I have ready various books in the mind/body/ spirit vein that suggest that you include in your daily routine a round of positive affirmations. One that I have heard several times goes along the lines of:
I am complete, I am perfect, I am healthy, I am strong, I am calm, I am loving, I am happy, I am successful.
At first I had a real problem with the idea of telling myself I was healthy when I so clearly wasn’t. Didn’t that risk me fooling myself into believing I could do things that I really shouldn’t be doing? Surely with this condition it’s not a good idea to try and brainwash yourself into ignoring reality? However I believe I’ve now reached a much better understanding of the idea behind affirmations and I happily include them in my morning mediation routine, just before focusing on gratitude.
For me, the understanding rests on the idea that our thoughts can influence the underlying intelligence that directs our bodily functions. Affirmations are not really just positive thinking; they are commands aimed at the physical biochemistry of our cells. They are ways of expressing our intention in a language that our biology can listen to. Our biochemical messengers live in the here and now; there is no past or future at a physiological level. The thought ‘I am really sick now but I am determined to get better’ is heard by our body as ‘really sick now’. Giving ourselves the message that we are determined to become healthier means nothing to the here and now of our biochemistry: it has no idea how or when to trigger any change if the command is not set in the present. Any intention we have needs to be communicated to our physiology in the present tense. Hence repeating an affirmation in the present is not about fooling our mind into thinking we are something that we are not, it’s really about communicating our intention to our underlying bodily intelligence. The more we can visualise, or imagine how it feels to be happy, healthy, strong etc. whilst making these affirmations, the clearer the message to our body will be, about what it is we expect from it. The body will then do what it can to respect that intention.
With this understanding I am happy to repeat an affirmation. I will be open to any changes that it might bring about, but I will not ignore the reality of the messages that my body gives me about what I am capable of in this moment.
What are your favourite affirmations? What seems to work for you?