If you’re as old as I am, you probably remember the old Al Franken character from Saturday Night Live – Stuart Smalley. The joke is he was a lifestyle and happiness coach who was kind of sad and lonely.
While it was a joke on SNL back in the day, positive affirmations are really just another side of visualizations. We say things to ourselves on a running basis throughout the day, and unfortunately, a lot of those things aren’t very nice!
“How could I be so stupid!” “Gah, I’m so lazy” “My butt looks so big!” “I really suck at this.”
We’re all guilty of it at one point or another.
Any kind of self-talk like that is actually an affirmation – and when you repeat negative affirmations to yourself, you start to believe them – whether they’re actually true or not. Think of the name – “affirmation” – each time you repeat it, you are affirming that something is true for you.
And you sure don’t want to believe a bunch of negative crap about yourself! You probably wouldn’t let anyone else say ugly things about you – why on God’s green earth would you say them about yourself?
If your negative self-talk has become a habit – and it really does for many of us – you can turn it around. Any habit can be changed!
One way to cut down on your negative self-talk is to stay mindful of your goals and focused on your tasks (We talked about that in Part 2 of this series). But it’s also important to learn to change your negative thoughts to positive ones.
These tips will help you wipe out the negative self-talk and create positive affirmations for yourself:
1. Make a list of the negative things you say to yourself. If your goal is to become a better blogger, you may find yourself thinking things like “My writing is crap… no one wants to read this.” That’s the kind of things you should be writing down. You can ignore neutral thoughts like “I need to remember to blog every day” – it’s just a mental note, not positive or negative.
2. Rewrite your list. But this time, turn each of those negative thoughts into a positive version. To use the example above, you might want to change that to “My writing is exciting, people look forward to each of my posts!” The key here is to remove any of the self-made obstacles that are blocking you from success.
3. Get in the habit of monitoring your self talk. Anytime you catch yourself repeating any negative self-talk, replace it with the positive version. Repeat it to yourself several times. You can even go stand in the mirror like Stuart Smalley and tell yourself!
In the beginning, you’ll need to be super aware in order to catch the negative stuff as quickly as possible. Before long, it’ll become a habit and you won’t have to think about it as much.
4. Create a NEW list. Make a list of other positive affirmations that you would like to believe. Think about the strength you want to develop, and figure out what kind of things you need to believe to make that skill real.
Read through your list of positive affirmations every day. When you can, read it outloud to yourself. If there are 2 or 3 that are really important, you may want to rewrite them every day. Record them on a loop if you’ve got a way to, and listen to them in the background while you work.
It’s true that when you hear something repeated often enough, you come to believe it – politicians and commercials use that fact ALL the time to make you believe what they want! Why not take that same power of positive affirmations and use it to turn your life around?
People have been using affirmations for a long time – because they work. Now get out there, take some action and make them work for you!