In decisive moments, do you find that the braver parts of yourself have given up and run away? Do you feel that where you are no longer brings you joy; that it no longer fulfils you, or aligns with who you are at this moment?
All you give yourself are reasons to “not” choose something different, to stay where you are, where at least it’s ‘cosy’. Why take risks – is it really that bad? You feel that you lack energy and you even become angry with yourself for daring to dream of something else. Perhaps you feel that, although you secretly know what you want, you don’t have the courage, the resources, to make the changes you want.
One of the reasons many of us stay ‘where we are’, even if the joy has been absent for some time, is that we are not aware of the story that our thoughts are reinforcing.
Maybe you hear the voice of Doubt – an old friend – and you think that it’s not good for you; that it doesn’t suit you anymore. Instead, you tell yourself that the situations and the people involved will miraculously change in favour of your happiness. You know that you would be better off without it, that your life would change for the better and you would have more energy, but something is holding you back. Why risk living with the guilt of having made a ‘wrong’ choice?
Or perhaps you hear the voice of Fear: you would like to make the change but you are afraid of what everyone will think, that you might fail, that it will be harder for you. Why risk the ‘shame’?
The problem with these negative thoughts is that they can become self-fulfilling prophecies. When our thoughts cause us to believe that we are not good enough, our personal and professional lives can be dragged down. Thankfully, change can happen if you are engaging your self awareness, observing and deliberately using positive thoughts. Then, the outcome can be far more helpful.
The first step is to notice the stories that you tell yourself without judgement. They are there to protect you without realising that they are actually holding you back.
The next step is to change the story. You are the one who holds the pen. Use this super power and rewrite! One way to do this is by using affirmations
MindTools described affirmations best by stating that they are “positive statements that can help you to overcome self-sabotaging and challenge negative thoughts.” These need to be repeated regularly and believed in, so positive change can occur. In the same way that you use repetitive exercises to improve physical health, affirmations can be used as repetitive exercises for your mind.
When to use affirmations
Evidence suggests that affirmations can help you perform better at work, for example. According to researchers, thinking for a few minutes about your best qualities before a stressful meeting can calm you down, increase your self confidence, and lead to a much better outcome (2015, Kang, S.K. et al).
Affirmations can also be used to keep yourself motivated when trying to achieve personal goals. Furthermore, they can also help to improve your self esteem, overcome bad habits, and encourage positive changes.
All the previous work within myself along with my life experiences, especially the ones that knocked me down, showed me that life is easy or difficult mostly because that’s how I frame it. Limited beliefs like ‘I am not good, beautiful, smart, prepared, or strong enough’ have influenced my path, the situations, and the people that reinforced these beliefs. Although I was skeptical, one day I just decided to tell myself a different story: “The way I am right now is enough. And so what if the choice I want to make seems the ‘craziest thing’. I choose me, out of love for that part that dares to dream that something else is possible for her – something easier and more joyful.” This new narrative has served me so much better.
If you also feel that you are not moving forward, that whatever you do does not satisfy you, and above all, that you are not enough. take a break. Breathe and notice what stories you repeat about yourself, about others, about relationships, about money, about life, death and whatever else you want. Are those stories helping you to grow or keeping you down, helpless and unmotivated?
Decide now that you want to live with a different belief system – one that supports you, and then follow it daily.
Putting affirmations into practice
Your affirmations should be credible. You have to believe them. So don’t use the opposite of how you feeling, because it may actually make you feel worst.
Start with something that feels true to you. Not all aspects of ourselves are negative, so find the positive ones. Think of three moments when you felt proud of yourself, when you felt you had done something well or when you made someone smile. Write down: I am great in…, I am very good at…, I love doing … Make these your daily affirmations and keep repeating these as often as you can, especially when you observe your negative thoughts taking over.
Examples of affirmations:
- I have come this far, and I am proud of myself.
- This is just one moment in my life, and it does not define who I am.
- This is one isolated moment, not my entire life.
- Things will get better.
- These are just thoughts. Only I determine the way I choose to feel.
Repeating daily positive affirmations will not magically make your anxiety or insecurity disappear. But regular practice and consistency may change the way you see yourself in the long term. Above all, it is a minimal effort practice with powerful benefits.
Change the story NOW. Write one where you are enough. See how that feels in your body. Play with the NEW. Stay curious.