Imagine for a moment that you live in a tough neighbourhood.
A really tough neighbourhood.
Where the weak are devoured by the strong and where evil triumphs over good.
Where the law of the jungle dictates that only the roughest, toughest survive.
And your neighbourhood is under the control of a ruthless street gang.
Whose only objective is to conquer and control.
Now imagine that neighbourhood is your brain.
And your brain has been taken over by that very same street gang.
And for years that gang has had complete and unfettered control of your mind.
It determines who and what comes in and goes out.
It controls every thought.
And every feeling.
And one day you decide to take back your streets.
To massively change yourself.
And you embark on a new course of action.
One designed to radically alter your thinking, to banish every negative, self-critical, doubting thought from your mind.
And you begin this process by starting to tell yourself good things about yourself.
Things like, “I love myself unconditionally” and “I can…”
And a host of powerful, empowering and flattering statements.
Now this gang has never heard such drivel before.
It is used to controlling the messages in your mind. You know the ones, “I’m not good enough,” or “I’ll never amount to anything,” or “I am not deserving,” or “I can’t….”
So what would any self-respecting street gang do?
They will fight back.
They will assail you with a barrage of critical thoughts and feelings.
They will tell you that doing this is a waste of time.
It won’t work.
You truly are unworthy.
Street gangs don’t fight fair, they fight dirty.
And they fight hard.
They will keep repeating these messages.
Attempting to wear you down.
Waiting for you to quit this exercise in futility.
So what are you to do?
Well, you can surrender.
Go back to your life as it was before you started this nonsense.
Where the gang controlled your every thought and kept reminding you of your inferiority.
Or you can fight back.
With determination and resolve.
And take them out.
There is no other option.
It’s them or us.
And for us to incorporate any massive change in a permanent and sustainable fashion we must overcome and conquer this miserable gang that for many years, has resided inside so many of us.
Street gangs are no different than school-yard bullies.
Like most bullies they will turn and flee when they realize you will stand up to them and not back down.
Sure they’ve had years to build what they believe to be an impenetrable fortress of doubt and self-criticism inside our heads, but it is time for them to learn no such fortress exists.
We must fight that gang and the only way to do so is to take back our neighbourhood one street at a time.
To win the battle through a series of small, yet decisive victories.
And each time we resist the urge to not do the very things we need to do to bring about the change we desire we have enjoyed a victory that brings us closer to winning the entire battle.
I know for some the metaphor of a street gang residing in our minds will be viewed with cynicism and criticism until we realize similarities between the damage done by gangs in the real streets and the damage we’ve done to ourselves through negative self-talk.
That critical voice in our heads – the voice of the gang – was indeed the fabric from which the gang was spun and I know of no way other than the repeated use of powerful, empowering, lifting, inspiring affirmations, said repeatedly with passion and conviction, to defeat that gang of soul destroyers.
Each time we tell ourselves we love ourselves unconditionally we are reminding ourselves that we accept without reservation all who we are.
And while this is not condoning the things we have done that we shouldn’t have done, it is chasing out and vanquishing the sense of weakness, shame, guilt, and – most crushing of all – doubt, that some of us have acquired over the course of our lives.
There are those who say affirmations don’t work. I believe they’re wrong. I believe every single one of us uses affirmations throughout each day but sadly, all too often, those affirmations reaffirm the same criticism we have basted ourselves with for many years.
I laughed when a client recently told me, with a smile, that “I’ve been telling myself over and over for year after year that affirmations don’t work.”
If you believe that it is time to rid yourself of that gang then try this for one week and let me know what happens.
Take at least one 5 minute block of time each day stand in front of the mirror and just laugh.
And laugh and laugh.
And throughout each day take two or three additional 5 minute blocks of time and use them to tell yourself over and over again how much and how unconditionally you love yourself, how wonderful and amazing you are, and how more and more perfect your life is becoming each and every day.
Tell yourself happiness and joy are choices and you choose them both.
Of course we need a baseline to develop comparison so at the end of one week compare how you feel to how you had been feeling prior to this week-long exercise.
I will be shocked if you report back to say that having done all that is suggested above you do not feel noticeably different that before you started.
And by feeling great you will have scored a decisive victory over that miserable gang.
Go ahead, try it.
After all, what’s one week out of your whole life?
Till we read again.