I would like to introduce you to three extraordinary people. They have each granted me permission to tell their stories but have asked that their names not be used. Let’s call them Dom, Rick and Mary.
Last week we talked about the habit of self-affirmation and how we are, in fact, everything we tell ourselves we are.
Dom, Rick and Mary do not know each other, have never met, and yet all three shared a powerful, common trait.
All three had mastered the skill of soul-crushing negative self-talk to the point where, when I first met them, their lives consisted of constant daily downward spiraling into hopelessness, frustration, and despair.
They talked at length of self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and all three shared a belief that they were unworthy and not good enough.
Their ages ranged from 27 to 53. And there was one other thing they all had in common; they were all remarkably successful in their chosen fields and, on the surface, led lives of perfection.
One of them, the youngest, started a graphic design business several years ago that today employs more than 20 people in three cities. The second started out many years ago framing new houses and today owns a company that builds approximately 100 extremely high-end houses on the West Coast each year and the third has a flourishing dental practice that provides a lifestyle that would be the envy of many.
To the outside world it appeared that all three had it made and none would have argued otherwise. All were acutely aware of their own good fortune.
They each had a wide circle of friends, enjoyed strong industry recognition and acclaim and have delightful families who love and support them.
Yet they seemed unable to break the chain that daily bound them to those thoughts and feelings of self-criticism that had been their constant companion for as long as they could remember.
One by one, each of them over the past three years, came to the same realization that the only way to counter years upon years of negative, critical self-talk, the only way to still that destructive voice in their heads was to flood their minds with opposing thoughts that validated their self-worth and affirmed their tremendous value as human beings and that enveloped them in praise and reinforced repeatedly their capabilities and the greatness of their being.
Somewhat reluctantly, with grave doubts as to the value of this endeavor, each of them accepted my 30 day challenge.
Each of them, as discussed in last week’s blog, created a list of what they wished to believe to be true of themselves – not necessarily what they actually believed to be true and committed to passionately, enthusiastically, and congruently read that list over and over and over again at least four times each day for 5 to 10 minutes each time.
And they committed to do this for 30 days and to send me a text or email each day once they had completed their affirmations.
At some point in the first 2 to 3 days each of them called me and told me what I have heard, and continue to hear, from so many others.
They told me they felt foolish.
They told me this didn’t feel right.
They told me they felt self-conscious about saying things that they didn’t, for a moment, believe to be true.
They felt it was a monumental waste of time.
And in response all I asked of them was to continue.
Here’s where it became interesting. At some point in those first 30 day each of them contacted me, somewhat surprised, to inform me that indeed something was becoming different. They weren’t able to clearly define and articulate what that “something” was they just knew that something felt different. And I simply encouraged them to continue.
And they did, right up to day 30 and beyond.
By day 30 each of them reported profound differences in how they felt about themselves and so I suggested they continue. And they asked how much longer they should continue and my answer was “forever.”
The reason behind my answer is this: old habits do indeed die hard, and sometimes they don’t die at all, they just lie around waiting for an opportunity to go back to work and that lifelong habit of critical self-denigration may well spring back to life if we become complacent for even a moment.
I pointed out to them that if they continue this practice, day after day, there would come a time in the future when they would do this with the same degree of unconscious competence as they had previously unconsciously berated themselves throughout each day.
I’ve seen this massive change in hundreds of people. I was my very own first guinea pig and, truth be told, it took me more than 90 days to complete the first 30. Because I started and stopped and started and stopped, never quite believing that there was any value until one day I made a promise to stick it out for 30 days, and then kept that promise. That was many years ago and I still, to this day, continue that practice.
Over the coming weeks, months and hopefully years we will be discussing many habits that, when incorporated into our lives, will profoundly and positive influence our outcomes.
I don’t believe there’s a single habit that is more foundational to our sense of self than the habit of positive, uplifting, inspiring and energizing self-affirmation.
So again, I invite you to take the 30 day challenge. For the next 30 days, once you have completed your affirmations four or more times, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text to (403) 862 – 5019 simply with the word “Done.”
And I will check in with you in 30 days.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.P.S. Please give some thought to being a guest blogger. If you have struggled with some tough habits that don’t want to go away, or if you have enjoyed the success of adopting new ones, please email me at email@example.com with your story.