Can Positive Affirmations Lead to a Change in Mind Set?
I have spent my life always thinking that I was not enough. And when you are plagued with a thought like that you will always be able to find evidence to justify your reasoning. Even small acts from family, friends or even strangers reinforce this message and it becomes your identity. No worse still, it becomes the bully in your head. The bully that told me I couldn’t change and that things would never be different.
And it is exhausting when you think this way; analysing every conversation and questioning all of your behaviours. You chastise yourself for not saying or doing something differently. Or you have to forward plan scenarios in your head so that you can feel fully prepared for every possible outcome or response; always anticipating the worse. And this causes you to feel anxious. Your mind never rests.
And don’t get me wrong, I had heard people promote the benefits of positive affirmations and empowering phrases to change your mind set in the past. But do they really work? How can saying a few words that I don’t even believe about myself, change a lifetime of put downs and bad feelings?
Well, if you had asked me to stand in front of the mirror saying positive things about myself out loud I would have just seen it as a load of hippy rubbish. I would have felt ridiculous and failed to see how it was going to change a belief built into my core. And to be honest it's not something I've ever done. For me personally, I would feel too self conscious doing this. But I have learnt to change the voice in my head over time to be kinder.
Having had my words reflected back to me and challenged in therapy, I have started to see how ridiculous some of these thoughts really were. And a massive discredit to the people I loved for thinking they could feel that way about me. I haven’t perfected this yet so whenever I'm low, exhausted or a bad day turns into a bad week the old thoughts and beliefs start to creep back in but it is becoming a lot less frequently these days.
So when I look back and think about all the years that I have been telling myself I'm not enough, it stands to reason that this has become a part of my core belief and identity. So why wouldn't it be different if we change our words to be kinder to ourselves? To say nice things instead. Even if we don’t believe them at the start. Can changing our words change how we feel about ourselves?
So these days, I like to think that I make a difference instead. Because we all do make a difference to someone. Whether that's to our family or friends or even our pets. To someone we matter. And when we find a way to be kind to ourselves it makes change so much easier.
And just like the negative thoughts, over time, they can be replaced for a new positive image of ourselves. Because just like our old negative belief system, if we tell ourselves the good things then our minds will collect the evidence to support these beliefs until they too form part of our identity. I guess it's a case of we have to fake it till we make it.
And this is so powerful. Because over time, we no longer have to worry about the bully in our head; beating us up for getting it wrong or making a mistake. No longer exhausted because we are replaying old conversations or anxious about new ones. We can be at peace within ourselves.
So however you do it. Whether that's standing in front of the mirror saying positive things or challenging the bully in your mind with all of its spiteful remarks. Please find a way to change the voice in your head. Please find a way to be kind. You make a difference to someone just by being you!