“I feel so tired.” “I don’t have any close friends.” “No one will ever love me.” Just like a positive affirmation, we can (and often do) make negative affirmations in our day-to-day life without even realizing we re doing it. It often starts the first time out of frustration, and next thing we know, it s habit.
What seems like a lifetime ago, I had a very dear friend who pointed out how often I said “I m so tired.” Initially I denied it. Then I suddenly began to hear myself say that phrase many times a day. I kept wondering how I had not realized it before. He had pointed it out to me because he was tired of hearing me say the same thing over and over. More importantly, I was getting tired because I was saying it! When I made a conscious effort to stop saying how tired I was, I found I wasn t tired all the time.
Sometimes, we even pick such habits up from those we love. I have a friend who makes a noise every time he stands up or sits down. It s sort of an “I m exhausted, my body hurts all over, I wish I were dead” noise. This person is always tired and constantly has aches and pains. And his father made the same noise. Now I m not saying his father didn t have some ache or pain, but look what happened. It s sort of like sympathy pains are they real or not? I m sure my friend feels sore, but is it a mental or physical reality? What would happen if the negative were replaced with something more positive?
I m also not saying we need to go through life with Pollyanna eyes and deny our physical or emotional feelings by parroting catchy, positive phrases we don t believe. Positive affirmations do work, if we truly believe they can happen. Often it feels awkward to say them and may take a “leap of faith” but if we believe they can happen, they will. In order to truly believe they can happen, however, there is often some “up front” work to be done on our own or with a professional.
We first need to acknowledge what we are feeling or doing. We need open minds and the ability to see what we are doing to create the life we are leading. I have a belief that we create what is currently in our life. We may have been dealt a situation in our life which we would not have consciously chosen, but we can consciously choose how we react to it.
Next, we need to remember God gives us everything we need not necessarily what we want, but everything we need. What we create subconsciously may not be what we consciously want, but you can bet it is a setting that will give us an opportunity to learn the lessons we need to learn.
For example, did my dad cause himself to be confined to a wheelchair for most of my life? Whether he did or not, it was definitely up to him to determine how that situation would affect his life. I have two very vivid childhood memories of my dad. One was of him rolling into the kitchen where my mother was standing at the sink. He came up to her so the front of his knees bumped into the back of hers, causing her to abruptly sit down in his lap! Then they both laughed and kissed.
The second is of Dad and I waiting for Mom in a mall. Now we ve all seen small children stare at people who look “out of the ordinary.” Well, Dad sitting in a wheelchair fit the bill, and when he noticed this little boy staring at him, he invited him over. Shyly, the boy approached and Dad encouraged him to touch his chair, give it a push, and even stand on his footrests.
The point is that Dad may not have consciously asked for his situation, but he did understand that what he did with it was up to him. He could have been bitter about it and led a very unhappy life, but he chose to make lemonade from his lemons. Mom has shared that Dad did not reach this philosophy easily, but the point is he eventually “got it,” and all of our lives were richer for it.
Here is another example to prove that the first step to change is awareness. Back in my stressful, corporate days I used to unconsciously clench my teeth. It became such a habit it finalized my tendency toward TMJ a very painful jaw disorder. When I asked my dentist what I could do, he replied, “Stop it!” He then went on to tell me about biofeedback, mouth devices, and so on. I left there cynically chuckling to myself, “Yeah, just stop it. Like I can stop doing something I wasn t even aware I am doing!” And nothing changed.
Years later having gotten no better I took a course that, among other things, taught me to become more aware of what I was doing in my day-to-day living. Sure enough, I “caught” myself frequently clenching my teeth. I was then able to mentally say “stop” and the habit was slowly broken. The TMJ is no longer a problem.
OK, this is all fine and dandy when you can see what you re doing, but what about the times when you have no idea why things are the way they are and you really don t want to be where you are? Well, for me, the best part of believing we create what is in our life, is it also means we can change it if we don t like it. If we re responsible for it, then we can change it, too.
How, you say? I fall back to Earnie Larsen s saying, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” If you don t like where you are, do something different anything. If you can t see what you are doing to create the situation, change the situation and look again. You ll have a new viewpoint.
Just like my dad changed the young child’s view of disability into something less scary, we can each make a choice to change others’ views of us. As an example, if you feel no one will ever love you, try new activities you wouldn’t normally try. Put yourself out there to be found. Try to be more lovable volunteer your time at an animal shelter, a nursing home, a school. Getting your mind off yourself, trying new activities, and helping others will create all sorts of changes in who you are and make you more attractive to others, including those who visit animal shelters, family in nursing homes, and so on. It will help you feel good about yourself and people always enjoy being with happy, self-confident people.
The main point is to become aware or find ways to become aware and take responsibility for where we are in life. How can we ever find where we want to be if we don t know where we are now? It s amazing how once we open up our minds and our senses how far we can see and how much we can accomplish!
Ellen Houghton the desktop publisher of Access Press owns Presentation Images, a company that assists others in the selection, development, and implementation of the proper media needed to convey their messages. Additionally, she was the publisher/editor of “Stepping Up,” a discontinued monthly tabloid newspaper designed to help others explore their spirituality.