One of the things I hate most about the days after a tragic event like the shooting in Charleston this week is the focus being placed on the perpetrator while the victims become a footnote. Nine gentle souls lost their lives when a shitstorm of issues like mental illness, racial tension, drug abuse and access to weapons came together in one damaged man. We can not and should not attempt to simplify and make this about race or gun control or the Confederate flag or any single issue. No one would be served, especially not the men and women who died.
Going out on a limb here, but I also believe the question is not ‘Why did this happen?’, but ‘why doesn’t this happen more often?’ There are people all around us struggling with these issues. What is keeping them from colliding into violence more often? What are we doing right in most of our communities? How can we create healthier connections, more resilience, better beliefs about ourselves and others?
A group of men and women gathered to pray and worship together and invited a stranger into their sanctuary. My fear is that fear takes root and that strangers are emotionally locked out of our communities and our hearts. We can’t let fear or suspicion keep us from welcoming someone who is different, needy, hurting. and maybe even dangerous. I wonder if the men and women in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that day would do anything differently? I doubt it. And their loving vulnerability is a legacy for us all.
Affirmations have been mocked and misunderstood by many through the years. My own husband enjoys creating what he calls “Slam-firmations” and teases me with them. Interestingly enough, he has his own positive affirmation posted in his bathroom and on his computer monitor! I challenge you to avoid overlooking the power of a positive affirmation to shift your thoughts and beliefs. Here is how you can create powerful, belief-shifting affirmations:
1. Start your affirmation with the words “I am”. “I AM” is a name for God, and you are claiming Divine power and intervention when you start your affirmation this way. You can also start affirmations with words like “I know”, “I have”, “I love”.
2. Write your affirmation in the positive. If you focus on a statement like “I am not angry with my abuser anymore”, your focus is on the negative (in this case the abuser). Instead write a statement like “I have forgiven those who have harmed me and I am free from the wounds of the past.”
3. Write your affirmation in present tense. Even if you are not yet experiencing your affirmation, write and visualize it as if it were happening in this moment. This will shift your unconscious mind into making the statement true.
4. Use your own words and language that is comfortable for you. You want to use words that feel right on the tongue when you say them out loud.
5. Write your affirmations with passion and feeling. Your “I am” statements should be charged with warmth and make you feel energized, happy, and peaceful. Your affirmations will carry more power if your mind and emotions are engaged.
6. Engage your senses as you write and repeat your affirmations. Use rich, colorful language that creates pictures of the life you want. Write your affirmations on special paper with appealing fonts or script. Listen to music as you read and repeat your affirmations. If you enjoy incense, potpourris, or other room scents, use them.
7. Focus on the “what”, not the “how”. Let your mind examine what you want to be true, but do not let it question how it will happen. Your mind will limit the endlessly perfect possibility of how your future will unfold.
8. Incorporate your current successes and positive traits. As you focus on the life you want to create, recognize what you already love about yourself and your life. For example, “I am building my life upon truth because I have faced my fears and am strong and resilient.
9. Write affirmations about your deepest desires. Ask yourself:
• What thinking patterns or beliefs would I like to change?
• What circumstances would I like to improve or transform?
• What experiences would I like to have?
• What feelings would I like to enjoy?
• What do I want my life to be like?
You can write as many or as few affirmations as you like. You might make a list of several and rotate through them over the course of a week or month. Take time to read through each of your affirmations, letting the words and ideas sink in before moving on to the next. Affirmations can help you rebuild and strengthen you resilience, building better beliefs that support your success.
|re·sil·ience // (r-zlyns)
n. 1. The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.
2. The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity.
// (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)
When you look back at your childhood, do you experience happy memories or sadness? Do you focus more on the wounds of the past or the joys of experiences you had? The answers to these questions are very important to determining just how resilient you are. How strong are your beliefs that you can and will overcome obstacles and succeed? Research indicates that individuals with open wounds from the past tend to have more difficulty believing they can accomplish their goals. It is as if they are chained to the past, held back by powerful emotional cords. These cords consist of lies attached to the events of the past. Your own past and the stories you inherited from your family. These lies are misperceptions and misunderstandings and outright falsehoods about what really happened, your personal value, your ability to succeed, what others think, and what you believe about yourself.
Resilience, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is the ability to recover and even return to the original shape. You can overcome the wounds of the past and “bounce back”. And rather than returning to your original state, I believe you will become stronger, clearer and possess a message that will likely become part of your purpose and passion. It will take some work. It will mean going back and remembering the painful events of the past, but this time armed with tools that clean and cauterize the wound so you can heal. Once you have completed the work of healing the past, you will be ready and able to move forward into the future. You will experience freedom from shame and grief and find a lightness that enables you to soar over obstacles in your path. Limiting beliefs about who you are and what you can do will no longer hold you.