Week 30: Affirmations: Turning the beat around

You are what you believe in. You become that which you believe you can become

Bhagavat Gita

I have been thinking about how to be a happier person. Last week, I came up with strategies to lighten the mood, to bring back laughter, but this does not seem to be enough. So, now I am digging a little deeper. I came across this article about the things we must give up to be happy. The article provides a list of 25 things you need to give up to be happy. Some of things on the list are as follows.

  • Give up your delay to be happy
  • Give up your victimhood
  • Give up your meaninglessness
  • Give up your quest for happiness
  • Give up your guilt

It was suggested that one should start by making a list of 25 things one believed. This should then be followed by a list of 25 things one wished one believed were true.

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Affirmations are about rewiring the brain

At first, I could not make the connection or see the merit behind the exercise. The first list comprised mostly of things which are bigger than me. They were about life’s greater purpose, about my philosophies and my principles. But the latter list was about my insecurities, fears, and more minuscule (but not irrelevant) things.

They looked like they were insignificant but when I looked closely enough, I could see that these tiny little niggles were actually pulling me down. They were the things that needed to be fixed first. Having done this, the next thing to be done was to turn these into things I believed were true. This is where I could see the cogs and gears in my brain shifting and moving and turning.

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What is an affirmation?

Being a realist sucks. I feel more exposed now. I feel like although I have no control over so many things in my life, I need to have control. This constant tug-of-war is exhausting. So, I have taken my fears and insecurities and changed them into something positive, an affirmation. The purpose of affirmations is to not only challenge negative thoughts but to also turn them around into positive ones.

How do affirmations work?

But for them to work, one cannot get into the nitty gritty of ‘how’ they will work. You need to believe in your thoughts and then let them be. This is not a self-help project where you get extra credit for figuring out ‘how’ you can get your affirmations to work.

Second, it is important to constantly work on your affirmations. Constant course correction is the key to any kind of growth. Life is not static and your affirmations should not be either. You cannot possibly decide whether affirmations will work for you or not. But you have nothing to lose to spend some time with yourself and try to get rid of some of the mental/emotional gunk that might be clogging your life.

Finally, expect resistance. Our ego is there to safeguard us from getting hurt. While I am trying to rewire my brain, the other part of me is saying “Oh, what baloney!” I have decided that I will ignore everything that sends negative vibes, which includes some people in my life, for the simple reason that I cannot possibly remove them or remove myself from the situation. But freeing myself of all negativity is the aim.

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5 things to remember about Affirmations

If you want to see how affirmations can turn your life around, remember that they need to be

written daily. If you want to turn some of those negative thoughts into positive ones, you need to flood your neurons with positive light so that every corner is illuminated and no darkness remains.

written in the first person. So, all affirmations should start with ‘I am’, or ‘I believe I am’, or ‘I like/love’ etcetera.

positively assuring. Some people are born positive. Some of us need to train ourselves to be positive. I do not believe there is anything wrong in that. I believe our minds can be trained, just like our bodies.

emotionally charged. Instead of writing something like ‘I eat healthy’, one could word it differently, use more detail, and infuse it with emotion. It could then turn into something like ‘I eat food which nourishes my mind and body’.

in the present state. This is the toughest of the lot. I feel I cannot write something that my conscious mind does not believe in, yet. For example, I cannot possibly write “I do not need that (tempting) piece of chocolate” because it is something that I want my mind to project. But it is about rewiring the subconscious mind. So, instead, I can say “I eat things which will help me become heathier and stronger.” If I keep repeating this, my subconscious mind will start rewiring and sending me positive messages every time I go for that sugary treat.

Once you are armed with all these tools, you might want to peek into some apps which might help you with daily reminders of your affirmations. I am currently using a phone app called My Affirmations because it allows me to write my own. I feel that personalised affirmations work best because what does a generic affirmation like “I am naturally healthy” have any resonance in my life anyway?

So, go ahead and try it. Spend some time with yourself in the morning and write down an affirmation and you’ll notice that you are travelling lighter.

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