"Look at what you bring to the world, not what you lack." - Miranda Kate

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Point of Affirmations: What They Are & How They Can Benefit You

Image of yellow and red Gerbera flowers in bloom with text: Be kind to yourself, nurture your inner flowerIn the self-help and personal development world, affirmations have become a buzzword of sorts: everyone uses them, relies on them, and considers them a necessary aid to personal growth.

But what are affirmations and what benefits do they bring?

Affirmations are positive words, sentences and phrases you repeat to yourself on a daily basis – in some way similar to chanting, prayer, or meditation.

They are used to counter negative thoughts we have about ourselves. In my posts: How to Stop Negative Internal Dialogue, and Negative Emotion Addiction: How to Recognise & Release it, I talk about how to combat negative thinking. Affirmations are a way to do this, and can replace negative thoughts.

Through the repetition of sentences, words or phrases, affirmations work to remind us of the good things about ourselves, and enable us to see our lives from a positive perspective. They are a way of training our minds to provide a healthier internal dialogue.

By reaffirming positive things in our lives on a daily basis we set our outlook and intention for the day. Reading or saying them every morning can bring renewed energy. It can have a positive effect on how we approach the people around us, and how we do our work.

Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life. – Tony Robbins.

For example, in my early 20s I struggled to see my value and always put other people before me, I felt that I was not important or significant in any way. It made me depressed and anxious. My therapist gave me the task of coming up with a sentence to repeat to myself to shift this belief. The sentence I came up with was: “It’s my life and I’m the most important person in it.” It took me a long time (years) to honestly believe it, but it made a difference every time I said it. I would particularly call on it in times of struggle. 

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a conviction, things begin to happen. – Muhammad Ali

I also struggle with being a parent, and some days feel that I fail. But when I find myself saying that to myself, I do two things: I remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start, and I repeat the sentence: “I am a good and valuable mother.” And with those words I receive a flood of positive emotions and memories reinforcing them, and providing me with fresh energy to start again.

Here are a few of the affirmations I use:

“You are important, your thoughts create, your actions matter, your presence changes everything.”

“My intention is to love, honour, and respect myself.”

“Expect nothing, appreciate everything.”

“Look at what you bring to the world, not at what you lack.”

Do you use any words, sentences or phrases to help you? Feel free to share them in the comments.  

Monday, 8 February 2016

Remembering The Why: How to Find the Point of It All When You Feel Lost

Image of sunlight shining through branches of a tree with text: See the light behind the trees, let it filter through and colour your life
Do you ever wonder ‘What is the point of it all?’

Do you ever feel lost and struggle to see your way ahead?

I have moments in my life where I lose interest in everything I am doing. I feel drained, exhausted and tired, waking up to the same day-to-day existence. Maybe things aren’t going my way, or I’m not achieving what I want - or they’re not happening fast enough. It all seems too much work to keep reaching for my dreams.

It’s in those moments we need to remember ‘the why’.

Some people might refer to this as having a purpose. In the self-help and personal development arena people talk about ‘living your purpose’, or ‘finding your purpose’, but I feel this relates to external factors: making something the objective, or intention, like children, a job or partner.

I believe ‘the why’ is more personal: it’s our own inner flame that burns inside and keeps us moving forward and focusing on what we want out of life, what we want to achieve emotionally, not just physically. 

“I am not interested in what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dream of meeting your heart’s longing” - Oriah

When we trip and fall it’s what gets us back up again. When we get lost along the path on a journey that seems to have diverted to somewhere else, it’s what brings us back on track, popping up like a signpost.

Sometimes we need to prioritise it, and fight for it to keep us moving towards it.

And no ‘why’ is the same; it is what resides deep within each individual’s heart and only they know.

If you are unsure what your why is, take time out to sit quietly and listen to yourself. Think about the things in your life, or anything that is troubling you, anything you are unsure about and don’t know if you want. When you think about these things, how do you feel? Which thoughts give you a positive feeling? Which dreams make your heart soar? What would you like to do? Which choices are you sure about?

Do this without taking into account any of the ‘ifs’, ‘shoulds’ or ‘buts’ in life – this isn’t about anyone else but YOU. 

The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling. - Fabienne Fredrickson

As a writer I often wonder about the point of my writing: Will anyone read it? Will they be interested? What will it achieve? And when I am on the brink of walking away from it entirely, I ask myself why I started writing in the first place. I go back to what inspired me to write in first place.

For me the answer is ‘because I want to express myself’: whether through a story, a blog post, or a tiny piece of fiction. I have an overwhelming need to express myself. My concern for how it will be received is overridden by my desire to do it.

The moment I find my ‘why’, I reconnect with it. My energy is restored; my motivation is rebooted. I can continue on, sure of what I am doing – and why.

We have to keep checking on the why, because if too much ‘what’s the point?’ builds up we can end up in an avalanche or landslide into the land of pointlessness, and get stuck in feelings of emptiness, depression and whole lot of darkness.

When we feel overwhelmed; when we don’t know which way is up; when we feel pulled in all directions, remembering the why brings us back to centre, putting the rug back under our feet.