thinking about positive affirmations

Here are some positive affirmations I found:

I am a diamond. It is time for me to shine.

My opinion matters.

I am a magnet for love.

Self-love is a natural state of being.

I am loved and I am wanted.

The site I got them off of has a massive list of all sorts of positive affirmations, these are some of the self-love ones. I guess half of me was curious about the process of positive affirmation and the other half was frustrated with myself for procrastinating. However, as I was reading some of these, I began to feel uncomfortable.
“I am a diamond. It is time for me to shine,” doesn’t that sound self-centered? I realized it was aimed at self-love, but it put me off balance. Growing up, I was taught that the highest form of good a human can do is to serve others. Focusing on yourself was a risky path down to the way of being selfish.
Even “I am a magnet for love”, and “I am loved and wanted”, these two involve other people. It’s like game theory, you can’t map everything out on your own because there are other player’s strategies you need to keep in mind. And deep inside of me, it felt wrong.
Not all affirmations make me uncomfortable or angry, but these particular ones did to a certain degree, and I was trying to figure out why. The answer is relatively straight forward: maybe I don’t love myself enough.
But the question goes deeper, because what does it mean to love yourself? Why do simple phrases get under our skin?
When we compliment other people, we say similar sorts of things without thinking, “Oh my goodness, you’re a Queen”, or “You have so much potential, don’t sell yourself short!”. In those situations, it’s usually clear: this individual being someone of worth is independent of everyone else’s worth. Person A is absolutely lovely, kind, intelligent, funny, and they are all of this without making Person B less kind, intelligent, etc. They are two separate people, and we recognize that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Something like, “I am a diamond” insinuates that your own life should be valued more than others. But also: does it?
A lot of the value of a diamond comes from the people who value it, who wear it. It’s a symbol of a bond typically. As living human beings, we exist in networks. There are people who value us, who like us near them. Our personalities in some way are the result of the bonds we have with other people.
As for “I am loved”, and “I am wanted”, these things are easy to doubt. By definition, you aren’t the other people around you. How can we ever be sure we are loved and wanted? Most people assume there aren’t psychic connections or body swapping magics we can turn to.
But this also has caveats we overlook. If you love yourself, if you want yourself, then you are loved and wanted. We need other people, but we don’t need the same exact people every day of our lives.
Sure, we have issues. We can be frustrated and wish we were physically different, mentally stronger, more adept, etc. But this doesn’t mean we can’t love ourselves through that. When we love someone, that doesn’t mean we are okay with what the other person does 100% of the time. Sometimes we can really dislike someone, but we fundamentally love them. The same can be true with yourself.
Self-love is more about being comfortable with the decisions you’ve made. It’s about having hope that tomorrow you’ll be better. It’s like any other relationship, you spend special time, you get gifts, you listen, you communicate (via introspection), and so forth. It’s being committed to making the life you live the best it can be.
Saying you are worthy of love doesn’t suddenly make you unworthy of love. Instead, it actually makes us more likely to love others. If you don’t need to spend all of your energy worrying about your image, about feeling shame over your choices, then you can live a better life for both you and those around you. Self-love isn’t being self-centered, it’s about being comfortable enough in your own skin that you can focus on others in the first place.

 

So yes, it feels weird at first, but say positive affirmations about yourself. Understand why you’re feeling uncomfortable, and why you’re saying it in the first place.

the dumbest saying

There’s a phrase, “Failure isn’t an option”. This is one of the most frightful outlooks to have. It encourages a sort of rampant perfectionism: either you win or you fail completely and you’ve destroyed this whole thing.

What human never fails? It aims high, yes, but it also punishes whoever doesn’t reach a ridiculously high standard. We should all do our best, but the fact is, sometimes that best isn’t good enough to reach our goal. This runs counter to how people want to tell the tale, “Work hard and you’ll get there!”.

Not to be macabre, but effort can be useless if you don’t wield it effectively. For example, it doesn’t matter how many hours you play chess if you only play with three-year-olds. You’re not going to become a grandmaster chess player unless you’re also three and there happens to be a grandmaster chess player for three-year-olds.

Even if you set apart the time to work on something, and you put your heart and soul into it, people can still critique it. Furthermore, they can be right.

Failure is a natural part of life. Everyone fails, and I mean every single person who has ever existed. If failure isn’t an option, neither is success, because the choice doesn’t exist. Sometimes people mess up. Sometimes people are mean and selfish. Sometimes people try their best and it doesn’t get them where they want to be.

The key factor in this is the fact that: just because you fail doesn’t mean you won’t succeed again. We can learn from everything, and not taking the risk in the first place makes us miserable people. Sometimes we need to feel sad and confused because the circumstances are sad and confusing. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to be a bundle of joy and happiness, but it also isn’t guaranteed to be a horrible soggy mess of a day either.

Failure is always an option, but so is Success.

And in most situations? Those labels aren’t effective shows of what you’ve gained from the situation. Things are as they are. We mostly struggle in some parts and do well in others, but it’s a mixed, patchwork of results. That’s okay. Patchwork is what makes us real, live humans with purpose and meaning.

the ability of responsibility

My spring break was nice, but deep in my heart I had zero intention of updating the blog over it, and so I didn’t. I’ve been having a little revolution inside of me, perhaps for the past year, that keeps poking out from time to time. The revolution is simple: I’m going to do what I want, and I’m going to own it.

As a young adult in an environment of uncertainty, anger, and fear, it’s easy to shut down. The world seems too much, so why deal with it? It’s the strain of defense that drives people into obsessions with TV shows and celebrities or leads people to dive headfirst into their job and ignore the rest. With our growing understanding of how psychology works, there’s plenty of ways to make compromises.

It is here that another person might begin a rant against “snowflakes” and argue about the nonsensical nature of safe spaces and so forth. I will not, partly because I’m a liberal snowflake myself, but also because the issue isn’t that people need to just “suck it up”. Frankly, ignoring emotions and stonewalling communications leads to serious mental health issues and broken relationships. Mental illness is rising in prevalence, partly due to social media that brings in a ridiculously high level of standard to compare oneself to.  We face problems in a new age, and we need to adapt to them.

Yes, our families, friends, environment, these all mess us up. No matter how wonderful the circumstances are, there are always problems. One of the strongest things we can do is realize that we are flawed. Things out of our control have brought a flurry of issues to each of us. However, those issues do not define us. As little or at great as we can, we can make a difference in our lives. There are things out of our control, but there are also things that are in our control.

Hopefully, my advice feels bipartisan: what makes the difference is taking responsibility. This is in both our accomplishments and our failures because we each have both. That rude comment? That was your fault. That awesome shot? That was your practice. That missed assignment? That was your decision. That fulfilling relationship? You are a part of making that relationship what it is.

We cannot assume others have the same capabilities as us. Some demons are bigger through another’s eyes. If someone is struggling, it doesn’t matter if you don’t see it as a big deal. It is to them. The same is true for our accomplishments. If you think you are a horrible person who has done nothing right, you’re wrong. Everyone has done a good deed, made someone happy, made this world a better place in at least one small, important way.

If you have made a mistake, congratulations! You are a human being. Maybe you were awkward. Maybe you were mean. Maybe you were even cruel. If you ignore the flaw, it won’t go away. Instead, we have to deal with it. We have to look it straight in its face and try to get up the courage to ask why it’s there in the first place.

Taking responsibility is hard, and sometimes it’s difficult to see where the line is between your fault and external events. However, whatever small part of the issue was yours, own it. If you did a tiny corner in a beautiful mural, that is your corner. We can often live our lives passing on the blame and recognition because we don’t want the responsibility of our actions, but it matters. You’re doing your best, recognize it in all its glory.

what are your stats?

We struggle, we learn. We do it again. The difficulties lie in all the other things that make that process complicated. Some mistakes can’t be taken back or changed or fixed. We can tell the truth and people may still think it a lie. We can fall into bad habits and not realize how much it’s hurt us until we’ve suffered something incredibly painful.

There’s always something we can do. There is always an ability to move on and learn from situations. However, it’s best to avoid making your life miserable in the first place! And the key step to that is looking for what we can improve. Do you need to be more bold? Less cocky? More kind? Less rushed? More ambitious? Try to look at yourself objectively. Then look at your relationships. Are you honest with the people in your life? Have you told them recently how much you care for them? What can you do to make their lives better? Do you need to give them more space? Maybe you need to move in closer?

Mistakes will happen and we may end up making errors we can’t ever change. However, taking a little status check every once in while is key to staying on your game. You are never too old or too young to learn and grow! It’s a process that helps give life meaning and develops us into people who are better than the people we were yesterday. So ask questions! Be honest with yourself. Give yourself a status check.

missing the train

Sometimes you miss an opportunity. You knew about it, you wanted it, but for some reason, you just didn’t take it. And what is the result? You’re in the same rut as before. You see others who have taken their own leaps and they are doing incredible things. When you look at yourself, you ask, “Why didn’t I take that chance?”

We don’t take risks for a lot of reasons. It might be terrifying! After all, any time you break a routine and spread your wings, you’re in new territory by definition. Or maybe you wanted to, but you decided not to because you thought you couldn’t do it. Or maybe it’s some other reason. However, life is a gift. There’s so much we don’t deserve but get anyways!

When we don’t take risks, it’s a horrible feeling because we knew we could’ve done more. We could have been more. But that’s the thing! Every moment is an opportunity. Maybe you missed out on something you could have loved! Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe instead you’re on your way to something even better. No matter what, the best solution is to move forward, to ready yourself the next time an opportunity comes around! You can do this.

the anxious zone

Working on desk is like being a deer in a bright orange cage in the middle of hunting season. I don’t much care for it. As a customer service representative for a library, there’s a solid trillion little details people could ask you at any time and you are expected to know them all. It’s incredibly stressful, especially since my primary job at the library is usually just putting books away or shelf reading, away from a majority of humans. 

It’s being in a situation in which I am incredibly uncomfortable, however, that reminds me how amazing it is that everyone is different. Some people genuinely hate pineapple on pizza. There’s cat ladies, truckers, soccer moms, people from every walk of life, all around us. What’s especially fascinating is how some people live in the same neighborhood their entire life, and others get frustrated because they’ve only visited five continents. Everyone has a different range of what is comfortable, and with it, different desires. 

However, at the end of the day, we need to be able to be uncomfortable. We need to be able to be in strange situations and figure out a way to deal with them. Life will never be as luxurious and relaxed as we want. Life will never stop being a struggle in some manner, so keep fighting. Fight to let go of petty grudges, fight to hold onto your values, fight to be better than the person you were yesterday! It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. It’s worse to stop fighting, and only more to gain to keep on.