Several years ago while in nursing school, I had a professor teach a class on positive affirmations. She had been struggling with fibromyalgia for years and found herself unable to get up from her bed. In trying to combat the disease (there was not much research out there at the time) she came across literature about the astounding impact that positive affirmations had on people. She decided to try this approach and came up with an affirmation for herself. She wrote it at night several times in a notebook; she would repeat it in her mind; and she would drag herself to the mirror every day and verbally repeat it while smiling in the mirror. Within years, she found herself back in school and then teaching at a major university.*** She was a favorite among all the nursing students at our university.
I have continually reflected on this professor’s words and the ideas that she shared. Almost 10 years later, I am using the idea of positive affirmations in my children’s lives.
I first decided to do this because I heard a friend say to a child that was complaining, “We are Smiths, we can do hard things.” I loved it and found out that it was their family motto. I decided to add on to it for my family, “I’m a Jones, I can do hard things and be happy about it.” I love having this motto because if there is complaining about chores, going somewhere they do not want to go, or anything else that is out of their comfort zone, I repeat our motto of being happy while doing hard things. My friend who is currently going through a divorce and worried about her children has added on, “We are Smiths, we can do hard things and be happy about it because we stick together.” One night while her son was crying, she and he were talking and she was able to say, “We can do hard things because we stick together.”
I believe that it is important to learn to do hard things and find the joy in every situation. (Yes, I am one of those people.) I learned the value and joy of doing hard work and chores from my mother. With this value instilled at an early age, I applied it to myself in college and earned an academic scholarship by doing the “hard things” and finding the joy and satisfaction of earning good grades. Confidence accompanies this principle and makes life enjoyable.
While I am naturally outgoing, my eldest daughter is quite shy. I researched this topic and found most children grow out of this if handled in the right way. However, I was concerned about the qualities and attributes that I wanted to instill in my children. I wanted these attributes on the forefront of my mind as well as theirs. So I sat down and came up with a list. I had to write it down because it was somewhat long but here is what I came up with.
“I am confident, strong, happy, healthy, intelligent, a leader, kind, beautiful, obedient, and I am blessed when I choose the right.”
These were attributes that I wanted my children to possess. We started saying this phrase that same night. It has now become our routine that after scripture study and before family prayer each night, we repeat the above motto and follow-up with “I’m a Jones, I can do hard things and be happy about it.” Has it worked? I will let you know in 15 years but I do know that they go to bed and wake up with those great qualities floating around their heads.
As a side note, we have had several children stay overnight at our home while their parents have been away or attending to emergency situations. I have heard from all of their parents comments like, “What is that thing you say with your kids? My kids want to say it.” Another mother said to me, “We had to come up with our own motto because we are not Jones, we need our own slogan.” I believe the children love having something that provides purpose to them as individuals as well as a family.
Recently, I went to the movies with friends and watched, “The Help.” I loved the nanny that told the little girl, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” What a wonderful thing for all children to have–something to combat the ugliness, the unkindness the world can sometimes bring into their lives. We have all experienced the pressures and the critical barbs of people in this world. As a mother who worries about my own abilities to be the best mother I can be—I feel that I was inspired to use the tool of positive affirmations.
I will always be grateful to my professor who shared her experience and research on the value of positive affirmations. Funny thing, just last week I was thinking about how much I have grown in the past few years. I literally thought, “I am so much more confident than I used to be.” I wonder if that has anything to do with saying my children’s positive affirmation several times a day?
*** (I am not suggesting that fibromyalgia is cured by positive affirmations. There were a lot more details to my professor’s story. I just touched on the part that really impacted me.)