What we ultimately do comes out of who we believe we are.
A good friend of mine, who graduated with honors from Cal Berkley several years ago, is now the co-founder and CEO of a successful start-up in Silicon Valley. Throughout grade school she struggled with reading and writing disabilities. She spent kindergarten all the way through 12th grade in English ESE classes. During a parent-teacher conference when she was a freshman in high school, two ESE teachers collectively informed her mom that it was highly unlikely she would ever graduate.
So how did she do it? How did she push through and overcome the odds? “Affirmations,” she told me with a serious smile when I interviewed her recently for a side-project I’m working on. “I literally told myself that they were wrong about me. I told myself exactly what I needed to hear, every single day, to move my life forward. It may sound like a cliché to some people, but it’s not. It’s powerful stuff!”
I love her sentiment and I agree with her 100%. In fact, there’s a good reason why training our minds with positive affirmations works wonders like this.
Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time. If you haven’t pushed your mind in thousands of little ways over time, of course it’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging.
A mind well trained with positive affirmations has the right thoughts queued up and ready for retrieval at a moment’s notice.
If you’d like to begin (or enhance) this practice in your own life, here’s a selection of affirmations I often suggest to our course students, as starting point:
- “I cannot control everything that happens; I can only control the way I respond to what happens. In my response is my power.”
- “I will not get caught up in what could’ve been or should’ve been. I will look instead at the power and possibility of what is, right now.”
- “I have to accept whatever comes my way, and the only important thing is that I meet it with the best I have to give.”
- “Making mistakes is always better than faking perfections.” (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
- “I will never be as good as everyone tells me when I win, and I will never be as bad as I think when I lose.”
- “I will think less about managing my problems and more about managing my mindset. I will keep it positively focused.”
- “A challenge only becomes an obstacle if I bow to it.”
- “I will get back up. Again, and again. The faster I recover from setbacks, the faster I’ll get where I’m going in life.”
- “I will not try to hide from my fears, because I know they are not there to scare me. They are there to let me know that something is worth it.”
- “There is a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. Life is too short. I will invest in the activities that deeply move me.”
- “If I don’t have time for what matters, I will stop doing things that don’t.”
- “I cannot build a reputation and legacy for myself based on what I am going to (maybe) do someday.”
- “The future can be different than the present, and I have the power to make it so, right now.”
- “Peace will come to me when it comes from me.”
- “Getting ahead is essential, and I will never get ahead of anyone (including my past self) as long as I try to get even with them.”
- “I will focus on making myself better, not on thinking that I am better.”
- “I will be too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.”
- “I will eat like I love myself. Move like I love myself. Speak like I love myself. Live like I love myself. Today. (Angel and I discuss this process in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- “My next step in the right direction doesn’t have to be a big one.”
- “All the small victories are worth celebrating. Because it’s the small things done well that makes a difference in the end.”
And remember, one of life’s seemingly counterproductive gifts is the fact that it is often difficult. In dealing with life’s difficulties we build invaluable strength. This strength enables us to successfully fulfill many of our deepest, most meaningful purposes. It is precisely because life is difficult that we are able to exercise our creativity and wisdom. It is because life is difficult that we are able to rise above the difficulties. We are able to make a difference and we are able to leave our mark on the world.
What’s one of your go-to affirmations? What do you tell yourself when you need to hear it? Please share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Peeratam Tangtua