One thing that I've discovered while doing this forty-two day practice is that I have the attention span of a fourteen day practice. So when I write my own book to help you break through your old tapes and negative self-talk, it will be quick and to the point. :-) And then I'll just sell multiple books, different volumes maybe. Workbooks. With pictures you can color in and doodle on. Because that's the kind of attention span I have. Enlightenment for the Easily Distracted. I think I just figured out my first book title. Look!!! Shiny things!!
My biggest issue with these personal development (self-help) books, is that they talk and talk and talk and tell us that we need to feel better about ourselves in order to get anywhere. Yeah no shit!! My huge question is always HOW???!!! How do I get rid of all of the voices in my head that tell me that I'm fat, that I'm stupid, that I'm not good enough, that I'm just dreaming and I need to settle the fuck down and get a real job already. How do I get rid of the old tapes that tell me that unless I keep my body in tip top shape my boyfriend is going to cheat on me? The old tapes that tell me that my hips are "birthing hips" as I was told in MIDDLE SCHOOL. MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! Gross. Tapes that I've listened to for 23 years.
This book, May Cause Miracles, is a start. But it's certainly not going to reach everyone. I don't know Gabby's history, but if you see her now, she's really thin. Sure, all women of all sizes have body issues. It's just hard for me to connect with someone that doesn't look like me, so I can only imagine how somebody that is overweight or really struggling with their weight is feeling. I'm not trying to minimize or diminish Gabby's attempt (and success) at helping women drop the ego and negative voices and move into a more empowered state. And I'm certainly not saying that I can do a better job. I'm just saying that I'm on Day 17 of this and while I'm taking a lot in intellectually, I'm still having a hard time taking it in emotionally and spiritually. Maybe that's why there's forty-two days of doing this? So it starts to sink in...
For a while now, I've often wondered if affirmations even worked. I felt like I was just looking in the mirror and lying to myself. Sure, I can say over and over again that I'm beautiful, but when I don't believe it, the incongruence in my speech and thoughts is more disempowering than it is empowering. And then in March 2014, the article Why Positive Affirmations Don't Work came out and my thoughts were affirmed. The author, Dr. Sophie Henshaw, states, "The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results is an inner struggle."
Bingo. But that's all these self-help books teach us!! And in AA, Fake It Til You Make It. But faking that I love myself is a shitty way to live. How do I really get to the root of it? For me personally, I did many years of therapy, my favorite being Somatic and EMDR. These two forms of therapy helped me to move through my past trauma and start to believe all of the affirmations I was telling myself over the years. From my experience, your issues just don't go away. And they seem to keep coming up over and over and over and over again until you're finally sick of it and decide that you'll do whatever it takes to make things better. And you know what the shitty part is? So many people don't think they need therapy. My favorite question to ask those people is, "Has what you've been doing in the past, up until this point, been working for you?" Oh, it hasn't? Weird. Find a therapist.
The best part of the Positive Affirmations article is that it tells you what does work!! Read the article for all of the details, but basically, instead of telling your self-lies with affirmations, you look at what you're saying to yourself. We'll use me doing stand-up comedy as an example. Before I would get onstage, I'd have a pep talk with myself that usually included me saying, "You're going to kill it tonight!!! You're the funniest person they've heard and they're all going to love you." All lies. In my head I was telling myself not to go up there and eat shit, I was going to forget my jokes, they were going to hate me. And the worst, most crippling one: What if they don't laugh?
Using this new method, I would say something like, "What makes me think I'm going to go up there and bomb? Was that my experience last time, or did the audience like me? In fact, last time actually went really well, how can I do more of that this time?" You acknowledge the negative self-talk and have a real conversation about it, instead of just pretending like it's not there. In fact, this is what therapists do to re-frame the negative self-talk you do when you're in their office. So you could be saving yourself some money by starting to talk yourself down off of the ledge. It gets you out of the victim mode and into more of an empowered thinking model.
So. back to the topic of What Do I Choose to See in the Mirror? I choose to see a woman that has some extra lovin' on her tummy from yummy dinners with her boyfriend. I choose to see strong and muscular Thunder Thighs. (I'm embracing my childhood nickname now. I love my strong thighs!!) I choose to see someone who has fought hard to become the woman that she is. I choose to see someone that is capable of loving and being loved completely, even after having her heart destroyed. I choose to see someone that eats healthy and nutritious food, who will stand at the cupcake cart at a wedding and eat four in a row, who loves to feel and look good, and someone who can share her experiences with other women so that maybe they don't feel so alone. That's what I choose to see now. How about you? What do you choose to see when you look in the mirror?