While I was in rehab for my sex & love addiction/anorexia, I was forced to say affirmations. The way it would work is that we would go around the room taking turns. When came to me, I would have to say three positive things about myself out loud (even if I didn’t really believe they were true yet) . After I made each statement, the whole room would repeat it back to me. So, for instance, if I said, “I am worthy of respect,” the whole room would enthusiastically say, “You are worthy of respect!”
Let me tell you, that was a really difficult practice, especially in the beginning. How could I say anything positive or hopeful about myself, while I was wallowing in the very lowest place I’d ever been in my life? And then, how could I assimilate hearing it echoed back to me in so many voices? It didn’t compute. I felt like a liar, a fraud, and just plain conspicuous.
In many ways, it had become easier to focus on the negative aspects of my life and about myself as a person. Sure, if I was trying to impress or attract someone, I’d try to make myself look good, but that was all smoke and mirrors. This affirmation stuff was blatant. It was intended to plant seeds of actual belief in myself, as well as others.
As my time there went on, speaking affirmations got easier, but never easy. It felt less like “pop psychology” (or torture) and took on more meaning. Those little seeds were sending out tender little roots. In the midst of facing my biggest dragons, the possibility of feeling actual self-worth glimmered above me like sunshine peeking through the soil.
When I got home, I worked some of the things I’d learned in rehab into my daily life. Coming home was difficult for so many reasons, but one of the greatest was that I had to squarely face the damage I had done to my marriage. It was scary, but I asked my husband if he would be willing to go through some of my new regular exercises together. He agreed to try. So, twice a day, stating and repeating back affirmations to each other became a part of our routine.
As encouraging as it was to have my healing community repeat my affirmations back to me, it was nothing compared to having my husband- the man who I had hurt so deeply- look me in the eyes and say, “You are worthy of respect. You are strong and capable. You are deeply loved.” I was humbled, flattened, lifted up, overjoyed.
If you happen to be blessed with a trusting or healing partnership, I want to encourage you to try this at home. If you don’t have that kind of relationship right now, please consider partnering with a trusted friend or “recovery pal” to trade affirmations with.
I know. It feels a little threatening, right? It’s okay to be scared. Asking for help, doing something for yourself, speaking positives into a life that perhaps feels like it’s in ruins right now- these are counterintuitive for the “addict who still suffers.”
So, let me be your partner, just for today. I can’t hear you, so please let me speak first, and then you repeat the statements back to yourself. Say, “I am…” Say it out loud. You can do it! Here we go.
You have true worth.
God delights in you.
You are worthy of respect.
You are on the road to recovery.
It’s all true! Have a beautiful day, my friends.