Congratulations! You survived 2022! How did it go? Did you make resolutions back in January? Did you stick to them? Personally, my resolutions always really struggle to hold on for more than a few weeks, and by spring, they’re usually nothing more than a wistful, guilt- and regret-tinged memory.
This year, I tried something different.
I didn’t want to make a set list of rigid goals, especially of the “do-so-and-so everyday” variety, which for me usually means missing one day and never returning. I thought about what I wanted my year to look like: what I wanted for my physical and mental health, my career, my social life, my marriage, my parenting… just generally who I wanted to be in 2022. The more I thought about it, the more I realized:
I was already working toward these images of the future. I just had to believe in myself enough to keep going every day.
That’s what led to my little experiment. Instead of resolutions, I wrote positive affirmations about the coming year. Every morning when I got up and every night before bed I said them to myself, out loud.
I know it sounds a little woo-woo. I was in high school when a counselor first suggested repeating affirmations in the mirror to me and I remember thinking “This is the cheesiest sh*t I’ve ever heard and I would rather die but thanks.” I do sometimes still feel a little bit like Stuart Smalley saying earnestly to myself, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” But there is real science behind the power of using positive affirmations. Our subconscious plays a major role in our self-actualization. Repeating positive phrases about ourselves and our lives with enough regularity helps to reprogram our subconscious thoughts and beliefs. You may not realize how many negative beliefs you hold about yourself until you begin to work against them.
Here’s how I did it:
On January 1, 2022, I reflected on how I wanted to behave and feel and what I wanted to accomplish this year. I then turned those ideas into first-person present-tense statements and wrote them down. I tore that page out to use it as my bookmark. Every night when I opened my notebook to write about my day that page of affirmations was the first thing I saw, and I’d read them out loud no matter how silly it made me feel. In the morning I would say them all again.
I won’t bore you with all of my personal affirmations (that would be humiliating), but I can give you a few examples. At the end of 2020, I’d had a bit of a nervous breakdown (just a little one!) that my therapist rightly suggested probably had a lot to do with my obsessive need to do every single thing exactly right all the time. By the end of 2021 I had not yet perfected no longer being a perfectionist (do you see what I’m dealing with here??) so the first affirmation on my list was, “I am not striving or waiting for perfection. I am simply doing my best, and my best is good.”
I also wanted to focus on the way I interact with others. I like to think I’m a good person (don’t we all!) but, realistically, I know that I am forever a work in progress (aren’t we all!). I aim to be a calming presence, and someone around whom others can always feel safe and comfortable. So another one of my favorite affirmations this year was, “I am warm, generous, kind, and uplifting. I leave everyone feeling better than I found them.”
Here’s how it went:
As it turned out, 2022 has been one of my best years. I went back to work this year after staying home since my son was born in 2018 and started an entirely new career path. I found time to work on creative projects. In general, I felt calmer and more confident than I ever remember feeling in my life. I have a solid social circle, my son is thriving, and my marriage is amazing. Can I say with total confidence that it’s all because of the affirmations? No. But I can say they certainly didn’t hurt!