I’m sure many of us have heard the “statistic” that a person needs five affirmations to combat every one negative said to them. Recently, I read an article that presented that idea in a new way. This article stated that our interactions with others should be 97 percent affirming and supportive. Not just to make others feel good, but to raise our own credibility. When the majority of our interactions are positive and affirming, when we demonstrate with words and actions how much we value those in our lives. When we regularly act in ways that help, encourage and inspire others, they experience our commitment to them and to the relationship. When we occasionally need to confront a true negative issue, our love and commitment are so tangible in their lives it combats the emotional battering that a rebuke often engenders. In other words, it gives us credibility.
I’m renewing my commitment to this principle. I’m making a conscious effort to tell those around me what I see in their lives that I admire. I’m changing my perspective so that I can verbalize their value. Instead of saying someone is stubborn, I recognize (and say!) that they are determined and persistent. Non-confrontational is kind and gentle, friendly and affirming. Outspoken and bossy is honest and dynamic.
It is amazing to see those I love respond so quickly to my attempts to verbalize their value. It’s also a little sad. Were they so starved for affirmation that, like a plant craving water in a drought, they immediately “green up”? As I watch their reactions, I realize I am feeling the same thing. I need to use this principle for myself. I’ve lived in an environment, some of my own making, of self-condemnation for long enough.
I have an internal voice that constantly tells me I’m not good enough, that I won’t succeed, have nothing of value to offer others. It’s been there all my life, lurking in the shadows of my mind, doling out discouragement and doubt and degradation. I’m not sure of the root, but I’m also not sure it matters. It’s possible my parents or childhood family members responded to me in ways that caused me to internalize those feelings of failure and unworth. People in my adult life did the same. But I’m not willing to lay blame. Determining and laying blame will do nothing good in my life. It only leads to a continued sense of unworthiness. It keeps my focus on how I’ve been damaged, not how to heal.
I need to refute that internal voice. I need to present truth to my mind-heart. I need to destroy the lie that I am incapable of succeeding in anything. Being a writer, words are my weapon of choice.
In the past, trying to force affirmations on myself seemed so fake. Self-help books and articles suggest writing or saying over and over “I’m a great writer” or “I deserve success” or any number of other suggestions. It’s never worked for me. I can say it, but I don’t believe it. There’s nothing of substance. This time I have an idea that might make a difference.
I have a list of personality traits. (I got in a Margie Lawson class.) It’s just a list of about 50-100 different traits, all positive. Things like adventurous, persistent, realistic, fun-loving, idealistic. I started using this list to help me find positive things to say to those around me. Now it’s time to use it on myself. I plan to go down through the list and each day write in my journal at least one way I have exhibited one personality trait. Instead of saying to myself, “You are kind and gentle,” I’ll say, “The way you spoke to your friend was kind and helped her make that decision” or “You try to are so conscientious that you want to make sure everyone’s needs are met.” I think this tying the trait to an action will more effectively combat that negative internal voice and the lies and discouragement it spews.
That’s my version of living and growing one day at a time, one step at a time. What’s yours?