Affirmations can be very healing. What we say, think about, and believe in, we manifest in our lives. When working with them, we need to become aware of our cognitive distortions, which are the negative beliefs we hold, that were learned from early on. Since they were defensive in nature, they do not easily go away. They can cause depression that remains as long as you believe in them. Negative affirmations may include “should” and “ought to”, catastrophizing and disqualifying the positive, and reflect what you believe is reality. If you believe these negative admonitions always are and always will be, you will create that experience. It is a difficult task that takes dedication and work to change your mind.
In Star, we create experiences to empower you to be able to change these encrusted old negative beliefs. They may have seemed true long ago, but the past is no longer here. Holding onto old negative beliefs is like the fog that comes over San Francisco, it is cold and dreary and clouds our vision like depression does. Affirmations bring some light and can dissolve the fog in your mind so you can finally and most importantly see your true self clearly and with love.
Our Star 2017 retreats are filling up quickly!
2018 Winter STAR Retreat
January 19, 2018 to January 28, 2018
2018 Spring STAR Retreat
April 13, 2018 to April 22, 2018
2018 Summer STAR Retreat
July 20, 2018 to July 29, 2018
2018 Fall STAR Retreat
October 19, 2018 to October 28, 2018
The topic of affirmations is one I have used in my own healing for the past 30 years. I began using them when I realized that I constantly beat up on myself in my own mind. My “Inner Critic” was having a field day, telling me how dumb I was, too fat, not pretty enough, not good enough, on and on, ad nauseum.
I decided I really needed to change the messages I was giving myself in order to become the person I was meant to be. I had read some books on affirmations and I wrote down a huge list of them and made a cassette tape (remember those?) of my own voice reading the affirmations to myself. I began to listen to this tape in my car driving and before I went to sleep at night. It took a while, but I began to really believe the affirmative messages. It really changed the way I felt about myself.
I also began to do mirror work, which is looking in a mirror in your own eyes and giving yourself positive affirmations. At first this was very hard and I cried the first few times I looked In my own eyes and said, “I love you.” I knew that I really did not love myself the way I deserved. But, gradually, over time, I began to really feel my own love and believe that I deserved love at a very deep level.
STAR Clinical Director
By STAR participant Audrey Klatkiewicz
I walked a lonely stretch of road,
Awash with tears that silently fell.
Ever searching for some meaning;
Why the emptiness, I could not tell.
A driven life of endless toil
That never quite met the mark,
Shame and failure found a home
In the deepening void of dark.
I did as I had long been told;
Where did I go so wrong?
Why can I not find happiness
And make my life a joyful song?
The pain and price of truth
Finally opened my eyes to see,
That the search would never end
Until I paid insight’s fee.
So began the sobering search
Of ways that I could do this,
And maybe then, like other folks
Find peace, joy and quiet bliss.
Voices in my head and heart
Told me the answer I would find,
Only when I knew I had worth
And treated Me in ways that were kind.
Letting go of perfectionism’s demands
And just letting myself “be”,
Accepting who I really am,
Ultimately would set me free.
I’ve never thought positive affirmations worked for me; maybe for other people but not for me. So as I was writing this article I was continually surprised by how many affirmations I actually do use throughout my day.
I’ve always thought saying or thinking positive affirmations to myself wasn’t very helpful. I’ve known I’ve needed to come towards my life experiences through my feelings, not through my intellect or words. My feelings are where I get space inside, peace, and feel grounded. But now that I’m thinking about it, there are some things I say to myself, and quite often. “It’s okay to feel whatever I feel. It’s okay to feel—period.” Another is, “it’s okay to make mistakes—it’s how I learn and it’s part of life.” And sometimes I think, “I will take care of and keep safe the vulnerable part of myself,”—what some call the little kid part of oneself and others call it the heart. So I guess I do use positive affirmations.
I think what is more true for me is if I have no connection to the positive affirmation, if it has no personal meaning to me, then it does not help. But the more personal experience I have connected to it, the more it means to me. So if I think, “we are all love and light,” it doesn’t do much for me. But if I think, “I see the heart or little kid in that person,” it does have meaning for me.
As I write this, I am aware of more and more positive affirmations that I use. One is, “I don’t have to be anything I’m not.” Another is, “it’s okay to show up, be here.” And another is, “it is okay to do it wrong or ugly, as long as I take care of the little guy and keep him safe.” In some ways, sometimes, it can be like I am the wise, loving adult part of myself talking to the wounded kid part of myself.
Here are a few more that I use:
“Thoughts are just thoughts.”
“No one has walked in anyone else’s shoes.” Meaning we are all different and I don’t know anyone else like I know myself, and vice versa. I don’t know anyone else’s truth unless they tell me. And they don’t know mine. And if I want to know, I need to listen.
“When I or others do negative things or act negatively, it’s because we are hurting”—even if we are unconscious of the hurt that drives the negativity.
“People either live in and from a paradigm of love or a paradigm of more or less fear.” That simplifies things a lot.
“It’s okay if I’m not connected to my heart/soul.. There is a reason—usually rooted in fear and/or pain, even if I don’t know what it is.”
“I can’t control the moment, so just go with it.”
“We’re all the walking wounded. We’re all doing the best we can.”
“If I’m not present, connected to my core self, what’s the point?” Without that, without some kind of connection to my heart, life is pretty empty.
I could probably go on. I realize some of these affirmations may not sound like affirmations, but they work for me (usually). Whether they are cliches or my own, they mean something to me. They give me room to breathe, to be. They help the scared part of me (from when I was a kid) feel safer.
For somebody who doesn’t use or like affirmations, I seem to have a lot of them. What works for you?
Kenny Ball, STAR Facilitator
Statistics show that 14.2% of the U.S. population is currently experiencing psychological crisis. Jane found her way to STAR in 2016.
“I still can’t believe that I am well!, Jane writes. “I was so sick that I wasn’t going to make it. It just wasn’t worth the fight anymore. I had given up and was on my way out, always thinking of the best way to go, that would be the easiest on my kids. I just wasn’t good for them and didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Making the difficult decision to go to STAR was a last ditch effort that I told myself I would give 110% effort to get all that I could from the retreat. I really didn’t think anything would help me. People need to know that My journey at STAR truly saved my life. I got ME back, my kids and husband got ME back! I am so happy. Now I want to live more than anything.”
This is one of the many testimonials the STAR staff receives after a STAR retreat. These experiences validate our work. It is truly gratifying to share in each unique journey to recovery. Due to the lack of resources, there are only a few scholarships available at each retreat. The typical scholarship requested is from $800 – $1500. With donations like yours, we can serve larger numbers of people in crisis so that they may experience the transformation and healing they need.
We hope that you will continue to donate and to refer your family, friends or clients to STAR to experience the healing and hope for their lives as so many of you have. We want as many as possible to experience STAR firsthand as we continue the work that Barbara has created.
A heart felt thank you for your continued support of STAR!
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Photos copyright and courtesy Susannah Castro. Authors of written submissions retain full copyright.