I love the power of affirmation. Regardless of whether a person is doing the ‘right’ thing or not, it is possible to affirm them without agreeing with their actions.
In a world beset with uncertainty and insecurity, affirmation transforms the day, the week, the month… a lifetime. Without a shadow of doubt, I need it, and when we’re facing uncertainties or are under pressure, most of us do. The readiness to affirm others is a mark of leadership and very motivating.
Affirmation is powerful. It draws us onward and upward. It helps us make decisions, makes us feel safe. It reassures, calms, and re-centres our thinking. And it is independent of age. Both the older and younger generations on either side of us can do with some.
And you do not even need to know a person to provide affirmation. Here is some for you. Ready?
The truth is, regardless of the things you’ve done wrong or badly, there are so many things you’ve done right – and incidentally ‘right’ doesn’t mean perfect. It is easy to lose sight of those ‘right’ things, but in the quieter moments of your life you KNOW it is true.
Yet the good thing about you as a human being goes beyond what you do or don’t do, and how well you’ve done it. The good thing about you is that you are actually here on this earth. Your presence here matters. The choices you make matter too, and both of us know that, deep inside, you want those choices to be the best. Of course most of us can look back and see choices that were not that brilliant, but that isn’t the point. You wanted them to be, and that longing deserves to be honoured and affirmed. That way you’ll learn from the past and build a better future – as we both know you want to.
Interestingly, even when you’ve behaved badly – perhaps wanting revenge, struggling with bad thoughts when people have mistreated you or have not understood your intentions – even those things were an attempt (however inadequate or misguided) to protect yourself from damage, redress injustice, and restore a better balance of power. Good motives.
And while we are on the subject, a quick final word. Affirmation isn’t ‘psyching yourself up’ or conning yourself. Affirmation takes a fuller look at what exists in your life that is good and admirable, and focuses on those good and praiseworthy things.
Gladys Aylwood was born in the early years of the 20th Century and went out to China to spend her life looking after needy children. She rescued hundreds from the ravages of the Second World War, including walking the children across the mountains to freedom as they fled the Japanese invasion of their town (Sound of Music eat your heart out!) Gladys worked with long-term prisoners too, violent men who could easily have injured the ‘Small Woman’ as she was known because of her diminutive stature, and she was once called to the prison to quell an out of control riot! The prison governor said of her “If there are 99 bad things about a prisoner and one good thing, Gladys will find it.” The prisoners knew that too. She was on the hunt for things to affirm.
And found them.