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The Positive Slant On Business had a post called Reverberations of Praise about what can happen when you offer praise.

The Positive Slant On Writing was a Writing Tip on Wielding Perseverance in life and your writing.

Here on The Positive Slant On the Path was My Two Cents on Affirmations and what I think they can really do.

From the Files, Rants and Raves featured a review of the documentary on Muscle Shoals and its singing Tennessee River.

From the Files, Scenes and Musings was really a rant in the heat called Winter Woes from Head to Toes.

Hope you enjoy what’s blooming!

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I am a believer in affirmations. I do them regularly. And I feel it when I don’t. But there seems to be some controversy over them. Do they work or not?

It depends on what you’re looking for. Affirmations are positive statements, generally stated in the present tense. “I am beautiful, capable and loveable,” for instance.

Some want to say that repeating affirmations does not make you any more beautiful, capable or loveable. Maybe not.

For me, affirmations help to feel certain things. Vibrate at that level, shall we say. In that way you can, if you’re good and consistent, attract things. And anything repeated enough times has got to change how you see things. That can be extremely powerful!

I cannot, however, attest to being able to manifest things in my life simply by affirming them. But I can say that affirmations make me feel like I can. They keep me going when I’m slipping. Affirmations remind me of what I’m doing and why.

All writing is telling a story.  We tell stories about people.  Whether it’s an aging rock star in a parallel universe, the only fertile man left on Earth, or a girl who’s actually 300 years old.

Even when we’re writing about green energy, it’s a story of how that affects people’s lives.  There’s a story of fiscal realities in the experiences of a CFO at a corporate meeting.  If we’re selling a product or service, we’re telling a story about the benefits it brings to someone.

Stories are an excellent way to teach and illustrate a point.  There’s nothing quite like touching someone where they live.  When we tell engaging stories, we reach others on a level where they can say, “Yes, I see what you’re saying.”  Stories evoke pictures, allowing others to see what the writer sees, from the perspective of their own experience.

We tell ourselves stories all the time. When we exclaim, “Oh, I’ve never been any good at that,” we are just as much telling a story as I’m this age, have this job and come from this place.  I recently read stories about the Pioneer Women and what their lives were like. The stories their lives had to tell them.  What are our lives talking about today? What are the stories we tell ourselves?

I’m talking about the constant commentary.  Woody Allen wrote in his brilliant film, “Annie Hall,” in a scene at a party with the literary crowd. Woody’s character, Alvy Singer says to his then-wife, “I had heard that Commentary and Dissent had merged and formed ‘Dysentery.’”  Susan Jeffers called it the Chatterbox.  It’s that spewing of thoughts around how this one is that and that one is this. Judgements, gossip and evaluations of everything we’ve done or haven’t done, everything everyone else does or doesn’t.  Interspersed with that is the flotsam and jetsam of random thoughts, like to-do lists.  Emotions bubble up to sometimes yell at us (or someone else). Doubts materialize around whether we can or cannot do this because of this or that thing which happened before.  Doesn’t this add up to a story we’re telling ourselves? There are a million stories in The Naked City.  In a grand way this stream of consciousness story we tell ourselves everyday defines who we are.  We become the stories we tell about ourselves.

Don Miquel Ruiz wrote a wise book called “The Four Agreements.”  In it he talked about how we agree to buy into a belief system, a way of thinking, about ourselves, our community, our planet.  He explained, “The belief system is like a Book of Law that rules our mind.  Without question, whatever is in that Book of Law, is our truth.  We base all of our judgements according to the Book of Law, even if these judgements go against our own inner nature.”  You may always come from a certain place, your race and heritage may not change, but you can always change what you believe by changing the stories you tell about yourself in your Book of Law.

I believe in affirmations.  If you tell yourself a story about how you can often enough, with enough belief, you can.  I think I can, I think I can, I know, I know I will.  Energy and motivation can be had by telling yourself a certain story. There are those who have performed healings, done what couldn’t be done, overcome insurmountable obstacles, because they told themselves they could.  Whether it’s true or not, by the way.  It’s quite astonishing the things we can make ourselves do, simply by telling ourselves a good story.

The troublesome stories are the ones that don’t allow us to do what we long to do. The ones that scream we can’t from the Book of Law.  We need to find ways to break out of those laws.  Stories are powerful.  It’s easy to become attached to them coming out the way we want them to. There’s a real art to being able to move out of restricting beliefs, let go of the outcome, the ending of your story and allow it to take the shape it wants.

It’s been well established – here and elsewhere – that Feelings are the key to attracting people and situations into your life.  It’s the feelings which are the sticky stuff.  The timbre or quality of the stickiness is what designates what is being attracted.

I believe in this.  I’ve seen proof of it.  I use lots and lots of affirmations, I paint vivid pictures, talk a lot about it, write even more, been known to create a focus board or two. All in the pursuit of generating the good feelings I want to, anticipate having, when this thing or person appears in my life.

However, until the situation manifests, I am often faced with the current lay of the land which doesn’t always produce good feelings. It’s very easy to get smacked in the face.

Let’s say I want a new bed.  My thoughts are filled with the feeling of how good it will be when I have the new bed!  How I’ll dress it up with new sheets.  How I’ll rise with a song in my heart!  But the truth of the matter is I often get up with a sore back – which chases all those good feelings away.  The point being that life has a way of tempering our strong, attractive feelings.

So, it’s incumbent upon us to turn up the volume on our feelings whenever we can.  This was Paulette Terrel’s suggestion during our last session.  One way she thought of was the Hicks’ Rampage of Appreciation.  Which is just what it sounds like: a dedicated, full speed ahead, no holds barred list of everything you’re grateful for.  Paulette said I might add why I’m grateful for it, ramping up the intensity even more.  Why am I grateful for the sun, my car or all the wonderful people in my life?  Being specific in appreciation has a similar effect to being specific in writing.  It turns up the volume, making things clearer, more true,   It’s like listening to music. Sometimes when you turn the volume up, even a little, it fills the room and your heart, lifting spirits even higher!

How about finding a more juicy way to say it?  Instead of, “I want to lose weight,” how about, “I can’t wait until I can wear that sweater!”  In place of “I want a new job,” I might say, “I’m keeping my eyes open for a new opportunity!”

Whatever you can do to raise the intensity of the feeling, make it even better, fuller in your heart, the more attractive it will be.

I think I’m cranky because my back hurts.  I think my back hurts because of this, that or the other out there.  But it all comes down to my thought. 

I’ve decided to listen to my thoughts to see just how the thoughts are dictating how I’m feeling.  When I listen like that it makes perfect sense.  Sometimes I can hear a constant stream from “it’s cold,” to “the cat is being a pest, I’m tired, I would rather be doing that, what an ugly car.” Chomping away at all that’s not right. 

Okay.  I take a breath.  I’m grateful for all I have.  You know that was a kind thing he did.  I’m grateful he is in my life.  Oh, but look, I have a thread coming out of my sweater.  You know all my clothes are ratty and in need of repair.  Off I go again!

It seems logical to say that my back hurts because I need an adjustment.  And if I felt better, I’d have better thoughts.  But I believe it is the other way around.  That form follows thought.  I’ve been told as much by many wise folks.  But I say, no, my back hurts because I’m not getting enough rest.  Wait a moment, maybe it’s because I’m not getting enough exercise.  Always it’s my thoughts telling me I did something wrong, or I didn’t do it enough.  Do this game enough, without awareness, and watch it grow into something worse.

If I’m going to have my life move more in the direction I choose, all the affirmations and intentions won’t work until my thoughts are more in alignment with what I choose. 

I know of two good ways to control my thoughts.  One is, of course, meditation.  I’ve found it’s best when done regularly. No matter how small the time, as long as it’s regular (that means as many days in a row as you can, shooting for every day.)  The other way is intensive journaling to unload most of that chatter.

Awareness, as always is the key to it all.  Watching to see how your thoughts are creating your reality. Coloring how you feel, emotionally and physically.  It all comes from the thoughts.

I’m going to try making that connection: between how my body feels and what my thoughts are doing.  The discomfort might well be coming from thoughts I had hours ago, but there’s no time like the present to clean it up.

Cheryl Richardson wrote this week about breaking the spell of worry.  It’s sort of like the song lyrics getting stuck in your head.  When you get going on the possible negative scenarios you dig yourself deeper and deeper into worry.

Cheryl describes it as if you were under a spell. You can’t seem to help yourself as you spin more and more dire circumstances. I think many of us feel like we have to stay in that pool of scary stories  As if we owe it to whoever or whatever might be at risk.

But your magic wand, pointed to where you choose to put your attention, can reverse the spell.

The truth is we do more for ourselves and the other if we change the march from bad to good.  Cheryl suggested writing out at least 5 positive outcomes (or in process scenarios) for the thing we’re worrying about.  How would you like it to play out?  In an ideal world? Instead of repeating the “Oh my goodness, what if  . . .” affirmations, try instead, “Wow, maybe this could happen!”

I believe we can actually affect the energy. If not single handedly, we can at least help to trend the energy in the direction we prefer. Clearly we are the masters of our own universe.

Use your magic wand to change the spell, alter the affirmation, replace the repeating lyric in the your head to something positive.  Then watch the magic you can make!

We are a species who love to tell stories!  Good thing, too.  Except that we also believe them.  Sometimes without question. I  was talking with someone to the other day who said he had been told he was careless as a child.  And had just been that way ever since.

I understand:  Schools like to label children. It’s easier that way. (At least it was when I was in school.) When you’ve heard something over and over as a child, you tend to repeat it to yourself and then, consequently, live it. We are a product of the stories we tell about ourselves.  Most of them, however, were fed to us by others.  And if someone else says it, we are certain of its credibility.  So, over the years these stories (and the proof, as well) get ingrained in us.

But you know what?  These are stories.  Made up tales of what once was or may have been. As a writer, I can tell you, stories can be changed.  They can always be revised, characters reshaped.  You can make a hero more believable or more lovable.  You can sharpen the edges of the antagonist.  You might even paint the sky green if you like! There is just no reason to hold onto a story that isn’t serving you.

For instance, stories like I’m lazy or I never win anything.  He always takes over the conversation. She’s’ not a nice person.

My brother used to tell me about how if he spoke kindly about someone, the word would spread and the person would be well liked. You can build a story around someone.

It really is possible to tell the stories you want to tell.  You could say, “I may have been careless in the past, but now I am careful to always check my work.”  It’s really just a matter of awareness and practice.  You might want to guard against falling back into the familiar story.  Remind yourself that just because you were careless today, doesn’t mean you have to be careless tomorrow.

I believe in this storytelling business.  It’s how affirmations work. If you continually fill your head with good thoughts, you will eventually, start doing good things.  It’s all in what you tell yourself.  There may be much we can’t control in this life.  But we can control what we tell ourselves. 

With the right story, you could change your life, maybe even the world.

I used to think that negative thoughts had value and required heeding.  But now I think they do nothing more than zap your time and energy.  Listening to negative thoughts may, in some instances, give information about what’s going on.  But once you get the message, they can be nothing short of lethal.

Affirmations are good for combating negative thoughts.  Filling your head with positive thoughts can crowd out the negative.  But in an instant, as fast as it takes to stub your toe, another juicy negative thought can catch flame and the next thing you know, you are surrounded by them. “You suck!  How stupid of you to do that.  Man, that hurts!  Why wasn’t I paying better attention?  I never pay enough attention.” 

Rounding them up is a task.  They spread as fast as you can gather.  The only way to get away is to move away.  Like a police bullhorn shouting, “Back away from the child.”  You must obey.  Disassociate yourself from them. 

But it’s hard.  As Eckart Tolle says, these thoughts are fighting for their lives.  Being present in the now means their death. And whose voices are they?  Maybe your parents’ voices, a beloved care giver, even your own dear self.  Can you really kill them?  But kill them you must if you are ever to live free of their tyranny.

It’s possible, in the end, that you will never be totally free of them. But if you continue to step away from them, time and time again, they will lose their power to run your life.

From the book and workbook, “Living In the Light,” by Shakti Gawain.

I have a believe that Guidance is everywhere. SARK does too.  That there are messages in everything, including the way the sun comes through the window, the music you hear or a passing comment.

Shakti is taking this a step further. That everything we see and experience in our lives is a reflection of what’s going on inside. A person who lives in an argumentative environment, will tend to have argumentative thoughts going on inside.  It’s sometimes hard to discern which came first, the chicken on the egg.  But it’s clearly easier to change the inside than the outside.

Shakti tells us that “The external world can teach us about aspects of ourselves that we cannot see directly.”  As a good friend can point out a pattern in our behavior that we never noticed.

As Shakti says, life becomes a much more fun adventure when viewed like this. Everything in our world can help us “. . . heal old emotional wounds and core beliefs that keep us stuck in the same limiting or self defeating patterns.”  Now that’s what I call freedom!

To me this brings so much light to what we’re supposed to be doing. We spend our time running around trying to achieve this, change that, find something. But there it all is.  Right in front of us.  The Universe truly does conspire for our best interest.

There is a down side to this.  This amazing tool was not put here to help us beat up on ourselves.  When you first start to realize that you are doing all these horrible things you see in others, it’s easy to feel badly about yourself.  When a child makes a mistake in learning, we don’t say it’s a reflection of the worth of the child.  We are learning about ourselves.  Mistakes and the revelations they bring help us to grow and find more happiness.   “Once we shed light on a process that has been unconscious, it will no longer run our lives without our knowledge.”  Let’s try to look at all of this as a positive, forward moving process, rather than a reason to berate ourselves.  Just think what we can do with this information!

Exercise 10
For this mirroring exercise, Shakti gives us two rules. #1) “Remember to assume that everything in your life is your reflection.” #2) “Avoid putting yourself down for the reflection you see.”  It’s a gift for you to use and grow from.

Focus on a particular incident in your life that is troubling you.  Describe it.  Then ask yourself how this mirrors how you feel about yourself.

I am finding recently that my friends are quieter than usual.  This could be because it’s summer, but maybe I’m not paying enough attention to myself. Do you see how this works?  One of Shakti’s examples is of your boss getting angry at you for being late several times.  The Mirror tells you that you really don’t like your job anymore and have been dreading going to work.  Maybe you’re angry at yourself for not doing something about it.

If we can learn to look at these situations in a creative way, seeing the gift in each one, the sign that tells us where to go and what to do next, life can become a much more exciting adventure.

Exercise 11
This one is to see “a direct correlation between how we treat ourselves and how others treat us.”  It is a 2 column exercise.  In the first column, write down all that you did for yourself in the past week.  All the ways you took good care of yourself or did something nurturing just for you.  Then, see if you can find, for the “Mirror” column, ways this was reflected in your life.  What good things came to you?  For me, I took a day off and got a new client!  It’s not necessarily going to be a direct result.  Like, I took a bath and my child did what I asked him to do without an argument.  But they can build up. It’s important to notice that when you do good things for yourself, the world can give back in kind.

Exercise 12
This one is a little more complicated. Shakti wants us to take a look at the different areas of our lives:
Work and Career
Relationships
Money
Sexuality and Passion
Body
Home Environment

For each one write, in the “Mirror” column, “The major event or statement that reflects your attitude about each.” Then, in the “Belief” column, write the belief that the mirror of this event reflects.  Her example for Work and Career was “I have a job that I love to do, but I make a minimal income.”  The belief that is mirrored might be “I don’t believe I can make money doing what I love to do.”

The last step is to write an affirmation to turn that belief around. An affirmation, if you don’t know, is a positive statement, stated in the present tense.  Her choice for the above example was “I now make a good income doing what I love to do.”

There are conflicting thoughts on affirmations. Some ask, how you can you say it if it’s not true?  I believe the mind can be trained and this is just a training exercise.  The mind can’t always tell reality from fantasy.  So, you can fake it until you make it by repeating these positive statements to yourself.  The thinking is that if you can generate enough of the feeling, over time you will change your world.  Certainly, you can change what you believe that way.  We did it in school.

Have fun with this exercise.  Play with it. Take each area as it comes up.  Don’t rush it.

This one worked for me under Body. 
Mirror: I’m tired a lot and have a lot of minor physical symptoms.
Belief: I believe my worth hinges on how much I do, so I push myself all the time to do as much as possible. Resting and relaxing makes me feel guilty.
Affirmation: I deserve to rest, relax and nurture myself.  My body deserves to be loved and taken care of.  Just by being who I am, I am worthy and lovable. 
Who can’t believe that?

Shakti concludes this section by saying that it is a good practice to see this correlation between the situations in your life and your beliefs and add some affirmations to support you in changing the beliefs that don’t serve you.  But at some point, some of these issues may require more professional help.  If you’re feeling like you’re drowning in something, please, find a good therapist. Affirmations and awareness may not be enough in all cases.

Next week, we’ll look at the powers of male and female within each of us.

“Affirmations are more powerful than requests, for they remind you that you already have what you seek.” – Alan Cohen

Affirmations, I believe, are a really good tool for generating the feeling of having instead of the neediness in a plea of I want.

Affirmations tend to get a bad rap. Some people say it’s just a fantasy. That you can’t wish something into being simply by saying it over and over. It does no good to say, for instance, the sun is shining, when, frankly, it isn’t. I always seem to be convinced when others argue against affirmations.

But I have been using them for years and I find that my attitude is less bright when I forget them. Simple as that.

What Alan Cohen says makes sense. The power of affirmations is in the feeling they create. Affirmations shift you from saying, I want this, to the more present tense form of affirmation that says, I have this. Through this process you help yourself to feel what it’s like to have it already.

“Conversations with God” (as well as others) talk about the construction of “I want.” That it comes from a place of lack. After all, if you had it, you wouldn’t want it. In CWG, God tells us that using “I choose” is a more powerful statement.

Affirmations re-mind you to look more carefully. An affirmation like, “I am easily and joyfully receiving money from multiple sources,” keeps you open to noticing when and where you get money. You may find you’ve received an unexpected pay back, a refund check, and your regular income stream. Truth, reaffirmed. With the feeling intact, you are ready to draw more of the same.

Affirmations help you to tune into your life to see all that you currently have. And all that you are.

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