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Erin Joy Henry Headshot

The Power of Affirmations

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Affirmations changed my life, in the good kind of way, the kind of way that made my thoughts about myself and the world around me go from mostly negative to, well, way more positive than before.

There was a time when I would scoff at the idea of new and wonderful results in life coming from reciting positive affirmations to myself. I would chalk this sort of magical thinking up to some sort of myth, a myth made up by those types of people that walk around like glazed donuts, with an optimistic smile permanently wiped across their face coated in sugar sweetness that couldn't possibly be sincere.

It is said that the average person's thoughts are 80-percent negative. I was no exception, but I didn't ever stop to think that maybe this was a problem. It never occurred to me that my negative thoughts could be standing in the way of me getting everything I wanted out of life and possessing inner peace.

When I became a believer in the effectiveness of affirmations, I thought it was so miraculous that I deemed the healer who taught me how to use them a fairy. I made an appointment to see this fairy lady after watching a friend transform herself from pretty glum to a bright ray of sunshine over the course of the last year. I wanted whatever it was that she had. I wanted to glow, too. She told me what she'd been doing, and I dove in head first. I made an appointment the following week to start my own transformation process.

The first time I went to see Megan Gouldner in New York City, I walked into her space, and before I could even utter a complete sentence, I began unexpectedly and relentlessly sobbing for at least an hour of our two-hour appointment. Maybe I had more negative thoughts going on than the average person? Definitely more than I was aware of. How screwed up was I?

When the waterworks ceased and I had spilled out the most current negative thoughts that had been occupying my mind, Megan took me through a process to find my absolute most negative thought -- the underlying one in my subconscious that was most likely the culprit of all the others. We zeroed in on this thought, and the process to turn it around began. I learned that everyone has some sort of most negative thought about themselves beneath the surface. It may be "I'm invisible," "I don't matter," "I am wrong/bad," "I"m not good enough." It could be anything. I myself fell into the "I'm not good enough" category. I had always been a perfectionist and overachiever and had never figured that the reason I had this condition was because I never felt like I was good enough just the way I was. I was overcritical of myself and constantly driven to be more and do more. It was running me into the ground.

Megan and I spoke for quite a long time, and then she had me lie down and do what is called conscious connected breathing. This made connecting with my feelings an easier process. Using the breath along with the affirmations made the whole process more effective. When we finished our first session of the 10 recommended, she sent me out the door with two positive affirmations that countered my most negative thinking. I was instructed to write the affirmations down 10 times, morning and night. I was still doubtful that this would have any sort of an effect on me, but I decided that I needed to at least give it my best effort. I went home that night and wrote down my new affirmations. I did it halfheartedly and went to sleep, still not really believing. The next morning and evening I did the same, and by the fourth day I couldn't wait to wake up and put pen to paper and affirm to myself that I was good enough and that it was safe to be fully alive! I was actually starting to believe this and able to say them out loud, as well.

Over the course of our next nine sessions, we worked on whatever most negative thought I walked in with that week. Each time, I would leave with my new list of positive affirmations and go through the same process. Some took longer than others to really sink in, but surprisingly, it didn't take long for those around me to notice that something inside me had changed. I was very quiet about my decision to shift my mind from negative to positive, in fear of judgment from other people. It turned out that I didn't really even have to tell anyone what I was doing for them to notice. And the affirmations made me stop worrying what other people thought about me altogether. I felt like I had started to shine just like my friend. I felt good about who I was and unafraid to show myself to the world.

I was sad to end my sessions with Megan, but upon completion she'd prepared me to feel empowered to create my own affirmations whenever I felt the need. If I were dashing through the airport close to missing an important flight, I would cite over and over to myself that the universe supports me in all my endeavors. Of course it wanted me to make my flight! If I were feeling defeated, I would write down an affirmation stating that I'm strong enough for anything that comes my way. It became easier over time. I felt like I had been given the ability to reprogram my thinking and undo the false subconscious thoughts that had been building since I was born. I started looking at our universe as one big yes, as opposed to before, when I saw a lot of nos.

I am happy to say that today I am not a glazed donut, but I am an optimistic person who believes in my potential as a human being and has faith that I am always supported in life.

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