Resiliency Skill: Denials and Affirmations- Part One

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In this blog, we will expand on the material in Redemption from Biblical Battering. One of the tools that rebuild strength in the woman who has been attacked by an abuser is the ability to mentally develop and rehearse denials and affirmations.

Using the power of your words to create your experiences can be very satisfying and stress relieving.  More than just positive thinking, denials and affirmations are a dynamic duo in managing our perceptions and feelings toward achieving satisfaction in relationships, work and other areas. They are based on the truth that the universe is supporting us and that love prevails in assuring us our good because this is the Divine Will for our lives. They create what Jesus called “the Kingdom of God within you”. If we think about what would the evidence be that Good prevailed, that is what Jesus meant. Harmonious relationships, happiness, fulfillment, peace, love, wisdom, kindness. We can create these through the power of our heart-mind-words.

Basically as I have practiced this technique, which has a long history in truth studies around the world, the dynamic involves creating space and affirming deeply. Some of the wisdom that supports this practice includes the idea of mind, idea and expression as the creative formula for our world; as in heaven, so below; living in faith; or practicing the presence of God.  It is not wishful thinking or a Pollyanna approach; It is not self-hypnosis because you cannot convince yourself against your will. It is based on the concept that we participate in creating our good by using our power of being made in the image of God, who made the world through the Word. They emerge from an integration of mind and heart that is life producing.

Denials and affirmations work hand in hand. Denials create space or release negativity so that a more positive experience can present itself. Then affirmations build improved conditions for living, whether materially, emotionally, mentally or in other areas.

But before I create or decide upon the wording of a denial or affirmation, I have found it important to do some depth work to identify as closely as I can what is really desired. I say this because I have had the experience of receiving what I had affirmed and then realized I was not specific or accurate enough in what I had affirmed! This is not to say that it was a negative effect; just that I saw what I had missed emphasizing that would have been even better. Good, better, best. But that is fine. I learned and did not lose out, a good growth process.

Or be prepared to find out that the results you desired showed up but in ways you hadn’t anticipated. For example, I may have been affirming that the sale process proceeds in Divine Order after my bid on a house is accepted. However the realtor creates so many problems that I never buy the house. So the sale did proceed in Divine Order. I was not supposed to buy that house. I find out later that it had many problems that I would not have been able to afford. So the difficulties that arose were not obstacles, but the process working out as it was supposed to. Continue to affirm, even when it does not appear to be working.  You will either learn how to modify the affirmation or denial to be more accurate or see the good in new ways. Repeat it daily and then go about your business, not giving it any more thought. Proceed with the assurance that it is coming to be.

So the depth work, either through journaling, counseling, talking, or other processing, helps me identify the core concern or issue I am dealing with because I don’t always know. Someone once asked if it was the problem or the feelings I had about the problem that was troubling. I thought this was an astute observation, similar to the idea of wanting money or wanting what you think money will provide. Money (tangible) is desired for what people think it will secure (intangible, such as security, fun, power, freedom, etc.).

In addition to accurate identification of the concern or issue, it is important to include the feeling desired and to associate an image with the desired outcome. Imagination plays an important role in creating denials and affirmations. In fact, it seems what is in most need of healing or fulfillment is exactly what denials and affirmations work most effectively to create. In other words the things that disturb us are usually signals from our shadow selves, some area we are not in touch with and which need resolution. Denials and affirmations are powerful tools for resolving these issues because they help us experience what filling the need feels like.

 We can examine this sample denial first. Let’s say that there is a particularly difficult coworker I am dealing with. After journaling about the recurring problems, I discover that the real issue that is disturbing my peace in interacting with this person is his apparent need to one- up me in every meeting. But the deeper realization is that this goes back to one of my trigger issues from when I was growing up of feeling “less than”. It is a core issue for me.

 I create a denial that says “No attempt to reduce my worth is effective.”

In the next post, we will explore Part II of this skill that rebuilds self-worth and confidence.

Three Free Ways to Connect with Calm

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Calmness has been linked to improved decision making, heart benefits, and more enjoyable relationships. But how to tap into it?

Here are three free ways to connect with a calming moment.

Slow Down

We don’t yet know all the effects of being in motion so much of the time, but the fast rate of the motion is being studied. Psychology Today reported on numerous mental and health benefits of slowing down. Processing fast moving images has been shown to alter brain behavior in children. Dimitri A Christakis reported on 30 studies in an October 2011 issue of Pediatrics showing executive functioning and other impairments or alerations.

So how to access this benefit? Moving fast can become automatic. We rush when it is not necessary but is simply a carryover from having rushed in the previous activity. Being aware of unnecessary rushing is the first step. Pausing to consciously shift between activities allows us to decide whether we still need to rush.

We can also modify our self-talk about the pressure or need to rush. Before answering machines, many felt panic if they did not get to the phone ring on time. Some people still let out an expletive if they pick up the phone too late. Rarely is this a crisis but our autonomous nervous system may still react as if it is an emergency. Instead, take steps to arrange other ways to handling incoming pressures to carve out a space to shift pace.

Imagine rushing to catch a bus. Once you are on board, you can sit down and relax. It would not make sense to still rush up and down the bus aisle after boarding. Just as senseless is our maintaining a breakneck pace for every task in front of us. Make conscious decisions about your pace.

Sharing

The pressure of keeping disturbances bottled up inside works against a state of calm. Sharing can be as simple as keeping a journal or attending a support group. Sarah Townsend, assistant professor at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, reported in Social Psychology and Personality Science (December 2013) that taking with someone we perceive to  have the same feelings reduces stress.

We all need to release self-imposed impossible expectations. Self-talk plays a role in accessing calm here as well. Reject the assumption that you are so unique that no one has been challenged like you are or has never met this problem. That gives permission to share it with someone else who is trustworthy and understanding.

 Even making a voice memo gets your frustration out of your body and allows your brain to restore serotonin and dopamine levels. Your brain does not know whether you are talking to a real person or not.

Silence

Perhaps the least favorite or most overlooked way to calm down, silence is the easiest to achieve. Pricey noise-cancelling headphones are not required. Simply walk away from time to time from an intensively noisy environment to a quiet one.  

What happens most often is that we are unaware of the stress buildup from noise. Omnipresent music and broadcasts in the background have become a wallpaper of sound around us. The impact is still entering our mind and bodies.

Hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects have been linked to noise pollution, enough to make it part of the Clean Air Act.

Besides the washroom, sometimes simply shutting the door if we have an office or walking to another quieter room can do the trick. Pause, breathe and return when you feel a greater sense of calm within.

Christian Science Reading Rooms join libraries in a testimony to the need for quiet. Take lunches in a quiet place. Decide to delay turning on news or music when you get home to enjoy quiet. If you are not the first to get home, avoid having news or music automatically on in your car.

It will be surprising how many places we can remove noise from around us once we become aware of its intrusiveness. The growing popularity of meditation aides attests to an increasing appreciation of stilling the chattering mind that results from an environment overloaded with sensory pressures.

Slowing down, sharing, and silence can give us immediate access to calm. Share a comment on your favorite free way to increase calm in your day.

Four Factors of Stress Management

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Americans’ levels of stress are among the highest in the world. Our national ethic of incessant striving with no measureable way to say, “I’m at the peak”, strains our bodies, hearts and minds. Our media reinforces constant dissatisfaction, a necessity in a consumer based economy. While there are worlds written about it, here are the four major ways that I have gleaned from most of the material out there over the years I have been reading about it. Feel free to let me know if any of this has worked for you or enlighten us on other ways you’ve come down from being stuck on a red alert button.

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