When in Doubt, Think it Out
The power of positive affirmations
I have spent the last year understanding the power that lives within our words. The last few weeks have been covered in heaps of snow and I often remember the winter I needed a root canal. The snow that winter had fallen early, but stuck well into the beginning of spring; regardless, the gritty slush of the streets was not something I looked forward to everyday. My appointment was set on the opposite side of the city from me and nothing but the city bus was willing to take me that far. I rode the whole ride with my lips pursed together, something I grew used to as the biting cold of a quick breath sent my tooth into a frenzy. It was a preventative practice more than a response one, yet it was the most simple. My time in the dentist’s chair was uncomfortable; hands in and out of my mouth, water, spit; I found myself reciting the same promises of making it through the procedure. I told myself: “it’s okay”, “hold your breath and close your eyes and you won’t feel any pain”, “you can do anything; hold on”. What was a brain buzzing with anxiety was a confidence, a comfort, that things were only hard for a moment and that the hardship was making room for goodness. Of course, my trip to the dentist was more than a metaphor for the power of positivity and belief; it was the chance to chew with both sides of my mouth, but it was also a reminder of the power of self-affirmation.
This is just an example of the many uses of positive affirmations; in this case, I reassure myself, but there are a myriad of ways they can be employed. KIRU reminds us that The Book of Positive Affirmations remains a trustworthy guide on how to effectively love yourself, know yourself, and grow yourself. In this collection is an emphasis on continual improvement that is beneficial to any free thinker; at its core, it is a reminder that positive affirmations are more than just “feel good” phrases. Understanding the science behind positive affirmations begins with Claude M. Steele’s self-affirmation theory (Aronson et al., 1999; Sherman & Cohen, 2002; Steele, 1988). The American Psychological Association defines self-affirmation theory as the concept that people are motivated to believe they are “well adapted, moral, competent, stable, and able to control important outcomes”; situations which contradict these beliefs create psychological distress and can be soothed by the self-reassurance of positive affirmations. That is what I mean by the power within our words, our ability to call on what we desire and lure it towards our reality.
The past few weeks have been an icy reminder of the hardships that await; it has been the slow drag that follows the holidays and introduces beach days, monotonous and barren. Yet, spring is right around the corner and the flowers cannot wait to stretch their petals out in the warm breeze. The skies will open, spill rain, and bring forth all of our secret hopes and dreams of springtime. All of our winter wishing won’t be for naught and we will sit under the scorching sun and remember when we were cold and lost and hopeful. It is the power of motivation, of brushing yourself off and trying again, of calling on a positive change, and boosting your confidence to prepare for the blessings to come. Positive affirmations bring your best case scenario to life through a commitment to self-improvement that elevates your values and fortifies your self-efficacy. Look in the mirror and memorize the wrinkles that form when you worry about your future; fall asleep in your own arms, and plant yourself alongside your seasonal veggies. Ask yourself two truths and one lie, run yourself a bath, then stretch out and reach towards the moon; know yourself so that you can love yourself and, then, grow yourself. That is the ultimate goal, and with the use of self-affirmations, it happens every day. Just as the nights slowly melt into a new, blossoming day, all that is bad will slowly reveal itself to be good, as the positivity you put out comes home, takes off its shoes, and crawls back in the bed.
With an emphasis on human emotion, memory, and reliving experience, Nubia is a Chicago-based short, fiction writer. As a working-class, black woman their life experiences within hegemonic academia have informed their writing, pushing their interests towards the representation of the Other while capturing the varying perspectives of those deemed unworthy of empathy.