Read any self-help book or listen to any motivational speech and you’ll hear a couple recurring themes. Believe in yourself. Know that anything and everything IS possible and within your grasp. Have specific goals. Dream big. The list goes on and on, but the one that’s sticking out to me today is the practice of affirmations.
If you’ve ever written down and tried to recite affirmations daily, then you know it can be a task. If you’re anything like me, it’s a task just to write them down at all. A few years back, however, I participated in an exercise that proved why everyone talks about this simple discipline and the change it actually can put into motion. The following were my thoughts shortly after that day…
Recently I heard someone say that the contrast between ‘what you are right now’ and ‘what you want to be’ is where motivation comes from. I scribbled it down in my journal and blazed right on to the next thing, not really grasping the depth of his point. Days later while thumbing through my notes, I found myself dissecting this thought and realized, although I had a vision for my preferred future and what that looks like externally, I had no idea what that made ME internally. I’m sure this is common as most people dream of what they want, not who they want to be. They dream of the the day they can buy that bigger house or walk away from their job, but they don’t stop to think “Who do I have to be to make these things happen?” So, on a clean sheet of paper, I wrote “I AM…” and underlined it several times before proceeding to list all the things I want to be. This list, which quickly filled the entire page, ranged from “early to bed, early to rise” to “security for my wife”. From “a clean eater” to “close to God”. As I read over it, it hit me that if I WANT to be these things, then I must not think I AM these things right now. The wheels started to turn. No wonder the speaker’s point didn’t impact me at first — not only did I not have a vision for who I want to be, I also had been ignoring who I really was. Identifying my short-comings and rewording them into strengths that ARE coming fired me up! I’ve set a goal to read this list as often as possible until I really AM the “I Am’s”. Already a couple days in, I’ve found myself making small changes. An action out of old habit will trigger a mental response of “Nope I am _____” followed by a verbatim bullet point from my list. Suddenly that old habit is called out and a new one begins to take its place. What you speak to yourself matters and whether or not you realize it, in some capacity, we’re all filling in the blank after “I am __”, most likely with something negative.
I vividly remember those times I would stop myself from doing or thinking something and correct it with an affirmation. I couldn’t believe they worked to be honest. And yet, somehow, like all things do (here comes something I need to address in a future affirmation ha) the discipline of reading them regularly faded away and eventually several of the old tapes took over again.
Today I’m starting a new list. What are the things YOU want to be? What character traits or disciplines would you like to have? Have you ever thought about it? What kind of person do you need to be in order to achieve that vision you have of your future? I challenge you to take the time to fill in the blank with me. You just might find some motivation.