“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” – Charles Dickens
Imagine having the ability to lift yourself up whenever you’re having a bad day or going through a particularly stressful time. It is possible with the effective use of affirmations. Affirmations are simple, positive messages you tell yourself whenever you want to feel more confident or at peace with yourself. And when used mindfully, they work!
I get it; affirmations can seem pretty hokey. I may be dating myself, but I remember in the early 1990’s the show Saturday Night Live had a recurring sketch called “Daily Affirmations by Stuart Smalley”. The sketch was basically poor Stuart – always so down on himself – looking into the mirror and telling himself that he’s “good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
I can still picture Michael Jordan being a guest on the show and hilariously reciting those words! The Stuart Smalley sketch was so popular they even made a movie out of it. To this day you might still hear people saying that catchphrase in a way that mocks the very idea of affirmations. But all jokes aside, affirmations can be a very effective way to live with greater wisdom, confidence and personal power. Please read on as I share why affirmations work and how you can practice them in your life.
Essential Self and Ego Self
There are basically two sides of our inner selves. The side we’re more consciously familiar with is the person who we think we are, the self-image controlled by our ego (let’s call this the “Ego-Self”). The other side is the more authentic version who we are underneath, under our normal waking conscious and within our essence (we’ll call this part the “Essential Self”). This Essential Self is connected to our heart, and therefore has access to deep wisdom. But the Ego Self is the persona that exists on the outer edges, facing the world, all in its head and detached from our heart’s wisdom. Our poor Ego Self gets lonely out there!
The Essential Self doesn’t get stressed or lonely because it’s attached to our heart. The heart is the seat of the soul and the source of wisdom and love we all possess deep down. Our Essential Self is constantly at peace and always available for us to access if we just know how. The big problem is that it’s buried underneath all those layers of ego that automatically get produced to survive and cope in this crazy world of ours. Meanwhile the peace of the Essential Self gets drowned out, and all its heart-centered wisdom is gets lost in communication.
As a result, we all sometimes feel like Stuart Smalley, even though we hate to admit it. (Yes, the ego hates to admit mistakes or weakness of any kind too.)
The key for fixing this situation is simply to get the side of us that’s connected to the heart to tell the other side what’s going on. In other words, we want to get the Essential Self to tell the Ego Self what we already know is true. That darn Ego Self is so self-centered and distracted it just doesn’t like to listen. But we can train it to, with a little patience and love.
Fortunately, we can all embody our Essential Self whenever we want, with a little practice. That is why I use tarot and teach it to others: because it is a fun and effective method for doing so. There are plenty of others, such as meditation, yoga practices, spending quiet time in nature, and creating art or music. I strongly recommend learning and practicing at least one of these methods regularly, so you learn to access the heart-centered gifts within your Essential Self.
When you do, you can create affirmations and put them to use in your life.
Create Your Affirmations Practice
Once you have an intuitive method that you enjoy to access your Essential Self, you’re ready to start putting affirmations to good use. Here’s a checklist for creating an effective affirmations practice for yourself:
Create affirmations while connected to your Essential Self.
Affirmations are simple empowering messages that you communicate to yourself. In order for those messages to work, your heart must believe them, or your head won’t!
Use whatever method you use to connect with your Essential Self, and from that powerfully relaxed state be open to hearing the wisdom and truth you possess within your heart. You shouldn’t have to work very hard to hear it because it will be delivered to you through your intuition. If it feels like you’re exerting effort, then it’s not coming from your Essential Self; it is being manufactured by ego.
Be still and listen. Receive.
A good affirmation is likely to come in the form of an “Aha!” moment of epiphany while you’re connected to your Essential Self. You’re likely to feel as though the message was something you already knew deep down, but that you somehow forgot. These messages tend to be very simple and life-affirming. Things like:
- “Life is good!”
- “I love connecting with people.”
- “I have a purpose.”
- “I deserve to be happy”
- “I am beautiful inside and out.
Write your affirmations down.
Keep a journal and dedicate a section of it specifically for affirmations. I use the last few pages of my tarot journal for this purpose. When I hear an empowering message from my Essential Self that I want to use as an affirmation I make sure to write it down.
If your preferred method of intuition is something active like yoga or exercise, then write the affirmations down as soon as you are able.
Remember to only write down affirmations that you believe with your deepest convictions. When you receive a good message for an affirmation you’ll know because it feels like it came from your heart. It’ll just feel really true.
Review your affirmations and practice them
Periodically review the affirmations section of your journal. If they were written while you were connected to the heart-centered wisdom of your Essential Self, they will continue to resonate with you even if you’re in more of the Ego Self state.
Choose whether you want to keep a regular affirmations practice or if you plan to just use them as needed. If you want to keep a regular practice, choose a few affirmations that you want to recite per week. Then recite those affirmations every day during that week, perhaps a couple times per day. Again, the idea here is to train your Ego Self to remember the deep wisdom of your Essential Self. If you practice you will train yourself to remember more easily.
If you choose to just use affirmations as needed, then keep a few handy in your phone. When you feel stressed or insecure, pull them out and say them to remember the wisdom that your Ego Self has forgotten.
Speak your affirmations mindfully
When the time comes to say your affirmation, do so with intention and mindfulness. Speak it slowly, out loud. Connect to the words as you say them. Remind yourself that you’re simply remembering the truths you already know are true. Repeat the affirmation three times or more. Believe it because it came from within yourself.
You may notice sometimes that there is resistance from your ego to not want to say them or believe them. This where you have a fundamental choice to believe the deep wisdom of your heart, or the fear-based perception of your ego. Don’t worry about doing this practice perfectly; sometimes your Ego Self will win and that’s okay. When it does, notice how you feel when choosing not to believe your affirmation. What is the result inside of you and in your life?
Make a habit of choosing the wisdom of your heart and you will embody your Essential Self more often. As you do, you’ll make a habit of being more positive and at peace within. Your Ego Self will always emerge sometimes, but you’ll continue to learn to notice when it happens. And you’ll grown increasingly accustomed to choosing the love over the fear.
I admit there was a time I never would have used affirmations. Not only did Stuart Smalley make it look so ridiculous, but I figured if you have to repeat something to yourself, then you probably don’t really believe it!
Tarot brought a change to my attitude on affirmations. I noticed while using it I would embody a version of myself that felt both foreign and simultaneously deeply comfortable and completely at peace. I’ve come to recognize this other version of myself as my Essential Self, the heart-centered core of my being. More soul, less ego.
While embodying my Essential Self I would often realize truths about myself and my life that felt like a lost buried treasure. I learned this other version of myself was much wiser than the “normal” version of myself that mindlessly went about my day. I was able to not just see, but really FEEL this wonderfully comforting wisdom. In time I started to write down this wisdom, and even to speak it out loud to myself when I needed a shot of love. You can do this too.
We don’t view life at it is, we see it as we are. I invite you to use affirmations to remember the truth, wisdom, and love of your Essential Self. Learn to think with your heart and you’ll live with the peace that comes from within your soul. Affirmations are not a means of putting on rose-colored glasses. Affirmations are simply remembering truths you already know are true.