I sat there frustrated, disillusioned and diminished by someone I was absolutely sure I didn’t want to be with. He said, “I could never be with anyone else” and a week after I broke up with him he was indeed, dating someone else. I asked myself, “Why do I care so much?” while at the same time, I knew the answer: I had low self-esteem and I had been equating his desire for me, and praise of me as a reflection of my unique worth and value as a person. When it became clear that his esteem of me reflected his own desperation and not my worthiness, I was devastated.
By this time in my life, I knew enough about co-dependency to see that this was unhealthy. I logically knew that I would never find the kind of love I wanted if I didn’t love myself first, but clearly I was not there. I had been looking outside myself for things that would make me feel better inside. It wasn’t working. In addition, trying to make myself feel better by DOING more, being more, and giving more wasn’t working either.
I began asking some tough questions about my beliefs about myself, and the power I had to change them. I was pretty clear how they developed having come from a dysfunctional family, but did that mean I was fatally flawed and incapable of changing it even if I wanted to? What did I believe? Having learned about the Law of Attraction, which says that, “Thoughts in mind produce after their kind” (Anderson and Whitehouse New Thought), I knew that the power to change belief was within me. The thoughts of low self-esteem may have seemed very real to me, but they were only thoughts. I realized I was capable of making a choice, I could choose to love myself.
I had been using affirmations for other aspects of my life for a few months, was it possible to use them for this too? First, I tested the water by saying some self-loving affirmations: “I love and approve of myself”. After saying this aloud, the first thought that came into my head was, “Yeah, right!” Clearly, the truth of this affirmation was too far from my current level of belief about myself it was just wishful thinking.
Then I remembered that in Life Coaching we break goals down into small steps to raise the likelihood of success, so I changed the affirmation to, “I’m willing to love and approve of myself”. This was beginning to feel more comfortable. Certainly I was willing. This gave me the space to raise the level of my belief gradually.
Saying the affirmation on a daily basis for awhile I began to feel that something else was missing…after all, the basis for starting this affirmation in the first place was that I had abdicated the power of my self-esteem to someone else. So, I changed the affirmation once again to reflect my inherent power in seeing myself as I choose. It became, “I embrace the power of my lovability and self-esteem. I willingly love myself because I choose to and because I was created lovable, valuable and worthwhile.” This not only felt really powerful and life changing, it also felt true to me. This was a choice I could make on a daily basis.
It’s been several years now since I started this particular affirmation and my belief in the power of affirmations is confirmed. I have seen a very gradual shift in my beliefs about myself and in my behavior. I’m more likely to notice today when my boundaries are being violated, rather than dismissing my internal feelings. I honestly believe I have something to say and contribute to the world. I’m no longer willing to settle for less than an authentic me in my relationships with others and I can honestly say that I like myself today.
If you notice your view of yourself is less than positive and you are continually looking to sources outside of yourself to improve it, I invite you to consider using affirmations to modify and shift your beliefs about yourself. For me, the power of affirmations is undeniable.
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