A Different Take on Affirmations (and yes, you’re good enough, smart enough and dog gone it people..
If we want to use affirmation as a tool to influence change in our lives, it helps to begin to have understanding of what affirmation is, how it influences us, and how we can use it towards the change we’d like to see in ourselves. In this first blog, I will discuss what I believe affirmations are, and some examples of how they impact us. In the next blog I will discuss how this understanding of affirmation can be used to begin (or continue!) to make change in one’s life.
We often think about affirmation as repeating a phrase such as “I am valuable” or “I love myself” to ourselves in the mirror. And that is affirmation. Also, there are many other ways we affirm ourselves. We can also verbally affirm ourselves in what would seem to be more overtly negative ways such as “I am a bad person”, or “I don’t deserve”. And we can affirm ourselves with music, film and other experiences.
At its core, affirmation is about confirming/feeling validated in what we already believe or feel about ourselves; or an attempt to begin to believe differently about ourselves. As in the examples above, it is easy to believe that “I am a bad person” is a belief/affirmation that just needs to be changed. But we’ve all adapted to be who we are for different reasons. We’ve come by these versions of who we are honestly. So as painful as “I am bad” can seem (and often is for the person) it was learned and may have served/is serving a purpose somewhere for the person in their lives.
For example lets say someone has had much disappointment, feelings of abandonment and rejection in their life. For that person saying “I am loved” or “I love myself” early in their healing process may feel difficult to reach, or arouse skepticism or bad feelings. For that person sometimes re-affirming the persona of the “bad one” may feel easier, more believable and more within reach- though it may come with a familiar self loathing. It also may feel more powerful. So being the baddest of the bad, a rebel or maybe associating with others who feel the same can feel really good. And it is affirmation.
Depending on the situation, we can also consume media (including social media) that either reinforces how we feel about ourselves, or is actively trying to contradict it towards forming different beliefs about ourselves. I believe affirmation also happens in our relationships. We often seek out and stay in relation with people (without our conscious knowledge often) who reinforce our beliefs about ourselves. Sometimes we are actively trying to break a historical pattern, like marrying a person who is not like mom, or not like dad. Or trying to not be like mom or dad.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how affirmation can show up in our lives. However it is a start into thinking about it. In the next blog I will discuss ideas about using affirmation towards making the changes we’d like in our lives.