I am working on a book called Spiritual Practice for New Thought and this blog post comes from my chapter on affirmations. Do you use affirmations often? I do.
I had a friend who was very healthy and happy until the day she died at age 89. She did not consider herself spiritual or religious but she always started her mornings with this statement, “Another day to be glad in.” Her grandmother taught her the words when she was a young girl.
It worked well for many years for my friend and I now use it every morning before I write my gratitude list. The affirmation has been around for at least 150 years. I’ve taught to so many others that it is safe to say it is growing in popularity.
I also started using the phrase, “Way will open”, many years ago. A friend told me it was an old Quaker saying and I loved the idea of not having to beg God, but just letting the path present itself.As a youngster, I believed it worked like magic. Every time I used it, I visualized something like the parting of the Red Sea.
Children’s books are full of affirmations. You can interpret the “Open Sesame” from Thousand and One Nights as an affirmation. We all know the story of the little train who affirmed, “I think I can, I think I can,” as it chugged up the hill. Some of the phrases I learned as a child were; “Something will turn up”. Or “Looks like a good day,” and “Keep on trucking” were affirmations. Whether, we know it or not, our lives are filled with affirmative statements that are direct messages to God.
Many people learned to use affirmations back in the day when a French psychologist, Dr. Emile Coue’ (1857-1926) taught his followers to say, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Dr. Coue’ was initially interested in hypnotism, then modified his approach and called it optimistic autosuggestion. He observed that our attitudes influence our health and other aspects of our lives so he set about teaching people how to change their beliefs. He was very popular in the 1920’s and 30’s.
In his day, Coue’ was a scientific pioneer. Today, there are many scientific studies that prove the body-mind connection and we know it is a fact that an optimistic attitude positively influences the outcome of our experiences. Coue’s work made a large impression on the public because it was true.
I know from personal experience that affirmations, combined with optimism and follow-up work, can be very effective. Before I became a minister, I built a successful writing career through hard work and using the spiritual practice of affirmations. In those days, I had 3×5 cards plastered all over my office. Each morning, as I began my work, I read the affirmations aloud. There was hardly an empty spot on a wall because there were so many cards pasted behind my typewriter. Soon, I was on the New York Times best seller list and I sold millions of copies of my teen romances that were translated into seven languages.
Affirmations are short and powerful reminders of your goals and your connection to that Helpful Force that we call God or Universal Mind or Higher Power. Affirmations are usually one sentence long. They are written in the present tense so that you know and accept that what you are seeking is already there. Keeping your affirmations definite and in the present moment is very important. It is better to say, I am at my perfect right weight than to say, I am losing weight now. The future is never here.
You need to work with your own mind until you find a statement you can actually believe. At one time I was having difficulty losing weight and I used, I am Light. because I couldn’t believe I am slim. I also used I make healthy food choices today. Eventually, by combining what I knew about affirmations, prayer, spiritual law and nutrition, I lost more than 130 pounds.
Here are a few common affirmations you may want to adopt for your daily spiritual practice. You can use them often without any disruption of your regular activities. You can say them silently or – if you are alone – say them out loud. In these days of electronic equipment, no one will notice when you talk to yourself as you are walking or driving. Be sure and watch the road.
Thank God I am rich.
My health is excellent.
I have a wonderful memory.
I am a straight A student.
I have a wonderful lover who cares for me.
I am healthy, wealthy and wise.
My perfect mind and my perfect body work together for my perfect good.
Life is fun.
I am beautiful.
I am handsome.
I am happy.
I love life and life loves me.
I receive money from many sources including surprises.
I am a money magnet. Money comes to me easily.
The beauty of affirmations is that they are so short you can use them anywhere. You can also stick them on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator door, or and anywhere you frequent.
One key to using affirmations effectively is to use them often.However, if you do not get the results you wish within a few weeks, you might want to consult your teacher or practitioner for more ideas about how to do the spiritual work. Long standing beliefs can be pesky. Please remember that your true aim is to change your thinking and beliefs about whatever goals you choose. Conscious, direct spiritual work is very powerful.
Make a list of positive sayings you heard as a child that were actually affirmations.
Make a list of affirmations you remember hearing in church, on TV, or from friends.
Make a list of three affirmations you choose to use this week.
My kid sister is 80 tomorrow and she hasn’t changed much. She’ll never catch up, but she’ll always keep trying! Ever since she arrived on Planet Earth, there’s been this contest about who’s the prettiest, who’s the smartest, and who’s the best. It continues!
Know what she did? She hit par on her golf course yesterday! She plays on a short course every Tuesday for at least the last fifteen years and her garage is full of trophies. She earned them when she was in her 60’s and 70’s. Wasn’t that enough for her? Did she really have to show me up by gaining more accolades at 80?
I guess she thinks I’ll throw in the towel now and admit she’s the best. We’ve been locked in this horrendous competition for at least 80 years and it may finally be coming to an end. I feel like giving up and saying, “You win”. Of course, I never will.
I could say, “I never thought it would come to this, and I’m sure you cheated, but I guess you win – at least for a little while.”
Maybe if I sound really, really depressed she’ll bake me a pie or something. Or maybe she’ll faint and then I’ll feel guilty. On second thought, I may have to admit she’s a better golfer but I don’t have to say, “You win.” I’ll just think of something else we can compete over. Maybe crosswords?
We weren’t born competitors, it was early childhood training that made us that way. When we were kids, people were absolutely determined to judge us.
We didn’t look anything alike but my grandmother made us identical dresses out of identical flour sacks. People asked if we were twins and when they heard no, they were compelled to pronounce who was the prettiest. Her dark hair and blue eyes usually won.She even had a few curls while my hair looked lank – like those Okies in the Dorthea Lang photos of the Dust Bowl.
I won the smart contest, probably because I was a grade ahead of her in school. Finally, in High School, some counselor called my sister aside and told her that her IQ was only three points lower than mine, but I don’t think either of us really believed it until much later when she ended up with so much more money.
Actually we were both pretty and we were both smart. Sometimes we were also in the same grade because Los Angeles Schools had half year promotions. She skipped into my class and then I skipped ahead. It happened more than once because I couldn’t stand having my little sister in my class. As a result of this skipping ahead race, we both graduated from high school two years earlier than normal. We were 16.
We fought and argued as small girls but we declared a truce when we started school because we really needed to be best friends. As children, we moved a lot and it was very handy to bring your best friend with you.
One reason we got along so well is that we divided things up. We shared a room until I got married at 18. After my child was born, I moved back home and we three shared a room again. Some things never change. Her side was neater..
My sister was very neat while I would have lived anywhere and never noticed. She ironed her clothes and shined her shoes before she went to school. I wore the same old gray glen plaid skirt and a wrinkled blouse.
As adults, she took the Martha role and I played Mary. Or was it the other way around? I’m not sure how that story goes but I do know she had one husband, three kids,and two homes throughout her adult life. She was basically a housewife and mother.
I, on the other hand, had two husbands and some extra men, only one kid, moved around a lot, taught school, wrote books and started a church.
We grew up in a time when women’s roles were changing drastically. We didn’t have much money or many advantages and in our own ways, we both did well. I was a “career woman” while she was a “wife and mother”. We really didn’t envy each other much because we knew we’d made choices that suited us.
Sometimes we didn’t understand each other’s choices and there were times when we quarreled about what the other one should do. Mostly, we just lived parallel lives and didn’t compete.
There were times when I thought my life was better because her life looked boring. I fear I was rather condescending when I was out in the big world and she was home taking care of three active sons and a coaching Little League obsessed husband.
As the years progressed, I was very grateful to her for her steadfast nature. She became the center of our family vortex during the years when my mother and father aged. I was gallivanting all over the place, learning to “express myself” while she was keeping the home fires burning, taking care of others.
With sobriety and maturity I came to see how unselfish and helpful my sister’s choices were. She is a true caretaker and a wonderful person. She says she’s not religious yet she lives her life immersed in Love.
These days, she is still my best friend. We talk on the phone every day and see each other when we can. We are both fortunate because our mother taught us not to dwell on the past, but to look to the present so our conversation is about daily events. I know quite a bit about her “golf ladies” and she knows quite a bit about my “church ladies.”
She’s proud of me for all I’ve accomplished and I honor her for all she’s accomplished as well. We still try not to compete but we can’t help comparing from time to time. She says I get around more than she does, even though I’m in a wheelchair and that gives me a brownie point, I suppose. I say she’s the best golfer I know in her age bracket and that gives her two brownie points at least.
I’m so grateful to have a best friend like my sister. Happy Birthday, Anne!
Do you have relationships you cherish?
What would you like to tell those people today?
Never give up! That is something I’ve preached for years and now I am proving it in my own recovery. I haven’t been able to take up my bed and walk like they did in those Bible stories, but I do see real progress.
When I landed in the hospital with nerve damage last September, no one offered me much hope. All anyone knew was that my back hurt and I was paralyzed from the waist down.
No one knew for sure what happened to me, or what would happen next. I endured many tests, and many hours of physical therapy until January, when they sent me home in a wheel chair.
I got the impression the medical staff thought my recovery was as good as it was going to get, although no one said it out loud. They only said, “You can never tell about nerves.”
I prayed daily and I did my exercises. I didn’t waste my time worrying about what had happened or why it happened. I started each day with a gratitude list and tried to stay as cheerful as I could, because I knew cheerful helps.
The improvement was very slow but steady. I remember how pleased I was when I learned to move from wheelchair to chair without anyone helping me. I remember how thrilled I was when I went to the bathroom all by myself!
Small victories are still happening after months of physical therapy in rehab, at home, and now in outpatient care. Since I started with my current physical therapist, I feel very hopeful.
I’d been under the care of at least five other physical therapists, plus consultation with neurologists, a spinal surgeon and other medical doctors before I found Jennifer. She found what weak muscles are keeping me from walking. Jennifer’s new exercises definitely helped.
I’m now using a walker around the house sometimes. This week, I began standing for a minute without any support or help on balance. I do this at least four times during exercise. It feels like a significant break through.
I don’t have any guarantees but every little win makes walking seem more possible. I pay attention to the wins because I want to keep motivated. I do what the doctor says. My personal recovery plan includes compliance.
I developed this recovery plan when I was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago. That was a scary surprise and my recovery covered almost a year of surgery, chemo, and radiation. I’m now officially a survivor.
During my cancer recovery, I chose to follow a media diet of happy, happy, happy, all the time. I based my choices on Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of An Illness and I’m on a permanent diet of happy movies and books.
As a Religious Science minister, I am certain that it is possible to recover from any illness. The course of any illness will go the way of the individual’s prevailing belief system. Therefore, the most important thing is to keep my belief system as light and bright as possible.
I know that it is God that heals and God is present everywhere. While I pay attention to my present body condition, I do not worry about the past or future. God lives in the NOW and I do my best to live there as well.
My recovery plan depends on my spiritual practice and Western medicine. I realize Western medicine is not the only way to recover, and it may not be the best plan for everyone, but it suits me.
I believe the best path for anyone to follow is the path he or she believes in most deeply. I also believe you should be persistent and compliant after you decide what path you will choose to follow. Jumping around and trying to use Chinese teas, Indian yoga, magic numbers, Irish whiskey and Western chiropractors is probably not the best way to cure a sore toe or anything else.
Years ago, I discovered that I am a believer in Western medicine. I believe if you are going to use doctors, then you should do what the doctor tells you. My responsibility is to select the best doctors I can and do what I’m told.
Even though I am the patient and need to be compliant, I never forget that the doctor is there to serve me and I have a right to ask questions and get answers. It is never a good sign when I feel ignored or patronized. I have, on occasion, changed doctors or therapists because I didn’t think we were a good team.
My job is to ask questions when I don’t understand and to cooperate. My doctor’s job is to explain and not to patronize me. If it isn’t working, I have a right to change doctors or ask for a second opinion.
I sometimes hear people complain about their doctor. As we talk, I often find these people don’t question their doctors and don’t follow directions. What good is getting the prescription for an ailment and not taking it? Instead of thinking of themselves as part of the team, they seem to see themselves as victims. Assertiveness training is needed everywhere, even in the doctor’s office.
Speaking of assertiveness training – I do believe in following the doctor’s orders unless they say there is no hope. Never let anyone tell you that your prognosis is hopeless! You are a spiritual being and you are more than your disease – whether it is measles or bubonic plague.
I think of myself as a healthy person and from the beginning of this adventure with my back paralysis, I have tried to be positive about my recovery. I am so grateful for all the help from Religious Science practitioners. I consulted them over and over again. Right now, I have a daily prayer partner whose help I treasure.
I pay attention to my recovery efforts and I follow my plan but I do not make it the main issue in my life anymore than I can help. I have kept as busy with church work as I can because it is good for me to think about something besides myself.
I have continued counseling others, continued teaching and just gave a workshop with my friend Sharon Bagley. I write my blog about other things than my health. I’m helping others with their books. I’m writing the final draft of Spiritual Practice, a book I started last year.
So that is my program for recovery. I am very determined and never think of giving up. I comply with the medical advice. I pray daily for recovery and ask others to pray for me as well. I take good care of my diet and exercise. I keep cheerful and help others when I can. Most of all – I remember that I am more than a diagnosis – I am alive and well and living my life NOW.
Do I agree with this program?
How do I behave if I have a health issue?
What is my relationship to my doctors like?