My problem with positive affirmations

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“Affirmations are like screaming that you’re okay in order to overcome this whisper that you’re not. That’s a big contrast to actually uncovering the whisper, realizing that it’s a passing memory, and moving closer to all those fears and all those edgy feelings that maybe you’re not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay and all of us are fine. It’s not just one way. We are walking, talking paradoxes.”
— Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are


Have you ever tried standing in front of the mirror declaring “I’m beautiful” when you feel everything but? Have you ever assumed that if you think something(and say it out loud) enough times you will start to believe it? Have you ever felt that there must be some aspect of positive affirmations that you’re not getting and that if you could only figure out what it was you’d be living your dream life? Have you ever just kept faking it and never making it?


A commonly occurring phenomenon in self-help literature is that of the positive affirmation. Research shows that positive affirmations can be beneficial for those who already feel good about themselves but can produce confusion and anxiety in those suffering from low self-esteem and a negative body image.


It appears, if we’re not careful, positive thinking can screw us up just as much as negative thinking. Because many positive affirmations are just lies in disguise.


And. Turns out, our souls are hard to bullshit.


But that doesn’t mean that positive affirmations can’t help you feel better about yourself, your body, your food choices, and your life.

The trick is to not veer too far away from the truth.


So for example:

“I love my body” is turned into “I am working on accepting my body as it is right now”

“I’m flawless” turns into “I have flaws but so does everyone else and that’s ok, its a part of being human”

“My life is perfect” turns into “My life is beautiful to me even though it’s full of ups and downs”


Even though stretching the truth a little to boost yourself can be a vital part in working towards a place of freedom around food and your body, there’s a difference between shifting your lens in an intentional way and fabricating a whole new you. So try tweaking your lens a little and baby-stepping out of your comfort zone and see if you can make positive (yet realistic) affirmations work for you. And if not, that’s ok. Go read some Pema and realize that none of us is okay and all of us are fine.




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