It was difficult to find someone who was as sweet, kind and positive as Betty. Her smile and laugh were contagious. What was amazing about Betty was that she grew up in a family that was extremely negative and critical. Her family was always complaining and seeing the worst of everything. I asked her, "How did you become so different from your family?" She shared with me that as a young girl she decided that in order not to be negative, she would give herself positive messages. Everyday, when a negative message entered her mind, she would stop herself and replace it with a positive message. Eventually, she became a very positive person. I saw her go through physical problems, the death of her husband, the hospitalization of her daughter with a terminal illness and other challenging problems, but she never became bitter or cynical. She was like a ball in the ocean. When we try to hold the ball down and it springs back up. She could get down at times, but she would not stay down.
Our feelings follow our thoughts so it is important to monitor the messages we give ourselves. How do we empower ourselves? One way is to begin every day looking into the mirror and telling ourselves what we would like to hear about who we are and what we can do. It is even more empowering if we say the empowering messages out loud. (I know this sounds like Saturday Night Live - nevertheless, it works!!) If we only think them, we can have conflicting messages that can discount the positive. When we say the empowering message out loud, there is less chance of hearing a discounting one. Of course, it might be wise when we say out loud these empowering messages to say them when no one else is around!!!
There was an experiment challenging the negative messages by using a golf counter. Every time someone would have a negative message, they would click the golf counter. At the end of the day, they would write how many negative messages they had given themselves for that day. An amazing thing happened. By the third day, the number of negative messages decreased. Why did the messages decease? Perhaps, people started paying more attention to the negative messages they were giving themselves.
Another way of trying to stop the negative messages is by wearing a rubber band around our wrist. Every time a negative message passes through our mind, we pop the rubber band. We say, "Stop! That is a lie. This is the truth." Then we give ourselves an empowering message.
We empower ourselves when we put affirmations around our home and when we give ourselves affirmations during the day. One of my affirmations is: "The power within me is greater than what I am facing."
We need to be our own cheerleader.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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