Perception is everything. Some of us see our glasses as half full, some as half empty. Some of us wonder if it’s the right glass, or if the stuff inside is fit for drinking. No matter where we stand, there can be little doubt that the way we see the world shapes our experience of the world.
And that’s great news, because it means that instead of trying to change or control the world – a monumentally difficult task, we can change the way we perceive it to improve the quality of our experience.
One way we can do this is by changing the things we say when we talk to ourselves. There are millions of possible affirmations and hundreds of books on the topic, but I think that there are 3 unconventional affirmations that have a disproportionately large psychological benefit:
3) I love you: Not merely a phrase to be used with family and romantic interests! We should say this to ourselves with every encounter with another human being, and we can even do it with animals, plants, and other the things we encounter throughout our life.
Saying “I love you” opens us up to be compassionate and empathetic with others, to be accepting and non-judgmental. It prevents us from creating barriers or a “me vs you” mentality. This allows us to meaningfully connect on a deeper level than we otherwise could.
This is particularly important to do when we’re feeling angry or frustrated or are dealing with someone we don’t particularly like, are disagreeing with, or who is closed off to us. It allows healing to take place and love to win in every interaction – and there’s little in life that’ll improve our experience more than that.
2) I don’t know: We are conditioned to analyse everything that happens in our lives and come up with justifications for why things are the way they are.
We often feel like we have a need to explain ourselves, justify ourselves, and rationalize things – and yet, often these things are complete fabrications, stories that for better or worse become our reality as we reinforce them – the result of trying to make unconscious actions fit into our conscious self-image.
Taking the position “I don’t know” instead of blindly rationalizing events we don’t fully understand requires a ton of humility and self awareness.
And more importantly, it opens us up to new ideas and possibilities, to the mental flexibility that is absolutely necessary to learn and grow. It tells us that it’s okay to be wrong, and gives us the space to explore and to make those important mistakes that help us improve our understanding of the world.
1) I am here: This phrase puts us in the present, grounds us, and gives us a safe place from which to assess the situation and take correct action.
We often feel pulled into the future or past by our fears and desires, which can cause us to forget the importance of making the best decisions for right now. Instead, we run – toward pleasure and away from pain.
This behavior makes sense, but it’s not sustainable and won’t lead to a lasting improvement in our lives. Ultimately, we can never outrun our fears, and when we tire we’ll see that they’ll still right there with us.
Saying “I am here” gives us an alternative to running or fighting. Instead of us moving quickly through the world, we become still and can see the world move around us.
It’s a place of self-acceptance and non-judgment. Whatever happened in the past, disappointments, failures, shortcomings – none of it matters when we center ourselves in the present.
It’s the most empowering thing we can tell ourselves.
And the personal power we can acquire from these 3 phrases, each with only 3 little words, are enough to change our life.
|Written on 3/8/2014 by AJ Walton. AJ Walton sold all his stuff to travel the world in an effort to better understand the human animal and what makes us tick. Now he helps people escape The Hedonist Treadmill and live passionate, creative, fulling lives at Cracking The Happiness Code.|
Photo Credit: Joanna Penn