Let’s start with a confession: when I first heard about the practice of reciting affirmations, I could not shake from my mind the series of Saturday Night Live skits performed by Al Franken for his character Stuart Smalley’s self-help show “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.”
As a teen in the ’90s, the earnest repetition “you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people LIKE YOU” always elicited giggles. No one really does this, right?
Fast-forward a few decades, and here I am at 43 making lists of affirmations in my trusty bullet journal, and doggone it, these things actually work!
Over the past few years, I’ve been surprised and thrilled to discover that so much of our experience of our outward reality can actually be shaped by our interior lives. Affirmations play a key role in this as we train our brain to think the thoughts that will, in turn, inform our actions, and those actions manifest our path through life.
If ever there was a time that we could all use some strengthening of our inward view of ourselves, it’s in the current reality that is 2020. Between a global pandemic, an unexpected quarantine, economic upheaval, and a restructuring of home and family life, there is so much that feels wildly out of our control.
And that’s where affirmations serve us so well. Though we cannot control the chaos around us, we can control our own thought life.
In the spirit of validating what is good within each one of us as well as affirming all that we bring to the world around us, I want to share with you five awesome affirmations for troubled times.
I am a force for good.
When the world around us is dark, it can be so discouraging to try to find the good. Even when the good is hard to find, please remember that you are good, and when you show up as your full self, using all of the gifts and talents that are inherent to you, your energy brings a force of goodness to all who are fortunate enough to cross your path today.
I carry strength and resilience within me.
Understandably, troubled times exhaust us. We may feel that every drop of strength we have has been depleted. But the good news is that strength is a renewable resource, and as you care for yourself and keep putting one foot in front of the other, your resilience grows, too. Look at how much stronger you are already!
I am willing to hope.
One of the first things we are robbed of when troubled times find us is hope. The history of humanity testifies that the loss of hope can cripple us, and yet, hope can be found and clung to even in the worst of times. Even when it seems impossible, when we are willing to look for it, hope rises to meet us.
I see the light in others.
Difficult times necessarily draw us inward. When our viewpoint narrows to focus on our own suffering and pain, we can lose compassion for others. And yet our experience of troubled seasons of life can be radically changed when we look for and recognize the light and goodness in others. From the stranger on the street to the person sitting next to us, we see the light they are radiating all around.
I am excellent to myself so that I can be excellent to others.
When life is difficult, there is a temptation to feel guilty for treating ourselves well; sometimes, we even feel guilty for tending to our most basic needs. And yet when life requires much more than we feel we have the capacity to give, it is imperative that we are excellent to ourselves. It is in these moments of caring for and nurturing ourselves that we expand our capacity to care for those around us with excellence, too.
Remember you don’t have to repeat these to the reflection in your mirror Stuart-Smalley-style (unless that’s your jam, and then, by all means, please do!). You can jot them down in the notes of your daily planner, you can whisper them to yourself as you put on your make-up, you can reflect on them as you clean up the kitchen. Maybe just one of them speaks to you in this moment or maybe they all do.
My hope for you is that subtle shifts in mindset that you have the power to create using these affirmations will bring about unexpected relief, hope, and resilience as you feel empowered to navigate troubled times in a way that leaves you stronger and more awesome than you were before.