No one can ever take away the things that make me and my life brilliant... - Suzi Barrett in Affirmators! Tarot Deck
This affirmation has been resonating with me for a few weeks. It came along with the reading for the Seven of Wands: "Uh-oh. Something (or someone) is thwarting your progress. Don't let it get to you - you're in the right place and you don't need to yield your personal power to anyone (or anything). Stand your ground, prove your worth, and swat away any temptations to back down or compromise."
Not only are our brains wired with a bias towards negativity, our internalized beliefs about ourselves are established early on in our childhoods. These internalized beliefs become reinforced in our minds as we get older and enter adulthood. It does not take trauma or adversity for negative internalized beliefs to take hold, though trauma and adversity can certainly add layers of difficulty to undoing them. Neuroplasticity, or our brain's ability to change through neural networks growing and reorganizing, means that it is never to late to believe something new about ourselves. It takes time, but it is possible.
This week, the homework I gave myself in my therapy session was to read my list of affirmations to myself every day between now and the next session in a couple weeks. I had already set the list as the screen background on my phone, so I am hopefully setting myself up for a bit of success (more often than not, I don't do my homework assignments - and that's OK!)
I don't always believe the affirmations that I tell myself. What I find nice about affirmations is that I don't have to believe them for them to rewire my brain.
The affirmations that resonate for me will not resonate for everyone. I have stumbled upon mine over the last several years, sometimes through working with therapists who introduce me to one that sticks, and other times as I am reading a book. Some of the affirmations will be more prominent for me for a period of time (I had The Four Agreements plastered on a wall in every room and my steering wheel for about a year) and some are longer lasting (one that came from a meditation I did a few years ago). There is no right or wrong way to discover what affirmations will spark for you - or if there will be a spark at all. The more you repeat affirmations to yourself, the more you give your brain (and you!) the opportunity to be its amazing self.
I find that affirmations become easier to repeat when I put them in places that I will see. Phone background, fridge, mirror, by my toothbrush. Somewhere that I'll read it as I glance at it. There are also apps (like ThinkUp) that can help provide the affirmations auditorily - including recorded in your own voice.
A process that therapy has helped me do is to identify the negative beliefs I have about myself and decide what life-giving belief I want to hold instead. Again, it's not important for me, personally, that I believe it, but helps to know what I would like to believe instead.
Your shift does not have to be from negative-to-positive. Negative-to-neutral is also valuable and healthy.
"What good is it to use affirmations like “I’m an amazing mom” or “I deserve to take care of myself” if we don’t believe it?
So here’s what I do instead... I call it a neutral swap.
Instead of shifting from a super negative mindset to a super positive one, I swap to something neutral and factual.
Instead of “I’m a terrible mom” turning into “I am an amazing mom”, try “I am a mom”.
Instead of “I’m so lazy for needing breaks” turning into “I deserve to take care of myself”, try “I am human, and humans need breaks”.
Neutral swaps help us stop the negative thoughts we have by replacing with something that’s based in fact so we can actually believe it.
You can figure out a positive mindset later.
For now, let’s practice taking the insults out of our thoughts and making them neutral. Once this becomes habit you’ll feel so much better."
No one can ever take away the things that make you and your life brilliant.
An incomplete list of Melissa's affirmations:
I deeply and completely love and accept myself (credit to learning this from EFT tapping practice)
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Be impeccable with your word
Don't take anything personally
Don't make assumptions
Always do your best
"Do you already know that your existence - who and how you are - is in and of itself a contribution to the people and place around you? Not after or because you do some particular thing, but simply the miracle of your life." adrienne maree brown
And a bonus song that coincidentally manifested shortly after I identified my "I am" affirmation during a meditation: