Affirmations often get a bad press. If you still think they are a bit hippyish or ‘new-age’ you need to think again.
Many of us are streaming a negative background audio. Some of us have downloaded the content into our lives and don’t understand the impact it is having on our mental health. It’s a bit like continually hitting our self on the head with a small hammer and wondering why we have a bit of a headache.
Turns out when we talk to ourselves, we are actually listening!
But the truth is, we can only think one thought at a time. So it really is possible to drown out our negative internal dialogue with positive self statements and affirmations. We simply can’t hold two conflicting thoughts at once; something known in psychology as ‘cognitive dissonance’. When we choose positive self statements, and continue to repeat them to our self, they have to become our new reality.
It’s a simple yet powerful tool for taking take control of our own emotional wellbeing.
Neuroscientist, Sebastian Seung’s important work from the emerging world of epigenetics is all about mapping the human connectome; the brain’s shifting pathways of neurons and synapses. The mind, he says, is much like a river. Our neural architecture influences the direction of our thoughts just as a river bed influences the flow of the river. Our thoughts, paradoxically, also shape our mind, just as the direction of the river bed shifts over time, influenced by the movement of the water.
The Temporal Tap
You can reinforce your affirmations by temporal tapping; another way of gaining cognitive control over hard to shift, long-held unhelpful beliefs.
It’s simple to do. State your positive self statement either in your mind or out loud and tap along where your right ear meets the side of your head.
Tap from front to back, above and behind the ear. Repeat this five times to install what want to imprint. You can tap around either ear, but tapping around the right ear may actually be more effective than the left, as recent research indicates this is near the area of the brain associated with audio processing and also where insight occurs; the anterior superior temporal gyrus.
You might state something like ‘I am calm, focused and in control’ if anxiety or anger are your issues, or ‘I make good choices around food that keep me healthy and control my weight’ if you want to improve your health through diet, for instance.
The choice of affirmation is yours, but keep it positive and in the present tense. You are informing your mind that this is a fact in the here and now.
Permission to Shine
If you suspect you have some negative dialogue lurking unhelpfully in your subconscious mind, sabotaging your good intentions, find a positive affirmation that works for you; repeat it often, embed it with the temporal tap and start to drown out those self limiting beliefs. Until you spread your wings, you’ve no idea how high you could fly. You can find inspiration from Marianne Williamson who gives us permission to fly in something she wrote which is often attributed to Nelson Mandela:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of the universe*.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest
the glory of the universe* that is within us.
It is not just in some of us;
it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
* adapted from the original
Life’s too short to live someone else’s. So lose the negative self talk and get out there and make your mark on the world. Let yourself shine.
After all, you owe it to the rest of us!
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