Friday, June 15, 2012

Affirmations: not just a bunch of touchy feely BS.

The Holstee Manifesto.  My guidelines for life.
When I was in the beginning of my struggles with my eating disorder, one of my biggest reasons for resisting help was because I hated what I perceived therapy to be.  I thought of it as a bunch of relaxation exercises with hippie dippie instructions like, "Feel the river filling up your body and washing away your worries."   I figured my eyeballs would get stuck staring at the ceiling because I'd be rolling them so much.  This is also why yoga has never resonated with me.  (I have since learned that there are many different styles of yoga so please, yoginis, don't freak out on me.)

I was very surprised when I went to therapy for the first time and found that there are a lot of therapists who understand my want and need to be able to explain my feelings in a logical way.  It doesn't have to be new age-y music and waving bundles of sage around.

But there is one thing that even the most practical of therapists continued to suggest to me and I continued to resist: affirmations.

I hated the idea of looking at myself in the mirror and a la Stuart Smalley saying cheesy stuff like, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me."  I still hate it.  But one day my roommate/life coach changed my whole perception of these nifty mind tricks.

She had heard a story on NPR that talked about affirmations that presented them simply as affirmative statements to yourself.  I guess that's kind of what Stuart Smalley does, but this seemed way less hokey.  For instance, one of hers was, "I will floss my teeth today."  Not, "I will floss my teeth in order to feel my healthy beautiful gums flourishing in all their grandeur," simply, "I'll floss."  Well, now that I could do!

I've been doing it for the past few weeks and color me shocked, it actually helps!  Starting the day off with a practical discussion with myself keeps my brain on the straight and narrow without making it a gag inducing "affirmation" that I'd never take seriously.  I've even found "affirmation art" like the Holstee manifesto at the top of this post that resonates with me in a positive way without laying it on too thick.  (You can purchase it here.)

So if, like me, you find affirmations too hokey, try to think of it as simply giving yourself a pep talk.  To use a sports metaphor that even your boyfriend could be into: you are the coach of your life.  A good coach never lets the players on the field without firing them up first, why be a player in your life without the same thing?

Ten, hut!

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