By Resilience Speaker, Jamie Mason Cohen
In 1984, my mom Estelle came home and said she was transformed by an experience. The experience was a Louise Hay seminar. Hay was one of the pioneers of positive personal development in espousing the belief that what you think determines what you feel and what you bring into the world.
I was amazed but initially made fun of what I read in the Hay book, You Can Heal Your Life, that she brought home. It suggested activities things like saying positive affirmations such as, ‘I love myself the way I am’. Look in the mirror and repeat this mantra.
I changed my mind about affirmations as an adult. There have been several studies that show that when you focus on positive affirmations, you gain mental and physical strength. Focusing on what’s good about ourselves has been shown to be 30% more helpful to our productivity and self-worth than focusing on the negative or critical voice in your head.
Feeling down? Repeat to yourself, over and over, ‘I love myself’. Create a positive self-talk feedback loop.
In the psychology of handwriting, if your capital ‘I’ slants back to the left, it might be a sign that a person is feeling low self-worth. If this trait appears in your writing, the simple affirmation of saying, I love myself, is a step towards reversing this feeling about yourself.
When they’re feeling overwhelmed with sadness, one thing you can do along this line of taking ownership over your self-talk is to do a ‘loving yourself meditation’ for seven minutes. Sit or walk in nature and say to yourself, I love myself.
Add the visualization of light coming into you or through you. So you there, it’s easier sitting than walking and you simply say over and over again, I love myself and you allow light to come through you again. It’s breaking up that negative voice.
It interrupts that negative doubt, the self-pity, the feeling of helplessness, that we sometimes feel. The third thing you can do is write out all the things that you need to forgive yourself for. What mistakes have you made at work or in your life that you’re not giving yourself a break on that you continue to beat yourself up over?
When you write things out by hand, the act has the power of transferring that negativity and feeling of heaviness into the page. Then, you write down those areas that you feel stuck in needing forgiveness for. You look at those pages for a week. Every day. You breathe in and say, after you read it over, I love myself. And then rip it up those pages at the end of the week.
I attended a Buddhist New Years Ceremony 20 years ago in Toronto. The Buddhist Nun had the participants write out one thing on a piece of paper that they wanted to let go of in their life.
Each row of participants lined up, walked up to this brimming, hypnotic row of candles, lit their card and dropped it into a large communal bucket. We watched our held-on to resentments, self-flagellation, and arrows directed at hearts go up into an impermanent flame.
Repeating the affirmation, I love myself, is a pure, direct and simple form of returning to self-acceptance in the midst of enervating, energy sapping self-directed tear-downs. It’s returning to ourselves, our essence, our best selves, our highest energy.
Ask yourself, ‘If I loved myself, what would I do in this moment, who would I be for those I love?