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Don’t Make a Resolution, Create an Affirmation

How many New Year’s have you tried to enact some form of change for yourself?  New Year’s resolutions present themselves every January, and once in a while, although very seldom, a resolution will work.  One of the problems with a resolution is the wording.  Most of them are phrased using the future tense.  “This year I will begin exercising.”  “As of January 2nd, I will begin my diet.”  “I will stop smoking.”  It’s like making a wish and then waiting to see if it comes true or not.

A more effective way to initiate change in your life is to create an affirmation.

What exactly is an affirmation?  What does it look like?  How should it sound?  What phrases work, which ones don’t?  An affirmation is a statement that affirms, make firm, that which you believe.  It is a statement about that which you perceive to be true.  You can have positive or negative affirmations.  Most of us have lived our lives telling ourselves about our faults.  We also rarely hesitate to tell others about our faults.  When was the last time you graciously accepted a compliment?  When was the last time you complimented yourself?  When I began writing out my affirmations, I discovered the power of controlling my thoughts and taking charge of my life.  For me the joy was also about creating the affirmations; testing the words that resonated and deciding what was so important to me that I would focus on it day after day. 

Not sure it will work for you?  Think about this.  All those negative statements you’ve been telling yourself for as long as you can remember how have they been working?  They’ve probably worked quite well but not to your benefit.  Changing them to positive statements will work too and think how much better you’ll feel. What does your self-talk sound like?  Sometimes, you’re having the conversation when you’re alone.  Sometimes, you’re having the conversation when you’re with others and you’re not feeling comfortable, maybe you’re feeling very uncomfortable.  What are the phrases you’ve adopted over the years?  “Boy, am I stupid.” or “I never get it right!” How about, “I can’t do that. It frightens me.”  This is about changing the things you tell yourself.  You can do it.  Why would you want to start saying positive things to yourself?  Because, it’s a powerful, free tool that makes a positive difference in the quality of your life.  Begin by noticing when your self-talk weakens you, makes you feel powerless, or useless.  Pay attention! 

Join me as we go on this journey.  We’ll take it one step at a time. 
When creating an affirmation avoid the word “not.”  Why?  It won’t work to your benefit; it may even work to your detriment. I heard a story many years ago about a mother teaching her daughter to drive.  There was a huge bolder in the road ahead.  The mother kept reminding her daughter about it.  “Watch out for the bolder.”  “Don’t’ hit the bolder.” “Make sure you miss the bolder.”  What do you think happened?  They were both so focused on missing the rock in the road, they drove right into it.   It’s the same with negatives in your affirmation.  You won’t hear the “not” and you’ll move right into the place you’re trying to avoid. What are some things in your life you’d like to let go of, or release?  Make a list, choose one or two that seem the most relevant. 
There are some phrases you can use instead of enlisting the negative.  For example:  “I release” or “I let go of.”  Two of my affirmations using those phrases are:  “I let go of fear and anxiety.” and “I release myself from my childhood limitations.”  I’m sure you can come up with some others.  Give it a try.  It’s simply more effective than saying: “I will not let fear and anxiety influence my life.”  Can you hear the difference?  Can you feel the difference? 

 When creating an affirmation, it is helpful to use words that resonate deeply with you.  Try out some of the words; see if they cause a visceral reaction.  The following list is one I have used for several yoga retreats I’ve facilitated and many of which you will find in my daily affirmations.  Some are adjectives and some are nouns.  It doesn’t matter, use them anyway that works for you.

Accomplished, Faithful, Hopeful, Humble, Empowering, Grateful, Connected, Integrated, Joyful, Direct, Discerning, Loving, Capable, Sense of Humor, Enlightened, Compassionate, Influential, Dedicated, Delightful, Dependable, Devoted, Learner, Energized, Imaginative, Attentive, Daring, Facilitator, Family Oriented, Accepting, Free, Fun, Inventive, Laughs Easily, Aware, Sensitive, Tender, Honest, Articulate, Artistic, Courageous, Inquisitive, Instructor, Passionate, Sexy, Sensual, Present, Grace-Filled, Careful, Beautiful, Healthy, Patient, Unique, Preserving, Vulnerable, Radiant, Refined, Adventurer, Satisfied, Educated, Calm, Content, Peaceful, Open-Minded, Transformative, Serene, Truthful, Spontaneous, Thoughtful, Creative, Experienced, Leader, Teacher, Guide, Encouraging, Seeker, Trustworthy, Happy, Abundant, Planner, Visionary, Gentle, Soft, Triumphant, Understanding, Uplifting, Supportive, Prosperous, Contributor, Discoverer, Nurturing, Graceful, Glowing, Hearty, Hardy, Hottie, Playful, Fulfilled, Forgiving, Non-Judgemental, Non-Grasping, Dreamer, Questioning, Optimistic.
I sometimes write out the affirmation without too much thought and then take time to fine tune it. Begin by taking a few minutes and re-reading the words.  You are looking for words that stir an emotion in you.  Don’t over analyze it.  Circle the ones that jump out at you.  Pick three or four from the circled ones and write them down.  Let the sentence be a statement of how you want to perceive your life.  Write it in the present tense.  See how it sounds; see if it truly resonates with you. 
One example of an affirmation I use in my daily practice is:  When I stay focused on the present, I am calmer and more peaceful.  I created this one because I believe what is truly important is today.  Worry magnifies my difficulties and diminishes my ability to live fully in the present moment. Anxieties almost always arise because I fail to put all my effort into the here and now.  I am calmer and more peaceful when I focus more on the gifts of each day, instead of worrying about tomorrow or reliving something unpleasant from the past.

The quality of my life is all about how I perceive every event and person, including myself.  If I can change myself for the better, won’t that help others? If you did the same thing, how would that help you, the world, or at least your world? It’s an amazing process.  Do it!  Take full advantage of it.  Write them down, write them every day, post them on your bathroom mirror, by your doorway, on your computer and wait! Instead of another set of New Year’s resolutions you didn’t keep, you’ll have created a set of affirmations that will change your life in ways you never before dreamed possible.