Choose a Personal Affirmation
Affirmations are positive statements of intent and belief. They take the place of the negative mental chatter that may be gripping you. Affirmations serve to “make firm” the positive things about you and your circumstances. They are consciously chosen self-talk.
Affirmations are most powerful when expressed in the present tense. The phrase “I am grateful for life today” is much preferred over a future-tense alternative like “I will show gratitude for my life.”
Your words are constantly doing one of two things; building you up or tearing you down; healing or destroying. So affirm positively. You are not so much changing the situation as you are changing your thinking about the situation. Changing your thinking about the disease of cancer may be at the heart of experiencing wellness.
Self-talk is the constant conversation of our minds. We process everything, our internal dialogue always interpreting events and creating meaning. Positive affirmations can guide and direct this inner conversation and, in the process, change our response. These affirmations are simply short statements that express the desired outcome. When combined with an acceptance that the old belief is changeable and the genuine desire to change, we begin to create a new reality.
Positive affirmations were first brought to notice in the Western medical world by Emile Coue, a nineteenth-century French pharmacist who noticed that several of his patients dramatically improved when they focused on positive health outcomes rather than the negative fears and images of illness. Coue’s famous affirmation, which he encouraged his patients to use, lives on today: Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.
However, affirmations can be exceedingly difficult to believe. It’s one of the central reasons that positive thinking is sometimes limited in its effect. An exclusive focus on the positive can result in a sense of unreality. For example, if you have a strong inner belief that you are a bad person and disease is your rightful punishment, telling yourself that you are going to get well is probably not going to work. Predictably, it will be necessary to first recognize the underlying beliefs and challenge the negative ones before the positive ones can be effective.
Affirmation has been dismissed by some people in the medical community as brainwashing. In a way, it is. For years we have been brainwashing ourselves with limiting beliefs such as, “I am a bad person.” When you substitute an opposite and non-limiting belief such as, “I am a child of God, worthy of all God’s best,” you are deliberately washing your brain with what may seem to be, at first, an artificial construct.
This artificiality is often a problem at first. For example, the affirmation that “I am cancer-free” sounds pretty ridiculous when you’ve just been given the negative results of a CT scan. But the key is to initially pretend, to play with the new belief as if it were true. Our minds cannot yet accept a belief that contradicts the old limits. But it can accept a kind of imagery game in which we play with the new belief as if it were reality. And it is through the play and practice that the new belief gradually becomes believable.
Then we must act. Putting the new desired belief into action confirms and strengthens it. In a spiritual sense, this is acting on faith. You begin to believe that your new belief can be reality and so you act as if it is. At first you do this in very small ways, setting easily attainable goals. After the act, the very fact that you did it begins to feed your new belief. The result is that the quality of your life and health does change, in its own way and in its own time. I believe there is evidence that increases in life quality result in increases in life quantity.
I changed my health with one very import affirmation. Right in the middle of the cancer battle, starting at the point where I was down to 112-pounds, confined to bed and on morphine to control the pain, I began to affirm:
“I am cancer-free, a picture of health. Thank you, God.”
I coupled this spoken affirmation with a mental picture of pink healthy cells, a smile on my face, an image of being vital and alive and my hands outstretched held over my head giving thanks to God. If you came to our home today, you would see a photo of me on a beach, hands lifted overhead, greeting a new day and affirming a new and healthy life.
I would repeat this affirmation countless times—300 400, even 500 times a day. I’d whisper it. I say it in a normal tone of voice. I’d shout it out loud—at least when no one was at home.
I credit this work of speaking health and healing into my life as the point of power that turned the tide in my cancer journey. I urge you to make affirmations work for you. Change your mind and you’ll change your health. Whatever we affirm tends to become manifest in our lives. Why not affirm the very best, not out of blindness to illness but out of the well-founded hope of creating your own positive self-fulfilling prophecies of wellness.
Here’s how to challenge beliefs and make affirmations work for you:
- Understand and accept that the old belief is not reality.
- Nurture a genuine desire to change.
- Substitute the old belief with the new affirmation.
- Combine the positive affirmation with positive action.