False positives in self-care can suck the life out of you and your process.
Affirmations and guided meditations can seem like a productive addition to a self-care routine, from a spiritual aspect or otherwise, because they’re readily available and so many people agree on their value.
But just because something is plentiful doesn’t mean it’s useful. Or more importantly, existence doesn’t guarantee its usefulness.
I don’t much like affirmations or guided meditations at all. You would think the opposite given I’ve founded a website all about bliss, right? To be clear, I love positive thinking but detest “affirmations” as methods of dissolving one’s discontent with oneself, or even dissolving one’s discontent with one’s life.
I grew up in the time of the “peace, love and understanding” of the 70s that was bred by the burgeoning self-awareness of the 60s. However, also in the 70s, there were people who thought acting in neutered ways would bring them “inner peace and happiness;” that if they cut themselves off from their tumultuous emotional side, they’d be at peace.
It wasn’t actually true that their emotional side was tumultuous, but I think human beings as a whole were experimenting with numbing themselves – via drugs or other means – as a way to reach some sort of nirvana.1 And to most human beings, nirvana can’t include their whole selves. Affirmations, as we know them today, were born from this time.
Affirming or Detaching?
Affirmations, to me, can represent a false front. I’m going to act like I feel good; tell you I feel good. But do I really feel good? There’s no real access to taking one’s temperature – feeling into oneself – and knowing the real answer to that question.
Acting like I feel good has no basis in reality if I don’t actually feel good.
Do I feel good? Do I know if I feel good?
Feeling good is feeling good. Nothing else can be substituted. And the way to feel good? It is personal. It cannot be duplicated. There are no formulas. You must feel into yourself. Feel into your feelings. You can only know from your own experience.
I’m about authenticity. If you’re angry, scream. Not at someone. Just out loud. The point? To feel through your emotion. Emotions are temporal. They give you life, not suck it out of you.
If you’re sad, cry. Most of you won’t like this one. We’ve been taught to “fix our faces.” “Don’t cry.” “Let’s make it better.” “That’s an ugly face.” “Let’s turn that frown upside down.” We’ve been told more times than we consciously realize not to honor our sadness. No wonder it’s so difficult for anyone to be empathized with in public for their organic responses in the state of grief. As a society, we simply won’t allow it.
You deserve to have the space to feel. what. you. feel.
Who’s going to give you that room? Only you. We stand for so much today, but… do you stand for yourself?
To feel through your own real and, maybe even, raw emotion is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself. That is the realest revolution of your own bliss you can have. An evolution of you in your own process.
Look, I’m about getting what works for you. If affirmations and guided meditations genuinely work for you, then do you. I’ll say it again, take only what resonates with you here, and leave all else behind.
Isn’t meditation the thing?
Absolutely. Meditation is an extraordinary tool, and a necessary one in this age of multitasking – which could also be called “multi-braining.” We think of our work even when our eyes are shut for the night. We don’t shut off our minds nearly enough.
However, guided meditations may not fully serve the purpose of stilling your mind. Your focus has to go to the words being said — words that you might not agree with; words that may make you question your feelings in an unproductive way, words that could make you feel bad about yourself because they don’t describe you or your life accurately, but you go with meditation because it’s recorded. With these guided meditations, your mind is running and processing instead of slowing down and stilling and quieting. So, in the end, the whole purpose of meditation is stunted.
Just follow your breath. That’s all.
For 30 minutes, or for 5 minutes. Either way, you’ve taken some time out. You’re connecting to the you within you. Some time out each day, every day, beats some idea of what the Dalai Lama or a Buddhist monk / nun would do.
If you don’t feel them, they provide nothing. It’s not about “do they work” or “can they work,” but “are they working for you?” Affirmations have been held up by many as a way of retraining yourself to think positively. But that premise can be like trying to put a band-aid on a fire hose of negative thought to stop it. If you’re not in the right head space, affirmations will only make you feel worse. Not better. Not by a long shot.
Most times your negative thoughts are beyond your control, and the impact can be experienced in your body beyond your mind. You want to find “tools” that suit you and benefit your individual desires.
Find out the connection your body has with your mind. Learn from others who are making these connections what may be at work in your mind and body. Get support to decipher wholly your connection to your spirit. You don’t need others to tell you what’s up with you, just open yourself to the possibilities that their dots connected might inspire your own dots connecting.
We are constantly evolving as humanity. We are all unique and yet we all share the design of being human. We all have wounds, and we can all feel good.
Feel around within your emotional core. It may at first feel strange to experience feeling into yourself, especially if you’ve never done this before. Not a problem. Begin again. It’s a practice. The best is when you can simply listen to you. This can be challenging, especially if you’re used to noise all around you. It requires patience, practice and trust in yourself. You can build on those principles even if you’re not so adept at first.
Remember, nirvana is best when it includes your whole self, and not just this piece or that piece of you. Including your whole self is a (r)evolution of bliss.
Check in with you. Check into you. Feel your way into your emotional core. Find your own guidance.
It’s you. You’re the key.
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1 The 70s weren’t a lone time in which people experimented in these ways, but this decade is more well-known than other times in history, mostly due to how many extremes it is marked by.