What’s the big deal about positive affirmations, really? Actually, it is a really BIG deal. The way you think, about yourself, and about your life, determines what kind of experiences you will have. We manifest our fate every step of the way, through our dreams, imaginings, projections, and expectations. But most especially it’s how and what we think about ourselves that determines how happy we will be.
Researchers have conclusively shown that when we think positive thoughts, we enjoy enormous short-term and long-term benefits. So, if faced with a choice of positive or negative thoughts, why not go with positive and see what happens? It’s like seeing your glass half full instead of half empty. The glass has the same amount of water in it either way. So why not see the glass as half full?
Positive affirmations are thoughts and sayings you can repeat to yourself out loud or silently in your head. Positive affirmations are designed to help uplift your mind, body and soul. Instead of putting yourself down every time you make a mistake, imagine telling yourself nice things, like: “It’s okay to make mistakes,” or, “Who I am is good and I’m good enough.”
Unfortunately, as loss survivors, we can end up flooded with negative messages. Usually these are messages we send ourselves, about not being good enough, not being a good parent, spouse, child, etc. Then if we do get criticism from family or relatives, we internalize it with more negative statements about ourselves. The damage this negativity does to our self-esteem and self-worth is incalculable. But with practice, we can control our thoughts and improve our sense of well-being.
I was mired in negativity after the suicide death of my loved one. I couldn’t even drop a fork on the floor at dinnertime without calling myself “stupid.” I was miserable and knew I needed a radical shift in my life. That was when I was introduced to the power of positive affirmations.
How to get started: Start listening to the “committee” in your head. Are you constantly criticizing yourself, calling yourself names, putting yourself down? If that is the case, you don’t need anyone to degrade or humiliate you — you are already doing it to yourself!
The key with positive affirmations is repetition. The more your subconscious mind hears positive words, the more these thoughts will manifest in your life. It is always exciting to start noticing for the first time when your positive thoughts start to outweigh your negative thoughts. Although this may take a while, and require persistence and commitment, the pay-off is well worth all the work!
Try this: for the first several weeks that you try out affirmations, call yourself “Sweetie.” When you drop something on the floor, say, “It’s okay, Sweetie.” When you forget something and have to come all the way back home, say to yourself, “It’s okay, Sweetie.” If you do this long enough, the positive in your subconscious will start to outweigh the negative and you will start to feel better about yourself and the world around you.
You will start to notice your relationships getting better — much better! Healthier and more encouraging people will literally start to show up, and more importantly, you will start to notice them! When we were once mired in negatitivy we didn’t even notice when someone nice was around because we were too busy being cynical and pessimistic about our chances of finding someone nice. But the affirmation: “I deserve unconditional love at all times,” will get you to a new and wonderful relationship very quickly.
Besides love relationships, positive affirmations create improvement in dealing with family members, bosses and co-workers on the job, friendships, dealings with neighbors, as well as any dreams you have for yourself in the future. Positive affirmations help us get through disappointment, rejection, and deep grief and keep us looking forward to living life in the moment.
Please remember, after a loss the last thing we need to do is beat up on ourselves. After my own suicide loss, this was especially true. This is a healing time for you, a time to nourish yourself as you recover from your grief. This is a time to treat yourself well!
Catherine Greenleaf is a suicide loss survivor, and author of the highly acclaimed book, Healing The Hurt Spirit: Daily Affirmations For People Who Have Lost a Loved One to Suicide. She is a spiritual counselor and a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She travels nationwide to speak to suicide loss survivors about how to persevere after suicide loss. You can read more of her work on her blog, or follow her on twitter.