Hey there! I hope that your new year has gotten off to a great start! I’ve been a little behind in setting goals and writing out my intentions for the year this year. I think it is because the holidays hit on a week day, and so the rest of the week just seemed like an extended holiday! But, I wanted to share something with you that I started doing last year that I think has been really helpful for me.
As I’m sure you know by now if you’ve been following along, that I have had a long battle with chronic illness. For last several years, I was so bogged down with pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and fear from it all that it was taking over my mind and I couldn’t see anything past what I was feeling in that moment. I was struggling to see a future for myself that didn’t involve pain and struggle. My illness isn’t the kind where you eventually get better a week later, like you would when you have a cold or the flu. When people say “I hope you feel better soon” it actually would make me feel worse because I knew that wasn’t going to happen. It was just a reminder of that fact. But, as I was exploring ways to heal myself, I kept coming across people saying that you have to work on your emotional and spiritual health, too. You can’t ignore that. If that’s not healing as well, you won’t ever get better physically. Part of healing the emotional and spiritual health is changing your thoughts to be more positive. While I always knew that thinking positively was beneficial to me, it was so hard to do all of the time when I was in so much pain and feel so lousy. So, instead of just trying to remember to think positive thoughts, I physically wrote them out, framed them, and put them in the place where I spend a lot of time and would see them every day as a constant reminder: my bathroom!
Last January we went on an amazing trip to Hawaii! We spent New Year’s there, and it was incredible! A couple weeks before we left I had just started having constant, horrific bladder pain that would not let up no matter what I tried. That was when I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. We almost didn’t make it to Hawaii because of it. But, I figured if I was going to be in pain anyway, Hawaii was probably the best place to be experiencing it! Lol. I was in agony the whole way there, most of the time we were there, and even worse the entire way home. But, while we were there I was working so hard at staying present in the moment and being so grateful for everything I was experiencing. Hawaii certainly made that easier to do! It was honestly just what I needed at that time in my life. I felt so inspired by the beauty and my time there, that I promised myself I would continue to do this when I got home to help cope with the pain. I was journaling my thoughts and using meditation a lot. But, one day I got an email from the Lyme specialist, Dr. Rawls, that talked about the power of positive affirmations and how placing them in front of you can be really helpful. It gave examples of things to write down that would help to retrain our brains to think differently. So, instead of thinking my usual thoughts like, “This is never going to end, I’m going to be in this kind of pain for the rest of my life”, I turn that around and write down “I will heal and do wonderful things with my life” and “I am doing good things for my body and it will respond”. I got out my old art supplies from college and wrote down several more affirmations like “I am becoming more calm and focused everyday”, “My life has value”, “I can and will heal”. I made it look pretty with colored pencils and drawings of flowers around it. It was actually a really peaceful and relaxing exercise! I decided since I spend a lot of time in my bathroom getting ready for bed and to go out during the day, I would frame it and put it on the counter. This way, I see it several times a day and those thoughts go through my head each time I look at it.
A year later, I’m ready to write myself some new affirmations because now I know without a doubt that those things I wrote down are TRUE. I think it really did help me to believe and get behind the idea that positive change was possible for me. None of the statements were lies or things that were utterly impossible! And by seeing them each day and reading over and over “I am doing good things for my body and it will respond”, I started to see and believe the truth in those words. I felt like I was letting go of some fears and trusting my body to do what it naturally wants to do. On the really hard days those affirmations helped to bring some positive energy to my mind and calm my nerves. If you think about it, we do repetitive exercises for our physical health, so why not for our mental health?
Even if you’re not sick, you can still benefit from positive affirmations! This year, I’ll be writing some that don’t have to do with my health, which feels pretty amazing! For so long my health was the only thing going on in my life. So for example, one of mine this year is “You are capable and worthy of success”. I’ve always struggled with feeling like I am good enough to do things, or deserve to have good things happen to me, which is another negative thought process that I’d like to see turn around! We all have untruths that we tell ourselves and those things just stand in the way of our happiness and fulfillment in life. So, whatever yours may be, turn that thought around, write it down, and put it somewhere where you’ll see it. Then maybe you’ll see some positive changes for yourself, too! 🙂