The Power of Positivity

Hello everyone! As per usual, I’ll start by apologizing for not writing much recently. But here we are today, and I am excited to share this short and sweet post with you!

So I have been trying to be really diligent lately about using positive affirmations and positive thinking. I have never been really good about using such things in the past. Remember the character Stuart Smalley on SNL back in the 1990s (played by Al Franken in his pre-Senate days)? His catchphrase was to look in a mirror and say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” I tended to see positive affirmations through that sort of satirical lens, as a tool that couldn’t possibly have any sort of real-world benefit. I’ve generally been annoyed by self-help books and guides that promise that if you just believe, you can do anything you want! Consequently, I never really tried to nurture any sort of internal positive dialogue.

As I got older, I’ve found myself constantly being my own worst critic (shocking, I know…somehow never using positive affirmations eventually led to this!). As with many people (and especially many women), the constant voice in my head was one of doubt and criticism when it should have been one of confidence and support.

So, in that vein, I have been really trying for the last few months to switch that inner voice to a positive one, and you know what? I can really tell a difference. I feel more confident, more excited about the future, and more willing to push myself into new experiences.

I’ve been starting slow and steady in using these positive affirmations. I know it takes a really long time to quiet those internal voices that tell us we are never good enough/smart enough/talented enough, so it is definitely all part of a learning process to develop and sustain a positive outlook. Here’s a few things that I have been doing over the last few months:

  • Writing a positive affirmation on my mirror with a dry-erase marker. These affirmations can be really simple, even just something like “I am going to have a great day today,” or it can be more specific based your individual goals (“I am going to kick butt in this meeting today/try a new class that I am interested in/refrain from my criticizing my appearance today” and so on).
  • Looking in the mirror and saying out loud encouraging phrases. I gave a lecture Tuesday night at the Naugatuck library. I actually love public speaking (I know, I’m a weirdo who works with two of peoples’ biggest fears…needles and public speaking. Talk to me about spiders and/or clowns though, and you’ve got a different story on your hands). Before the talk, I decided to try using some positive thoughts to get me ready to go. I said things like, “This is going to be a great talk…you are capable of engaging and educating an audience…you are confidently able to answer any questions that come your way.” And, sure enough, the talk went really well- I felt good standing up there, and the audience was enthusiastic and just an all-around pleasure to work with.
  • Writing a list of intentions. I’ve done this a few times in the past year, and I’ve found it tremendously valuable. I wrote out some five and ten year intentions last year, wrote another list at New Years, and did it again recently. This lets me identify and clarify some of my bigger life and career goals and keeps them at the forefront of my mind. I say intentions rather than goals because intentions let you be a little more vague, so that you don’t feel tied to specific accomplishments. For instance, one of my intentions is: I will continue to develop my public speaking skills and work with a variety of locations and communities to help spread the word about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Rather than tying it to a specific goal (i.e. I will give a Ted Talk by 2018), it lets me be a little more flexible with what the universe sends my way.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, I have been trying to be forgiving of myself when I find myself falling back on old habits of negative self-talk. I think this is a really important one. As with so many lifestyle changes, it can be very easy to completely shut down and abandon progress when something throws you off track (think of times when one meal has thrown off your healthful eating for the week, or missing the gym for a few days completely derails your training schedule…we’ve all been there!). So it’s important that I don’t let negative or critical thoughts wreck the positive attitude I have been trying to cultivate. Rather than beating myself up for thinking something negative (“You’re an idiot for making a typo on that important email”), I try and reframe it (“You made a simple mistake, which everyone is allowed to do, and the rest of the content in that email was terrific. It’s ok to feel frustrated but let’s re-focus on the good.”).

Those are just a few things to start trying, and there are so many other ways out there to cultivate a positive outlook and engender self-love and respect. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts as well! Have you struggled with this in the past? What have you done to try and change your outlook? What positive affirmations do you love saying?

I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of your week. We are (hopefully) headed into spring very soon here, and I am using the power of positive thinking to focus on the end of the cold, dreary winter and the start of an exciting new season. Until next time, be well!