Why Affirmations Did Not Work for You
Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 26
You've probably all seen the Instagram memes that are like, "I should just love myself." I actually ran my hand through my hair and did little Timotei shake off my mane as I did that; I hope you all felt it. "You should love yourself", says Instagram. And whenever I see things like that will up on the Internet, I'm like, "Yeah, whatever." or "Nice one. How?" or "Do you not think maybe if I had figured that out already, I'd be doing it by now? Thanks for the instruction manual." It is like drowning in a sea of mediocre memes. That's how I often think of the self-love vibes on the internet.
And it's a shame because they're well-intentioned. They're not very useful. It is like someone buying you a gorgeous piece of DIY furniture without an instruction manual. You can probably figure it out independently, but it will take a lot of time and effort you don't have. And more often than not, if you don't know how to do it and you don't have the impetus to sort it out on your own, and you didn't intend to go in that direction in the first place, probably just going to sit in a box or go on Freecycle.
So I think this kind of vision of "I love myself, I'm dancing on a beach with my hair, flipping in the breeze" version of super filtered self-care that we see on the Internet is kind of the modern-day version of looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself 200 times and feeling nothing, feeling absolutely nothing. And that's because our brains can't leap from, "Oh, god, I'm so stressed. Everything's a little bit pressured. Maybe Derrick doesn't fancy me, and I think I'm going growing toenails" to "Aren't I a goddess" in the mirror. It's just such a ridiculous leap. The two things are not even close. They just ultimately, it's like saying the "continent of Asia" and "a stick" and "some cheese" - there just random words. It doesn't mean anything. It has nothing to do with each other at all.
So one of the ways that I have found that is a helpful version of this, and I think it is probably what these sort of "affirmation vibes"... "just find you in peace, man." One of the ways that you can find a connection to some of these words is just to find some incremental, neutral thoughts that are more in the direction of the place that you want to be going. So it could be if you are used to looking in the mirror and criticising your stomach, for example, which many, many of us are. Are there any thoughts that you could think of that could take you to a just slightly more neutral space? Rather than, "urgh, that's disgusting", which I think is quite common. It used to be a very common one for me. Some of the steps that are used away from that are "That is a human stomach.", "Look at that human stomach.", "Look at that human." "That's human skin.", "Humans are allowed to have stomachs", "My body would look pretty weird if I didn't have anything there at all", just a big gap that would be stranger than what I'm now calling disgusting. A big invisibility panel... The humour works, making it as light as possible. Just take some of the earnest fawnings out of the whole thing. "Oh, it's so difficult. Can't seem to shift my terrible thoughts about myself." Like, where can you make them silly? Why must they be so grave and earnest and terribly hard? Is there any way you could bring a bit of lightness to how you speak to yourself? That will encourage you to do it more than if you label it, it is just one more thing on your to-do list. So just one more thing that's a chore.
So I think this has just been a tiny brief episode this week on why I believe affirmations sometimes can feel very easy to dismiss because they can fit a bit trite and out of touch, but that the premise of them can be very useful if you apply it in a slower, gentler, more applicable state and infuse it with your personality. Make it yours. Like as much as these beautiful sceneries with some very bold font slapped over them can seem inspirational and aspirational of how we want to live our lives. Making it more applicable to you and something that means something to you is going to tell that it's just that slight bit easier for you to grasp on to it and, and then you've got, I thought that you could practice and rehearse and start reconnecting and wiring up those brain signals. Hence, as discussed in the last episode, it becomes a bit more familiar to you.
So I would love to hear some of you need your thoughts, anything that you could use as a ladder step climbing, climbing out to the well and onto dry land again and seeing if there's anything... if you love any guidance with it. So if there's anything, I'd be thrilled to look at some pointers with you if you would like to do that.
Please feel free to get me an email or get in touch with you on socials. I accept the Instagram DMS (only the nice ones), so do get in touch. I'd love to hear what you've come up with and I'm also very happy to help you with that if you would like to look at it more.
I hope that's been useful. Have a super week and if you can't have a super week, try a human week. Just take it down a peg. Have a week that could have the possibility for some self-care in there and maybe online. You could work towards a bit of kindness. Just try neutralising it a bit.
See you next week.