I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.
Of course, we have all heard of spring cleaning, but what if we expanded this idea and focused on a mental spring cleaning? This year has been full of challenges and extreme stress. We have been through it all- anxiety, sadness, grief, and chaos. What has helped you remain resilient? What messages did you send yourself during the rocky patches? We each have the unique ability to direct our own paths. In fact, the messages we send ourselves can influence us individually, can impact our relationships and can even change the way we interact with our world! Our words and thoughts matter; positive messages have the power to bring comfort, peace and even help us heal.
What are affirmations? Simply put, positive affirmations are positive phrases, statements or beliefs used to challenge negative thoughts. “Generally, they are used to manifest goals, dreams or experiences we desire.” (Dr. Tchiki Davis, Ph.D.) While there are no “hard rules” about the practice of using affirmations, if used regularly, they can help us modify a negative personal narrative (or belief) about ourself- shifting our mind toward the positive. Today, I will focus on how positive self-talk and affirmations are powerful tools that can bring clarity, increase self-confidence and foster an optimistic attitude.
How do I start? First, identify your trouble spot(s). Then, look below for a wide variety of options to fit your concern, or create your own positive affirmation that is meaningful to you. Choose a statement or phrase that resonates with you and encourages positive, happy feelings and thoughts. Then, repeat the thought in your mind. It’s easy! Positive affirmations are more likely to make an impact if you follow these tips: use the present (verb) tense, say the affirmation out loud (when possible), choose an affirmation that is meaningful to you, create a feeling when you say the affirmation, add a visual image to your thought to make it clearer, say the affirmation regularly, and be kind to yourself. I hope affirmations and positive self-talk will help you stay hopeful, grateful and calm. If you have never tried affirmations, I strongly encourage you to give them a whirl. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the power of your inner voice.
“You will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head. Be kind to yourself.” –Unknown
Mental Spring Cleaning- How Positive Self-Talk Can Help You Find Acceptance, Balance and Optimism:
1.Start Your Day With a Positive Message- Begin your day with a positive inner dialogue. If you find that the morning hours are harder, be very intentional with the first messages you send yourself. Switch to a positive, light tone. You have the power to change your perspective! To get you going in the morning, try saying these affirmations or other ideas:
- “I open my eyes to the light around me.”
- “The sunshine fills me with energy and joy.”
- Recite the beautiful Modeh Ani morning prayer upon waking. During the prayer, we thank G-d for “returning my soul to me.” Start your day in profound gratitude for the gift of life. Approach the day with love and appreciation.
- “I choose to be happy.”
- Listen carefully to the birds outside and marvel at the beauty right outside our door. What else is waiting for you to enjoy today?
“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.” (-Unknown)
2. Positive Self-Talk Can Motivate and Boost Your Confidence- Hearing words of encouragement can motivate, boost confidence and support resilience. Thinking the words is helpful, but if you are able to say the words out loud, they may provide even more weight. (Of course, speaking aloud is not always possible.) Here are a few positive motivating messages for different situations:
- “Today is going to be incredible.”
- “I am one step closer to my goals.” This is a favorite and can work in a variety of situations! For example, if you are trying to lose weight, it can help motivate you to stay on track (even if you have lost a pound!), or use this phrase if you are “chunking up” a big project into smaller, more manageable tasks. This is a great strategy for school, work or anything that seems daunting. Slowly, continue your progress toward whatever your goal may be; remind yourself of improvement with this positive phrase.
- “I am worthy of my dreams.”
- “Opportunity is everywhere.”
3. End Your Day With a Positive Affirmation- Help your subconscious mind drift off to sleep with these positive bed time affirmations. If your current thoughts make sleep difficult, turn them off, and replace them with these messages. Let your body find peace and a rest with these thoughts:
- “I let go of my worry and what I cannot control.”
- “I am calm and peaceful.”
- “I breathe deeply and I am filled with content.”
- “I am thankful for today and everything I have.”
- “I am safe and healthy.”
- “I give myself permission to relax.”
- “Tomorrow is full of new possibilities.”
4. Positive Statements and Affirmations Can Decrease Stress and Help us Cope- Practicing good habits and positive words are helpful reminders for positive living. You can say these affirmations when you are having a harder day, if you aren’t feeling well, or need a little pick-me-up. Try these:
- “I leave my worries behind.”
- “I am peaceful.”
- “I let go of my stress and tension.”
- “I am resilient.”
- “My body is strong and healthy.”
- “I can take things one step at a time.”
- “This is tough, but so am I.”
- “I will stay strong, and things will get better.”
- “I haven’t figured this out…yet.” – I love the power of the word “yet.” A tiny word, with a mighty message that is powerful for any age. Adding the word “yet” to anything you haven’t mastered or are intimidated by, will boost your confidence and give you motivation to complete the task. For children, this is part of the “Growth Mindset” curriculum, but as I said, it is great for any age.
5. Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength: Everyone experiences emotions of sadness, joy, fear and loneliness. Sometimes, self-talk is not enough; these feelings may be especially overwhelming or difficult to cope with. That’s okay. In fact, Jewish texts speak to this and remind us that we have a responsibility to care for our mental health. Asking for help from a trusted friend or a mental health professional may help you find relief. You are not alone; there are resources and supports available. Asking for help, sharing your problems and showing your vulnerability is a sign of strength. If you need resources or would like to speak to a trained counselor, it would be my pleasure to help you find a good fit.
If you are in crisis now, please get help immediately by:
- Calling 911
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
“You ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.”–Les Brown
6. Try Brain Health- Print out the attached brain health exercises and enjoy a little positivity!
- Try the attached worksheet called “I Look Forward to…” Completing this exercise will enhance your joy as you recall simple daily, weekly, monthly and yearly events that you appreciate.
- Try the worksheet attached entitled “ Intentional Actions to Choose Happiness” and watch your blessings increase!
7.Watch a Museum Moment: Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Education Director, Ellie Gettinger interviews Jay Hyland, Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Archives Director, as they discuss ways you can research your family history using the Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s resources. What do you know about your genealogical history? Learning more about your family history might uncover new stories, and provide beneficial historical information. Click here to watch this 13 minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIfHG8iNJdM
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.” –unknown
I hope this Touch Points provides a new understanding about our ability to influence our feelings and perspective. Through our thoughts, we each have the power to increase our joy and optimism. Please let me know what affirmations were helpful. I would sincerely love to hear. As always, if you have a question related to aging, memory loss or caregiving, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am here for you, and happy to help. You can find me here: DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org
Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,