One of the main things I was forced to come to peace with in the last 3,393 months of 2020 is that I need more rest. As an introvert and an empath - 2020 leveled me. Three hundred and sixty five days of semi trucks driving over my emotional energy. Unfortunately, laying in bed every day with my sherpa fleece wasn’t really an option, so I had to find other resources.
Affirmations: My path out of bed and and on the road to getting exactly what I wanted.
I run a business. I love showing up for the people I serve. There are also some days I have to coax my introvert. I remind her that she can do yoga at the end of the day and go to bed at nine. This works for me. But, understanding how brains function makes this process a LOT easier. Easier to remind myself that I can, in fact, do the hard things. (Mainly because I’ve done them before. And so have you.)
As a primer - our limbic system controls our behavior and it has several prime directives. The ones that will be relevant here are that your limbic system wants to give you what you want. As it is the most rudimentary part of our brain, it wants to keep us safe (fight /flight /freeze /fawn responses). The most common reason that folks don’t get what they want is that they are not clear about the desired outcome. Another reason is that they are not communicating with the limbic system in a way that it understands.
The limbic system lacks word-based language. The limbic system is the system that receives data from our senses. (Images, sounds, sensations, tastes, smells). Worth noting: word-based language lives in the frontal and temporal lobes. These lobes receive pre-processed information from the limbic system. So how do we get what we want? By describing what we want and allowing our brain to imagine what we want in the form of sensory input. Not joking, this is how we end making the biggest shifts in our life.
Communicating with your limbic system
A common example is that folks want and need more money. If you tell your limbic system that you want more money; it will look for how to get you more money. (Helping you is one of the prime directives of the subconscious, but that's another post.) But, of course, with our first example, there is a catch- you weren't specific enough. There were no senses tied to your request, so your brain looks for the simplest solution to your request. When you happen to find a dollar in your coat jacket - your brain will go CHECK! You have more money! Task done.
To start working with our limbic system, we start with future pacing. FYI: We're not even at how to use affirmations yet. Let's stay with the money example. If I need funding for my business, I need to set up meetings with venture capitalists.
Step one, I create the vision first.
“I’m going to go meet a venture capitalist at Blush and Blue on February 15. We’re going to talk about this new project I need funded. My favorite barista works on Tuesday morning. I already know I am going to feel a smile spread across my face when I walk in because her energy fills the room. I’m going to order a latte because I love tasting the sweet notes of caramel and the bite of the salt. I'll laugh when I hear the music switch as someone has requested their favorite song from the jukebox. Ascending the stairs to the library, I will feel the warmth from my coffee mug. I see the glow of the sun peeking through the window. I see my new business partner smiling at me - it feels as though we've known each other forever. There's a sense of calm certainty about the future. We're here to ink the details on paper. At the end of the meeting I have a $10,000 check in hand that will launch the Career Mastery Method Group Program. It feels like liquid gold is running through my veins."
Great. Now. How do we actually GET to this future?
By believing in the good. So far, we have clear directions using the imagery of the meeting. We also have the specific outcome and how the outcome is going to make me feel. Your brain knows a lot of those sensations already. So your limbic system goes “Okay, I have a map. Now I will look for circumstances that will line up the details of this meeting.” Off it goes. Your limbic system begins filtering sensory information for this data. Small details are important here. The brain gets 11 million bits of information from the senses every second. BUT, only has the capacity to process about 50 a second. You do the math you want your limbic system to have a clear map. In doing so, you are giving a lot of intention and attention to how to get to that meeting.
We are now going to add road signs to this map. This is where affirmations come in. It does not make sense to start with affirmations. You wouldn't have enough information. There are also already a ton of articles on the internet that tell you to "repeat positive mantras". Furthermore, if I told you to “you repeat things that you want until they happen” ...you would laugh at me. Reasonable response.
Affirmations are often thrown around like magic mantras. What happens when affirmations don't line up with our lived experience? Well, using affirmations while also believing we cannot manifest them isn't great. In fact, it has a negative impact on self esteem. Affirmations need context and must be reasonable for where we currently are in life.
If my affirmation to get me to that meeting was "VCs reach out to ME"... well, I wouldn't get to that meeting. VCs have no idea who I am. So that one doesn't work. Throw it out.
The first step to getting that meeting is connecting with people.
"I reach out and connect with new people every day."
"People want to work with me."
Now THOSE are an affirmation that will get me there.
The Other Secret?
I have evidence for both of these statements. I already AM the person I am affirming.
I do already reach out to people every day. I love talking to people about what they are working on. Sure, I'll need a different strategy to target VC's - but I have the hardest part on lock. Reaching out and connecting. Now, there are days I feel extra introverted. But, I now have an affirmation that tells me that - no matter what - I always will reach out and connect. Wouldn't want to navigate that cognitive dissonance if I didn't reach out.
Second: People do want to work with me. My clients love working with me. Clients will want to work me in the future. Clients are just a different type of business partnership.
Now, when I jump around my living room and affirm to the universe that I am this person, I get energized - not defeated.
Affirmations allow us to walk in the certainty of who we are right now.
This is how we amplify and accelerate our goals.
Now before we head out today - a quick reminder. Affirmations are not only for when you feel good about the world. They are for when it doesn't feel like you can be that person. That's when you take the evidence (like I showed you above) and you remind yourself. You can be that person; you've already been there.
There will also be days you don't follow through at all and that's okay. You are still the person that you think you are - because you are that person most of the time. Being human means having lots of different lived experiences. It is up to you how you string them together and make an impact. Just throw on your favorite sweater, grab some tea, and realize that you’re doing great.
Onward and Upward, Friend.