I grew up in the sixties and suffered/celebrated (it depended on the hour of day) my adolescence in the seventies, so one of the defining chants of my youth comes from the musical "Hair". I hadn't the foggiest what it meant at the time, but I liked it nevertheless.
I owe George Harrison a lot, as his first solo album coming out in 1970 was one of the defining moments of my childhood. Listening to his songs, and being enchanted by the use of a sitar (unknown in the safe Bach-orientated world of my parents), I crossed the threshold of childhood to teenager-mania. I read everything I could get my hands on about him (this was 2 years before I discovered David Bowie) and was fascinated by his brush with Indian religions and confused by the chorusses (did he worship Jesus, or didn't he? I was utterly baffled).
What I did understand, was that the lyrics made use of affirmations.
Years later, I dabbled in yoga, and was given my very first personal affirmation by the teacher. It was in Dutch, but I'll translate it for you:
I am grateful for my rich and blessed life
She told me to repeat this 10 times every morning, and all would be well.
I thought it was hogwash. But, I did repeat it for a while, thinking that, since I paid quite a lot of money for those yoga lessons out of my meagre salary, I might as well do it. But it didn't last.
Isn't it amazing how time works? Click open FB and the affirmations are flying around your ears! In 1986 I was not ready to take it seriously. Too young and naïve and optimistic, perhaps.
Nowadays I get the advice to use an affirmation left, right and centre. My acupuncturist gives me one. My friend gives me one. A nice website I visit regularly (called SoChicken) tells me to use them, magazines publish articles about mindfulness and give affirmations. I'm waiting for my local news rag to start urging me to repeat "I like living in Hellevoetsluis" 10 times every morning.
I've come to the conclusion that thoughts play a major part in how your life develops.
And affirmations are guided thoughts, as it were. If you have a lot of negative thoughts, your life will be mostly lived in negativity. If you make certain you 'bend' your thoughts around to positive ones, positivity will make you feel better.
This isn't as easy as it sounds. Try bending the immediate thought "I loathe you" (when, say, someone calls you an awful name to your face) around to the more positive "you only seek my attention, but you do it in a rather nasty way".
I have started using an affirmation every day, when I am on my way to work. I come out of the tube around 7.30 in the morning, and I have to cross a bridge over the Coolhaven, with a stunning view of the Rotterdam skyline. On most mornings there is a man, a stranger to me, standing there on the bridge, taking a photograph of that skyline. He takes his time, waiting for the perfect moment. I watch him, watch what he is watching, and I say
I will be strong, just and kind today and today will be a good day
I don't know if it obeys all the laws of good affirmations, and if it works. But at this stage in my life I can use every little bit of help.