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ing about the event (for example, not smoking), or perhaps there are other forces at work.
Affirmations counter negative head talk, which generates fear, feelings of incompetence, and a sense of worthlessness. When we become stressed, afraid, or angry about our regrets and their consequences, affirmations calm us, providing internal support that is loving and reassuring. Affirmations have the advantage of being short and quick. They can be said aloud in the isolation of a room, alone in an automobile, or silently to oneself in a crowded office or grocery store.
The following guidelines will help you create effective affirmations:
• Keep the affirmation as concise and simple as possible, and make clear the desired future state that you are seeking. For example, “I accept responsibility for my own happiness” is preferable to “I am confident that I will come to see that my current state of unhappiness is not the fault of others but of myself.”
• Use only positive statements that affirm something rather than negative statements that deny something. For example, “I have forgiven my ex-husband” rather than “I don’t hold a grudge against my ex-husband anymore.”
• Choose words and phrases that you are comfortable using and that seem natural to you. The words do not have to be fancy or elaborate.
• Make the statement in the present tense so that it sounds as if the future state you are seeking already exists. Do not use the future tense. The objective is to communicate to your unconscious mind that whatever it is you want has already come true. For example, “I accept that I did the best I could at the time” rather than “I will try to accept that I did the best I could at the time.”
• Believe that what you are affirming is possible and also that it is true.
Affirmations are not commands to ourselves but observations about our lives. We are not ordering ourselves to become something but confirming that what we want already is. Affirmations can be said at any time, but they are especially effective when we are relaxed, such as when we are waking up in the morning or going to sleep at bedtime. Affirmations
can be written as well as spoken. Write the affirmation in long-hand twenty or thirty times on a sheet of paper, thinking carefully about the words. Believe that what you are writing is already true, feel the pleasure that the words evoke, and enjoy the effect that the affirmation describes.
As human beings, we are constantly visualizing to ourselves. We visualize whenever we leave the present moment to jump into the future, return to the past, or think about a friend. Visualization is a constant companion and a natural part of living. It is also an essential component of regretting. Whenever we go back to our regrets or imagine their effects on our future, we are visualizing. We have left the present moment and journeyed through time. When that journey to regret leaves us with recurring sadness about the past or fear about the future, it has been a counterproductive visualization. Those of us with regrets create visualizations like those all the time. What we need are more productive visualizations. The good news is that we can create them.
The visualization that takes us back and leaves us stranded in the past or propels us to loneliness or imagined danger in the future can be harnessed to serve another purpose. It can be used to heal our past, enrich our present, and reconfigure our future. Purposeful visualization is an extraordinary tool for changing—and healing—our lives. It is a skill we can master that will help us let go of our regrets. The process of intentionally creating vividly imagined scenes to bring about specific changes in our lives and ourselves is called creative visualization. It is a process through which we use our imagination consciously, creatively, and specifically to imagine things differently, to imagine them the way we want them to be.
In creative visualization, we create in our mind’s eye an imagined situation with as many effects of real life as we feel comfortable including— sounds, colors, tastes, physical sensations, smells. Our goal is to make the visualization as realistic and convincing as possible. Although we are constructing scenes filled with realistic details, what we are visualizing is some-
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thing that has not yet come to pass. We are imagining the future in order to manifest that future in our present lives.
Creative visualizations can be thought of as visual affirmations or even focused daydreams. They are not dreams because they are conscious rather than unconscious. They are not hallucinations because they are intentional and we know that they are imaginary. They are not ordinary daydreams because they are not for entertainment but to achieve a specific future state that we want to bring about.
Theories on why visualization works are varied, covering a wide range of disciplines. Science, religion, and New Age thinkers all have explanations. So did the ancient Greeks, and so do contemporary scientists. No one knows for sure why visualizations work, only that they do. Creative visualization has proven effective in divergent applications with considerably different stakes, from treating serious illness to improving one’s golf swing.