by Rebecca Crichton, Seattle, WA
Many years ago, a therapist I was seeing suggested writing some affirmations that might help me feel better about myself. My inner dialogue wasn’t always kind or supportive, and she helped me craft several positive statements I could say before finally turning out the light each night. I wrote them down and read each one 3 times before sleeping. I kept thinking I would remember them. After all, they were simple and positive. But it took me months to overcome the negative tapes in my head. I called the whole process ‘mental hygiene,’ and eventually was able to remember them nightly. Over time, they were part of a cluster of changes that helped me feel better about myself.
Now, cooped up in my apartment, I am discovering again how important it is to pay attention to what I am telling myself.
I know that my thinking affects my health. Negative feelings cause powerful chemical reactions which, in turn, have negative effects on my immune system.
I can feel the anger, anxiety and panic when I watch too much news or hear He-who-shall-not-be-named say yet one more truly unbelievable thing. I can feel myself start to hyperventilate when I talk with friends about some of the stupidity and bad behavior that seems to be everywhere.
And then I hear about my friend’s neighborhood’s 8:00 PM sing-along or see the image of another friend kissing her grandkids through the window after dropping off chocolate chip cookies. Now that Zoom has entered my life, I can start having ‘dates’ for everything from morning coffee to late-night summaries of favorite shows.
“Don’t believe everything you think,” I remind myself when I start to scare myself. “Remember the reliable comfort of blooming flowers, connections with people I love, silly stories and funny memes.” I laugh when I allow clichés to comfort me: “This, too shall pass. Tomorrow is another day!”