Why Self-Affirmation Is A Gift.
I was working with a client recently and I casually said something that was self-affirming. His reaction made me pause and ask about his own practice of self-affirmation. And further, to share a couple examples of significant, affirming feedback he had received over the course of his life. I inquired about the method and the frequency with which he had received affirmation.
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He proceeded to talk about the formal and informal processes, including the contributions of his wife as a source of feedback and affirmation. This prompted me to ask about his involvement in the process. He responded immediately by asking me to clarify my question. I explained that I was curious about the ways in which he affirmed himself.
As it turned out, he like many of us, did not affirm himself on a regular basis. And in failing to do so, he was missing a golden opportunity to bolster his confidence and lift his spirit. For many, self-affirmation is the only consistent affirmation that is received. And while that is unfortunate, it provides a compelling reason for us to all engage in the practice of regular self-affirmation. We must all be our best cheerleaders and advocates. When we develop this habit, we give ourselves a great gift that elevates our attitudes and performance.
I shared the highly beneficial practice of winding down the day by examining the questions of what went well and why. It's a practice that promotes self-awareness and positivity, much more advantageous than ending the day reflecting on what went wrong. I encouraged him to close out his day by identifying what he accomplished relative to what he’d intended. And then appreciate the accomplishments so that he could feel good and convinced of his attributes and abilities.
Then I said with a little jest and a great deal of encouragement, “In doing so, you're able to say like I have said to myself ‘I'm awesome! And also, modest.’”
All joking aside, a few years ago I blurted out some particularly keen insight while talking to a group of people. Recognizing the enormity of the idea, I exclaimed, “Renwick, that's absolutely phenomenal. That's brilliant, outstanding. Keep it going. You're awesome!”
And they looked at me, stunned. I could see from their facial expressions that they were flabbergasted at my apparent conceit. Recognizing that it was an unusual experience for them, I said, “I can see you are startled at my self-confidence.” They responded with multiple variations of what was essentially, "Yes, that’s an understatement."
And I gently shared with them that if I were to wait for others to affirm me, to compliment my intelligence, to affirm my moments of brilliance, or to acknowledge my capacity to transform lives, I may have missed out on living up to my potential. If I had simply waited for others to affirm me, I would be far removed from where I am today. If I had relied solely on others for affirmation, I can’t imagine where I would be today. I would suspect not anywhere close to where I now stand.
The lesson here is that we can choose to wait to be affirmed, or we can take responsibility for affirming ourselves. I chose the latter. Will you?
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