Weeding Out Negative Affirmation

Negative affirmations are most known as a form of negative self-talk.  “I can’t do this.  I’m ugly.  No one likes me.”  Seeking inner peace through positive affirmations to quiet this voice is a powerful anecdote.  How many likes can I get on FaceBook is a popular instant gratification for this.  Or developing your own mantra to repeat on a daily basis to bring your strength.  However, there are outside forces of negative affirmation from others you may not be aware are happening.  Like weeds in a garden, they choke the life from the healthy plants.

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Has anyone ever told you something negative about yourself which may or may not be true?  Have you heard any of the following frequently from a loved one?

  1. You are so insecure
  2. You lack confidence
  3. You will never get in shape
  4. You can’t do ______
  5. You are selfish
  6. You are arrogant
  7. You are narcissistic
  8. You are too sensitive
  9. You lack humor
  10. Hey, you’re an asshole

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When repeated enough times from a loved one, this becomes a negative affirmation in the receivers mind.  Some will argue to acknowledge the problem is the first step to recovery.  We aren’t talking about Alcoholics Anonymous.  What if you acknowledged it years ago and the loved one is still throwing the negative at you in what feels like verbal warfare?  If you keep hearing the same negative comments enough times, you may start to believe it and allow yourself to become it.  The impact is greater if the person sending the message is a close loved one because there are two affirmations happening.  One in the senders mind, and the other is in the receivers mind.

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Let’s say you seek guidance from a loved one about something at work, school, or life.  If this problem is large and complex in nature, you may seek their input repeatedly as the situation develops.  Everyone needs a good sounding board.  This doesn’t make you weak.  It makes you wise to seek other perspectives.  But what happens if the trusted adviser in your life constantly tells you how insecure you sound every time you bring up these issues?  Now, some people won’t stand for it, and nothing bothers them.  But many people have deep feelings and trust in their loved one, so these negative words attach, slowly sink in, and begin to fester.

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There are several writings out there suggesting this is a form of verbal abuse, but I’m not claiming to be an expert on psychology; only an insightful human sharing my perspective through experiences and observations.  In many instances, the person giving the negative affirmation is unaware they are doing anything wrong.  They honestly feel what they are telling you is helpful and you should face it head on.  This method works for some people.  Sure.  Suck it up buttercup!  Be a man or put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

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When you embody positive affirmation, you train the mind to become positive and increase self-esteem.  So, why would we repeatedly beat someone over the head with a negative?  If you want a happy mind, insert happy thoughts.  If you think you might be guilty of negative affirmation toward another, try the following and please feel free to comment with more suggestions.

  1. Limit how many times you state what said problem may be. Low self-esteem?  Say it once or twice.  Negatives embed themselves into someone’s mind more than any positive.  Repeating it is unnecessary.  You need to build up, not break down.
  1. A little coaching goes a long way.  Ask questions that will allow the person to self-affirm their own worth. Ask questions about their experience and knowledge to make them remember their value.  Or remind them of a time they were able to accomplish something bigger than their current issue.  And if someone really isn’t a great musician or acrobat, suggest lessons to help them improve instead of putting them down.
  1. Listen and repeat a summary of their issue back to them. Sometimes this is all they need to figure out things on their own.
  1. Throw in some positives. Positives may not stick in their minds as easily as negatives, but over time they build up and fortify those gears in our minds.

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I excluded an exception.  There are times when people are actual jerks and should be told so continually until they change their behavior.  I am not condoning that you dismiss such behaviors.  In these cases, maybe you should just get rid of the jerk and call it a day.

However, if this is a loved one you can never part from, then try to rid your relationship of the negative affirmations and see how you grow once the weeds are gone.  Remember, words have power.  Use them wisely.

-Wen Di

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