On a daily basis, people are naturally bombarded with negative thoughts as the stressors of life come into play. Maybe it’s a missed deadline at work or it’s a missed gym appointment. Maybe your child declared his definitive hatred for you again, contributing to the day’s notches on the negativity board.
But, is being a Debbie Downer really worth it? After all, she doesn’t have an uppity soundtrack and is instead all-too-infamously known for her loop of “whomp whomps.” With all of this negativity floating around, how can one possibly mimic that seemingly elusive Suzy Sunshine?
According to KC Levitan, LMHC, it’s easy -- if you start with small steps. Specifically, the first step is to create a list of self affirmations -- one that’s maybe typed or handwritten, or maybe even recorded. Levitan is a firm believer and an advocate in the power of self affirmations, a list created for the purposes of bettering oneself with positive notes of self encouragement in the forms of proactive goals.
“Self affirmations are basically any kind of positive statement in the present tense. Take a negative thought and make it into a positive, present thought so that it motivates you,” says Levitan, who recommends that patients diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression write them. “One of the benefits is that it tricks the brain into positive thinking. By reminding yourself of something over and over again, it replaces the negative thoughts with the positive. They help for mental clarity, and they increase positive awareness.”
A list, you might ask? Aren’t there enough written and mentally-compiled lists in your day? Well, the truthful answer is yes, but the point of self affirmations is to rewire one’s methodologies of thinking, and no ordinary grocery list will do that.
In order to compile a list of self affirmations, first evaluate the negative thoughts you think routinely throughout the day. Feel like a mediocre cubicle grunt? Jot that down. Do you obsess about your appearance and constantly compare yourself to others? Or, do you think that maybe you’re unworthy of healthy, positive relationships? Put those on the list, too.
After your list of negatives is compiled, then evaluate each point and consider how it can be fashioned into a positive, encouraging statement -- otherwise known as a self affirmation.
For instance, take your lament of being a cubicle grunt into play. There are other ways to rethink your perspective on your job to appreciate both it and yourself. Affirmation number one could say, “I am thankful for a job that supports me and my family, no matter how mundane its daily tasks. I am going to give 110 percent to my job, because it will only better my career. I can conquer day by day.”
Levitan additionally points out that self affirmations must be read daily in order to effectively recondition one’s brain into thinking positively. “I recommend putting the affirmations in your bathroom. Read them when you brush your teeth every morning,” she says, “because doing it the same time every day is key. It gets you into a routine. And, if you get into an overly anxious situation then you can read them again.”
Even if a simple list might not seem powerful, the fact that you’re working toward the general theme of positivity is. Similar to prayer, self affirmations are spiritual and mental rejuvenations that set the pace for the day, which are bound to reshape a personal disposition for the better.
So here’s to the positive elements in life, like the supportive, trustworthy Suzy Sunshines who want to violently shake those Debbie Downers and say, “Wake up! You have a lot to be grateful for and you’re the only one capable of recognizing that!”
It’s what helps to make this life bearable and -- gasp -- maybe even enjoyable, after all.