If you look at your life as a journey, and not just the drive to reach a destination, it’s a bit easier to handle those inevitable setbacks that occur, from time to time, in your quest to be a better human being. When it comes to changing our behavior, it is the rare person who gets it right the first time – or the second time… or the third time…
If you are a regular receiver of the Winner’s Circle, you know we talk quite a bit about affirmations because they are a purposeful way to help people change for the better. (Now, affirmations are just positive, emotionally charged, present-tense statements describing a desired end-result in the future. Nothing earthshaking, just a way to talk yourself toward a desired end result.) For example, an affirmation you could make if you want to be a more loving person is, “I truly enjoy treating all people with respect and courtesy in every possible circumstance.”
So, what happens, then, when you are driving to work and another driver cuts you off, glaring at you as if you had no right to be on the road in the first place? In the past, you have responded by making a very disrespectful gesture, calling out an extremely discourteous name – and then feeling terribly guilty. Do you give up in disgust and say, “Well, obviously, affirmations don’t work, so why bother?”
Not at all! You see, before you made your affirmation, you probably would not have even noticed your disrespectful behavior as being anything unusual. Because of your affirmation – your promise to yourself – you were instantly and uncomfortably aware that this isn’t how you want to behave. You say to yourself, “That’s the old me talking. The next time, I intend to respond courteously, no matter how much I am provoked!”
You keep affirming it and visualizing it – day after day and time after time – until the new behavior becomes second nature, and you no longer remember being any other way. In fact, you no longer have to remind yourself to act better. The new behavior has become your new normal, and the old way just doesn’t fit you anymore.