Wellness Wednesday

Thoughts On Developing an Affirmation

It’s no secret that I’m an introvert. In fact, I come from a family of introverts, and have been lucky enough to both marry and birth other introverts. So, if after a long day, I come home and declare, “I’m going into my bubble now, they get it, and give me time and space to be alone to do whatever I need to do to refill my cup.

They also understood my decision to not watch the evening news and to only, selectively, read the national news in print. It was part of my protective bubble. (Some images cannot be unseen, and I chose to protect myself from the visual media’s onslaught of daily blood and gore.)

I don’t remember what brought me out of my bubble, but I started reading and watching the news more intensely. I found that the more I saw what was happening in the world, the more hopeless, angry, and depressed I felt. I sat with those feelings for several weeks, made some art, did a lot of reading, and at some point, came across this:

 

Rolling Away the Stone
by Sarah York

In the tomb of the soul, we carry secret yearnings, pains frustrations, loneliness, fears, regrets, worries

In the tomb of the soul, we take refuge from the world and its heaviness.

In the tomb of the soul, we wrap ourselves in the security of darkness.

Sometimes this is a comfort. Sometimes it is an escape.

Sometimes it prepares us for experience. Sometimes it insulates us from life.

Sometimes this tomb-life gives us time to feel the pain of the world and reach out to heal others. Sometimes it numbs us and locks us up with our own concerns.

In this season where light and dark balance the day, we seek balance ourselves.

Grateful for the darkness that has nourished us, we push away the stone and invite the light to awaken us to the possibilities within us and among us – possibilities for new life in ourselves and in our world.

As I counsel an increasing number of individuals who describe themselves as “introverts,” “sensitive,” or “empaths,” I ask, what is the line between taking space versus retreating or avoiding life? Between self-care and numbing? Recognizing this line can help us learn how to tolerate negative feelings by not engaging in numbing behaviors or doing things to avoid feeling those uncomfortable feelings.

Completely withdrawing from the news was definitely a form of avoidance on my part. It’s tempting to take the avoiding path because then we don’t have to feel all those feelings that leave our hearts heavy and our stomachs twisted in knots. However, it’s a false sense of security and a false joy.

It helped me to figure out the distorted thought that was leading to my feelings of hopelessness. In my scenario, it was a growing fear that the world wasn’t safe. To combat this perception, I thought of a phrase that would counteract my fear. I started working with the affirmation, “A safe, kind, and compassionate world is possible because what I choose to do with my life matters.” Things didn’t change overnight, but the more I worked with this affirmation–saying it, writing it, making gratitude lists around it–the more I came to fully feel and live its truth.

To come up with your own affirmation, first recognize when you are feeling a negative emotion and sit with that discomfort. Where do you feel the discomfort in your body? How long have you been carrying this feeling around? What memories, thoughts, or fears do you have that are contributing to this feeling? Write a phrase that counteracts  or is the opposite of that distorted thought.

Keep your affirmation somewhere you will see and read it throughout the day. Say it out loud. Talk about it. Write it on your arm. Journal about it. Paint it. Surround yourself with people and things that help you believe it. Keep working with the phrase until the old fears lose their power and you fully accept the affirmation as your new truth.