Jen Sincero is a BIG long-time believer in the power of regular affirmations. Not me. Affirmations did zip for me. Well, until recently. Louise Hay telling me to say “Wellness is the natural state of my body; I am in perfect health” felt like pure hokum; my brain broke out into guffaws of laughter on hearing it.
See, my brain is very big on spotting what is & what isn’t – one of the qualities that’s gotten me into troubled waters with my family. It experiences an affirmation expressed as if it already exists as a LIE.
That said, there is a form of affirmation that does work for me. Take the same statement & add “I’m willing to…” at the beginning. “I’m willing for wellness to be the natural state of my body” is a statement my brain can run with.
However you process affirmations – aka expressed belief in a better state of being – they can open the way to a mega shift in life. First, because they are specific. You are identifying what matters & focusing on it, which is always the most powerful thing we can do – and the most disempowering when we don’t.
What turned me around from scoffing to doing was something I never saw coming – five years teaching science & health to high school students. At-risk students, kids I knew could benefit from understanding their brain function. It was their scoffing at an article on affirmations that woke me up to the tweak that made all the different. By starting with “I am willing...” the students could relate, if only on some distant level. And so could I.
Mom started using affirmations in her 80s & felt they made a difference in her life. Mind you, the ones she used were very different from those set out for elders in Positive Daily Affirmations‘s recommendations for Senior Citizens & middle age, which strike me a gosh awful. Maybe it’s because of being such a badass herself, but Mom never put her affirmations in any age context, unlike ones in the article that affirm I deserve to feel young, I deserve to act young even when others don’t, I think I’m young so I am, My young friends help keep me younger.
I can feel Mom cringing at the thought of My young friends help keep me younger & imagine her asking, “How old is the person who wrote this?” Mom taught me that it was her older friends who made her feel younger, that young people could make her feel O L D. Mom’s affirmations focused on fitness, health, happiness, contribution, growth, relationships, not on age. She would be the first to say that if youth is wasted on the young, the joys of aging are too often wasted on those aging ever upward.
Regular affirmations can help 55+ folks open their minds hearts spirits to the wonders rather than woes of growing OLD, that there are countless benefits to brushing past fifty & especially inching your way upward.
Here’s what both Mom & I learned, that Jen expresses so well – – “Come up with some that don’t make you gag, but that strike a nerve with you. The more emotion you feel around what you’re saying, the more power it will have to bring about positive change. And yes, at the beginning it may feel like you’re lying to yourself, but the truth is, you’re living the lie, so the affirmations can get you back to the truth. This can’t be just rattling off nonsense – you have to feel it and want it and get worked up by it in order for it to work.”
Using affirmations is the height of badasserie – it’s saying THIS is what is in me, ready to roar. It doesn’t take using special pens or a snazzy journal, although Super Sticky Post-It Notes are a excellent investment (mirrors, car dashboard, kitchen cabinets…). My 90+ year old mother did it sitting in her big chair in the living room. Without any training, any special certification, special tools or extensive time, each one of us has the ability to turn ourselves around or to send us soaring or continue nailing outrageously awesome goals. Because regular use of simple affirmations helps all of us rewire our brain, train it to work for us instead of against us.
BUT be careful what you are saying to yourself. The folks at Positive Daily Affirmations might think a good affirmation underscores the vainglory of youth over the power of age, but that feels so wrong. Instead, check out Carole Chiego’s excellent piece, How to Use Positive Affirmations for Your Elderly Loved One.
Carole, who works with Extended Family Care in Allentown, PA, knocks it out of the park with her short, savvy advice on how affirmations can make a difference to oldsters elders ancients. How I wish Carole & Mom could have shared a cuppa & a gab! Mom would have totally related to Carole’s core guidelines – – start by looking at longed for goals, use positive statements phrased as if they are already so, check for realism, post them everywhere, let others know.
Tears sprang up as I read that last one – there are tears in my eyes as I write this – – YES! There is great power in other people, from friends & family to care partners & staff, just being aware of them, even asking about them (no being pushy!).
As Jen points out, affirmations can help us move past lives out of sync with our truth & closer to ones that revel in it. Affirmations aren’t self-indulging lies, airy fairy wishes or reality-dodging day dreams. They come more from our soul than conscious mind, help us become more fully aware of truth, more fully at rest with the reality of who we truly are.
I started as a total skeptic about the power of affirmations, but along the way have discovered that they embody “Sed parva forti” – small but mighty, at any age, in any circumstance.
* Defining BADASS – a person who is independent & competent enough to do what they want, regardless of whether it’s popular, or even allowed. A badass is someone who rolls up her sleeves, knows what she wants to do, is open to the risks & flat-out goes for it. Who can laugh at themselves while taking their pursuit seriously, love themselves & others. Who are wise enough to “rejoice in the cosmic ridiculousness” of it all.