Breaking news: Affirmations aren’t just for hippies and dreamers. Even though I’m kinda a hippie and definitely a dreamer. Here’s the story behind why I made an affirmation card deck.
I’ve always struggled with self-confidence. I somehow can simultaneously feel like I’m a genius that can solve literally any problem and at the same time feel like a complete fraud.
I halfway believe that the universe or God or whatever did this to creative people on purpose. You get this amazing gift, but to earn that gift you have to wrestle with your own crippling self-doubt. Meanwhile, people that aren’t exceptionally talented, but have incredible confidence make tons of money. I mean, money is good so I can’t knock their hustle.
But I’ve seen over and over again that the most magnificent talents were given to incredible people that hide themselves and their art.
So for me, the story starts at my first big job in advertising.
I was a couple of years into my career and newly working at the biggest agency in New Orleans at the time. And to be honest, I felt like a total fraud.
Like yes, I’m a pretty good designer. I’m naturally empathetic. And I can learn really quickly.
But I was far from the best at the company.
In fact, I was far from the best on my team.
And so I was constantly stuck in my head about everything – literally waiting for my Creative Director to realize that I’m not good enough to be working on these massive clients.
So one morning before work, I’m googling ways to increase my self-confidence. And I read some stuff about power poses, and getting additional education, but one thing genuinely resonated with me.
I tap over to this terrible-looking website.
Like this really ugly green and has pastel flowers everywhere
And they’re using papyrus – that weird hand-crafted font that’s strangely popular on poorly designed wellness websites or like it could be used in some really bad action movie in the 90s where you’re trying to find a hidden treasure in an ancient egyptian tomb.
Despite the poor aesthetics, the content on the page connected with my heart.
It was woo-woo, to say the least.
And I don’t like to consider myself a woo-woo person. But to be honest, I am.
It’s all about how to manifest your desires through positive affirmations.
Basically, it said that in order to conquer my self-doubt and move beyond negative self-talk, I needed to reprogram my brain.
In case you’re unfamiliar. Some of us, have a tape running in our subconscious nonstop. And for people like me, that voice is judgy – exceptionally judgmental. And this is confusing to say the least, because I’m generally an optimistic person… like at my core.
But surrounding my core identity there’s this general anxiety that everything can fall apart at any time. This deep and dark permeating feeling focuses only on the bad things instead of celebrating all the good that life has to offer.
So externally, I’m sitting at my computer and working on a tourism campaign for Louisiana.
But internally there are literal voices: well not literal voices. Just bummer thoughts that are telling me:
That design really isn’t that good.
I’m not smart enough.
Nobody likes anything I make anyway.
I really should give up and pursue a noncreative role. I’ll make more money anyway.
Whew. Negative self-talk will have you second-guessing – dang, it’ll have you quadruple-guessing your own self-worth, your talent, and your purspose.
But this random terribly designed website has the not-so-easy secret on how to combat negative self-talk?
I mean you probably already guessed (laugh)
And it’s really straightforward.
Our thoughts create our reality, and if we continuously repeat positive affirmations to ourselves, we can reprogram our subconscious mind to believe in our limitless potential.
I feel like that’s the key right there. You move from feeling limited to feeling limitless.
Negative self-talk tells us that there are constraints to what we can do and who we can become.
But positive affirmations are crucial for manifesting our dreams and desires into reality.
Shifting our focus from what we lack to what we want, and in turn, attracting better outcomes.
Now that’s woo woo and I probably lost like 7 bros listening that are like, “you’re telling me thinking happy thoughts will change my life for the better”
And I promise you I’m really not that woo woo, even though secretly I can be pretty woo woo. I do pull tarot cards every morning, burn palo santo every week, and write in a gratitude journal.
But that’s the thing, the power of the mind is no joke. The more you repeat positive affirmations to yourself, the more you will begin to believe them, and that belief is what creates the action.
Look at the most successful people in the world, they didn’t get to where they are by accident. They had a vision, they believed in themselves, and they took action to make their dreams a reality.
It’s the pro baller envisioning himself catching the sports ball and winning the big game.
I don’t know anything about sports.
Why did I use that analogy?
It’s the public speaker that visualizes the crowd giving them a standing ovation at the end of their speech.
I almost said the public speaker imagined the audience naked so they don’t feel embarrassed if they stumble over a few words in their presentation. But then I was like it would be weird to have a group of people naked giving you a standing ovation
What is happening?
So this is the affirmation that worked for me.
I deserve to take up space.
I deserve to take up space.
I deserve to take up space.
And this is a meaningful one for a number of reasons.
My voice matters.
My insights are meaningful.
And my perspective – while different from most of the people I’ve worked with is incredibly valuable…
Because I have a lens through which I see the world that is so profoundly different.
And that means I need to speak up.
I need to be a good listener, but I also need to stop hiding and be willing to share my voice as frequently as possible.
Whew! High key, I feel like I’m preaching to myself right now because this lesson keeps coming back around. I’m going through another meaningful life change as I explore what it means to launch new products and courses.
But back to the story.
So I found an affirmation: I deserve to take up space.
And for months I repeated it over and over and over again.
While I brushed my teeth.
While I was riding the streetcar to work.
While I was making edits for the thirty-second time on a newspaper ad for a local bank.
And I don’t want to give you false hope.
It wasn’t like a said the affirmation 6 times and suddenly I was the most confident person in the room.
But the repetition of weeks and months increased my confidence.
It was slow at first.
But I started to show more of my personality.
I would joke around with my coworkers.
I found my work wife. Shout out to you Stephanie.
And most importantly I stopped looking at my bosses like they were demigods. And instead saw them for what they were. Human beings that were in a position to help me become better at my craft.
I also started to speak up to defend my work.
Sometimes people say “no” to things they don’t understand.
I started to realize that I’m a thoughtful person that doesn’t just do design because i like making things pretty.
I make design that is influenced by our collective art history, industry research, and thoughtful analysis. Ya boy has layers.
And if they don’t see that right off the bat, I can have my receipts ready so I can clearly explain my rationale..
Then I learned how to separate the critique of my design work from my personal identity.
Some things people loved
And other things they didn’t think they worked.
But that critique of the work has nothing to do with me as a fully realized human being.
That’s one thing I made. One of many hundreds of thousands of ideas I will have over the course of my lifetime.
Not everything I do is going to be a winner, and that’s okay. Because I can always come up with new ideas.
And finally, I accepted that setbacks wouldn’t stop my progress.
I’m good at this and I’m confident in my ability. Some days will be stellar and everything I make will be received with a standing ovation from imaginary naked people.
But other days I will just have to be okay with the fact that I’m a beautifully imperfect human being that’s pretty freaking awesome.
Now if i were to wrap this story up in a nice pretty bow.
After 8 months of working at this agency and 6 months of doing positive affirmations, my design work was chosen for a rebrand of new orleans tourism. And I got to be on set for a commercial for an idea I conceptualized. It was incredible.
I don’t say this lightly.
Affirmations changed my life. It increased my confidence. It helped me to deal with my negative self-talk. And it prepared me to deal with the daily challenges of being a creative human being that wants to make an impact in this strange world.
So if you’re interested in getting into affirmations yourself, I’ve got a little gift for you. A cute little freebie. Visit socurious.co/affirmations to download the 10 affirmations that changed my mindset to get you started on retraining your brain to focus on the good.