personal affirmation

Hi. I’m Matthias. I’m a middle-aged guy, and I have a daily affirmation. There. Glad that’s out. I also keep a journal, but I’ll save that for another post.

Personal or daily affirmations have become interesting to me. If you google for “affirmations”, you get a definition first and then it’s right into listicles such as 35 Affirmations That Will Change Your Life, The Only 100 Positive Affirmations You Will Ever Need, or Positive Affirmations: 101 Life-Changing Thoughts To Practice Daily.

Until not too long ago, all I could think of when I heard the phrase “personal affirmations” was Stuart Smalley.

To be honest, the idea that staring in a mirror and telling yourself something nice had any value always seemed a bit laughable. After all, it’s about actions, not intentions. What could one of those “life changing” phrases from one of the above lists really do? George Carlin tells us they’re only words. Sometimes words matter. It’s in the context that words become important.

So what’s the context? Before I get to that I’ll share my own current affirmation and how I came to it.

I enjoy trying new things and got the idea of a daily affirmation after reading The Miracle Morning. I originally started with a different affirmation each day. It was always something that reflected a specific goal for that day. Often these affirmations would be similar to some you can find in the lists mentioned earlier. Those lists offer some good ideas to get started, but I feel that the affirmation needs to speak to you. Crafting it yourself is the best way to have words that carry personal meaning. So, after a while, I realized that I kept coming back to similar and related things. There were recurring themes I could distill. That’s when I decided to craft one affirmation to rule them all.

I feel calm, confident, and happy.
I am healthy, strong, and full of energy.
I live with focus, purpose, and passion.
I choose my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

(Yes, I’m fan of the oxford comma)

I know what you’re probably thinking ;-). It’s what I would have thought not long ago. Too squishy and touchy-feely. It’s OK if you don’t like it, find it weird, or not meaningful. After all, it’s my affirmation and it only needs to mean something to me, and to me it encapsulates how I want things to go and be.

Here’s the thing. The affirmation is part of my context of starting the day right. It won’t guarantee anything but sets the course in the desired direction.

There is research suggesting that starting your day with negative news impacts you for a long time. Research on priming also supports the notion that our thoughts, even subconsciously, can impact our performance. So, let’s reverse the idea and consider an anti-affirmation in light of the research.

I’m stressed, anxious, and angry.
I’m sick, weak, and tired.
I am easily distracted and don’t know what I’m doing or why.
My thoughts, feelings, and actions are always a reaction to others.

Now that’s grim and a total downer. Most of us would likely agree that this would be a crappy message to start your day with. On a basic level, it’s easy to dread parts of the day and get into a negative mindset. It may not be as blatant as that anti-affirmation. It is simply crazy to set ourselves up with such a negative vibe, but I know I’ve done that on more than one occasion. You start the day and just hope it goes by faster than expected. Along with that come lots of thoughts like “today is going to last forever”, “ugh”, “F$*k this” or any other negative chatter you can think of.

Let’s assume you’re on board with not wishing to start the day with intentional negativity. In that case, it should no longer feel that far-fetched to try a positive message instead. To add to this, I would add that most of us have a way of starting our day “right”. Taking a shower, eating breakfast, 8 cups of coffee, and so on, are common morning rituals. Those actions appear focused on getting started physically. At least that’s how it feels until you’re missing that cup of coffee or the shower. Suddenly the whole day just feels like it’s going in the wrong direction. A lot of these morning routines can make us feel better. A personal affirmation is just one more way to get the brain to start with “Yay” rather than “Sigh”.

I’m not under the illusion that I can control my day completely. The affirmation serves as a way to stack the deck in my favor. Just a little. It’s difficult to judge the impact of something like this. Maybe my personal affirmation has made me less tense and happier (I feel like it has). Or maybe it will save my day the next time the water heater is out or I realize I’ve run out of deeply roasted Arabica beans. For now it seems to fit well into my day.

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