I was three years into my hectic medical practice in Crystal River, Florida, working on my goal to build a successful business. I worked from 7 A.M until midnight. I commuted seventy miles on a daily basis, between two hospitals and two medical offices. As a new solo practitioner, I was responsible for setting up the practice, hiring and supervising the employees, billing and collection, all while providing medical care. Thoughts on organizing and growing my medical practice came and went like a busy bee flitting around a honeycomb. I was only able to retain the most pressing and urgent thoughts while most of my creative ideas and pensive thoughts were lost in the haste of my medical practice. I ran from pillar to post in a rat race without vision and mission, never having a chance to sit back, relax and systematize my thoughts or actions.
In the midst of this tempest, I took a skiing vacation to Breckenridge, Colorado. On my first day there, I returned to the lodge, exhausted after a long day skiing in frigid temperatures, I slumped into a couch sipping on a cup of coffee while watching the panoramic peaks of the mountainous range. My body numb and brain empty, I was lost in pensive thoughts watching the gleeful skiers swooshing down the slopes. On my third day skiing, while restfully watching the skiers, out of the blue, I had an epiphany--- I wondered what the heck I was doing with my life? Do I really enjoy what I do? Should I be working this hard? Are there any better and easier ways to practice medicine? Could I ever find the joy in practicing medicine just as the people on the ski slopes? As my mental fog cleared slowly and clarity returned, I thought of an article I had recently read about the benefits of self-affirmations. I decided to draw up my own list of self-affirmations at that very moment. I hurriedly jotted down on a piece of paper everything that was important to me, and then chose the top eight principles on the list to practice regularly. It dusted off my mental clutter and confusion. That was the most exhilarating and empowering moment in my life. Thus, a list of self- affirmations was born by the end of my vacation.
A. Do we need affirmations?
We live in a rapidly changing world with growing wealth and affordability, mushrooming material comforts and expensive lifestyles. Open markets run our economic life: business competition creates new and updated products that are constantly alluring customers, banks are pushing their clients to borrow and spend. People wanting to live up to these higher expectations are spending more than they can afford, on a myriad of social obligations such as: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and on sophisticated lifestyle options and not on their day to day living. The consumer debt results in permanent stress on the individual and economic system. People struggle constantly to match their limited resources with unlimited expensive lifestyles. A life without stress is only possible with affordable, economically rational decisions and manageable debt. Without such a mindset, they slip into the gambit of escalating stress in life. Simply wishing, believing, and praying gets us nowhere. But setting up and practicing self-affirmations based on your affordability, values and beliefs can help accomplish a stress-free life.
B. What are affirmations?
Affirmations are concise, self-talk statements that “firm up” what we intend, believe, value, and do. Affirmations are useful, personal, and practical tools that help focus on our goals, values, and beliefs. Affirmations save us from daily distractions and temptations. Affirmations allow us to stick to the path and purpose in life.
C. How do affirmations work?
Exactly how affirmations work at the molecular or neuronal level is not clear. Neuroscience has just begun making inroads in this area of research. Human thought is the most logistical nightmare for a scientific study. Moreover, scientific evidence often follows human observation and experience. Normally, human mind is engaged in purposeless, random, negative self talk most of the daytime. Negating it with a purposeful, positive, goal oriented self-talk fortify acceptance and deepens commitment working on our goals. Affirmations integrate and harmonize our subconscious and conscious minds and eliminate inner conflict and confusion. Positive statements boost focus, creativity, and self-confidence in enduring our actions. At the very least, they rejuvenate good moods and thoughts for the day.
D. Setting up affirmations
Sit down and relax in a most peaceful place that is conducive in creating a tranquil mindset. Reflect on your entire life now: your job, health, wealth, family, relationships and your purpose in life. Write down all the affirmations that come to mind based on your goals, values, and beliefs. Prioritize them in the order of importance, and choose the top 8-10 to practice daily. Affirmations are not a long laundry list of goals, wishes, and wants. They should be on a short list of self-empowering statements that reverberate deep in your mind and body. These constitute a positive healthy psychological axiom that could negate self-limiting beliefs. Affirmations are set lifetime but occasional amends along the way with changes in life could be entertained.
Write down your self-affirmations with concise, simple and direct language. Always write them in first person and in the present tense just as they are happening now or happened already. Enter them in your journal or diary or record them on a CD, iPod, iPhone, or on an index card to insert into your wallet. Post them on your desk at home or office, on your screen saver or any place you dwell most often. You want to be able see them throughout your day, to remind yourself of them until they are ingrained in your memory. Read them aloud, sing, chant, or revel in them in your private moments. Let them sound like music to your ears.
E. Memorize your affirmations
Memorizing your self-affirmations makes practice handy and easy. We can recall them at any time or anywhere we desire. I used to forget practicing my affirmations for days and weeks at a time, until I memorized them. Ritualize the practice of affirmations until it becomes second nature. Only then, can you appreciate the full benefits of affirmations.
- Dr. Purna Bikkasani (Saradhi)