“I do hereby solemnly Affirm…”
When you say those words, we know that what’s coming next is something important. Something that you truly believe in. You are often making a commitment – to a job, to testimony, to a person, to an idea, to a duty. You are promising that you’re telling the truth, and that people can count on your word. If you break that promise, you’re letting people down – most especially yourself. You are saying, “I believe in this wholeheartedly – with my entire being.” It’s a signal to those listening that what comes next matters a great deal to you, and you’re willing to make sacrifices to carry it out.
It’s no coincidence, then, that “affirmation” comes from that root. An affirmation, in the Spiritual sense, is a signal to the Universe that we are ready to change, or we’re happy with what we have. When we make an affirmation, it’s telling the Universe – “This is what I believe about myself. This is where I see myself. This is who and what I am.” Some examples of affirmations:
“I am a Warrior. I am Strong, Confident, Courageous and Fierce. Nothing and no one stands in the way of me and what I want, and nothing and no one can hurt me.”
“I am in a happy and stable relationship.”
“I am a great Mom.”
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” (tip o’ the witch hat to Al Franken as Stewart Smalley for those who aren’t old enough – or are too old – to remember that one)
But so are these:
“I am worthless.”
“I am sick and tired.”
“I am struggling.”
“I am lonely.”
As you can see, many (I believe the strongest) affirmations begin with “I AM.” As you’ve seen in the Facebook memes, “what comes after the words “I am” shapes your destiny.” I truly believe that this is the truth, and I’ve seen it happen in my life countless times.
And a warning – what you say shapes your environment. I hate sarcasm. I know that some people think of it as a form of high art, and the ultimate in humor. I think it’s mean-spirited and rude (the literal meaning of the word is “to tear the flesh”). But it’s more than that. It’s self-sabotage. If what we say about ourselves becomes who we are, then we need to be very careful with what we say about ourselves, and about things that happen to us. If something goes wrong, and our reaction is: “Great. Just what I needed today…,” the Universe hears: “Great! Just what I needed today! More of THIS, please!” And acts accordingly: “Here you go, more dog poo on your business shoes/papercuts/jammed printer/other bad luck situation, just as you requested! You’re welcome!”
So here’s the really interesting part – you don’t have to believe that what you’re affirming is true for it to become true. It sounds weird, and is uncomfortable, and even disingenuous when you say it – how can I “affirm” something that I don’t believe? Your affirmation makes it so. That’s what makes sarcasm and other off the cuff negative remarks – “I’m so fat.” “I’ll never get that promotion.” “Everybody thinks I’m stupid.” – so powerful. What you put out there becomes your reality.
Let me give you an example from my Twin Flame Manifestation course:
Before I met my Twin Flame Ricardo, I used to introduce myself as a “single mother.” I used it as a descriptor along with my profession, my heritage, my nationality, my sex, my spirituality, etc. I saw it as a badge of honor, and I wanted people to know, frankly, of the special struggles I faced raising my four children alone. But the longer I was single, and the more I became aware of how affirmations shape one’s life, I realized that I needed to drop the “single” part, or that would always be who I was. I was placing just as much emphasis on being single as I was on being a mother. It was a part of my identity. This was true, of course, but I didn’t want it to be true anymore. I wanted to be a mother who had a loving, supportive partner. So I stopped calling myself a “single mother,” and just let people know that I was a mom. It changed the way others saw me, and the way I saw myself. All in a positive way. And set me on the course of becoming just what I wanted – a mom who had a great partner!
“I am” can also be changed to “You are,” or “S/He is” – affirmations work the same way to improve your interactions with others as well as your own. No, saying that someone is a great person isn’t magically going to make it so. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!? But it may change your perspective in a way that helps you to have a better relationship with him or her – through compassion and empathy. Another story – I had to deal with someone at my previous place of employment who had a reputation for being prickly, unapproachable, and “difficult.” Talking with her was an uphill struggle, especially if she had information that you needed or was “accidentally on purpose” misunderstanding what you told her, over and over again, until you were about to give up, then suddenly the light would go off. It was exhausting.
Then I had an opportunity to go to a conference of sorts in another state, in which she was also a participant. At the end of the first day of the conference, a group of us walked to dinner, and she joined us. I wasn’t happy about it, but saw no choice. As she sat across from me, I resigned myself to a meal fraught with pointless and inane small talk, just to get through the evening. But shortly after we sat down, I noticed her looking at her phone and smiling, but sort of a sad smile. I asked if everything were okay, and she had a tear in her eye. “I really miss my family,” she said. “My son doesn’t do well without me, and he’s texting me that he can’t wait til I get home. He wants to tell me about his day, and wishes I could be there in person to hear it.” I was so touched. We started to talk about our families – we each had four kids, and were each missing home. For the rest of the dinner I was able to notice that her “out of work” persona was very different from her “all business” work self. She was warm, funny and a bit unsure of herself – just as I can sometimes be. We had a lot in common. After that conference, we dealt directly with one another when a difficult problem arose, and things went really well. I began correcting co-workers who continued to describe her as “difficult” (“she IS”), by telling them that she was actually very warm and engaging in person. Because they respected my opinion, and had never met her in person, they began to think of her that way as well. Our relationship with the state whose program she worked for changed radically for the better. I reframed the “You Are,” and it made all the difference in the world.
How do you describe yourself? Not only to others, but to yourself as well? What do the “voices in your head” say to you? Is there a constant, negative litany running through your mind about how unworthy you are? Are you a worrier, or a complainer? Do you use sarcasm as a way to try to cope with uncomfortable or unwanted situations, or as a form of self-deprecating humor, or as a subtle (or not so) put-down of others? Stop it, and see what happens in your life. Make a list of positive things about you and who you are. Start them with “I am.” Practice them. Make them a part of how you talk about yourself. When someone asks you how you are, say: “Great!,” whether or not you believe it. It’s just a form of greeting, after all – they really don’t want to know how you are feeling about yourself, or about your troubles. You’ll brighten your day and theirs with your cheery disposition. Save the rest for those of whom you’re asking support or guidance… don’t go into the Emergency Department with a finger hanging by a thread and say, “I’m feeling great!,” or to your best friend and say “Everything’s FINE!” through gritted teeth and teary eyes. You get the idea. I’d love to hear from you as to whether this simple technique made as much of a difference in your life as it did in mine!