From my earliest days I was compared to my mother, so you can imagine the horror that coursed through my every cell as the words fell off her lips telling me she had breast cancer. Whatever story I was telling myself at the time quickly tainted and changed to: When am I going to get it?
As a child, I watched my mom put herself through school. We both held our breath as the mailman delivered report cards and we jumped for joy when we saw all the passing grades. I attended her college graduation and later we did it all over again when she continued on for her Masters. Fast forward twenty years and my kids watched me do the same. They attended my college graduation and we had a dance party every time my grades arrived from my graduate courses.
Even younger, I faced random, unexplainable reactions to some mysterious something that kept me from eating shellfish and horseradish all the days of my adult life; even though tests had shows I was not allergic. Same with mom. She was stricken with very random allergic reactions to things we could only surmise were the cause. We look alike, our professional lives parallel, when I’m thinking of her the phone rings and she’s on the other end, and we both have a deep-rooted affinity for the Emerald Isle (no wonder, she was born there). We have a strong connection.
When Mom shared her news, it was very matter of fact. There was a plan in place, it would be followed, and her diagnosis would one day be a memory. “I’ll have six chemo treatments and we’ll take them one at a time until I have my surgery”. She spoke and I listened. I was as calm and as certain about her positive outcome as she was, but I cannot deny the story that began to immediately embed itself into my internal dialogue; first very consciously, then later and more dangerously, subconsciously.
At the time I was not aware of the astounding power of words. I was not mindful enough to realize the damage my unhealthy self-talk did to my psyche and how it affected me down to my cellular level.
It wasn’t until years later when I began to teach a graduate course for The College of New Jersey: Stress and the Teaching and Learning Process, that I really understood the science behind how our thoughts manifest what is presented to us in our lives. As medical doctor and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Choprah tells us, “All the interpretation you make in your life about what is happening to you structures the biological responses down to your cellular level. When you think ‘I am happy’, every cell in your body learns happiness and joins in”.
When you know better, you do better. Thank you Maya Angelou, you were so right! I now have lots of fun with affirmations. They change as my needs change. I write them on tri-folded pieces of paper and prop them up all around my home where they act as constant reminders to stay strong and be positive. I write them on post-it notes and stick them on my desk at work and they act a little reminders helping to calm and focus me in the middle of what can be crazed and continually interrupted days.Conscious living is very much a practice.
Sadly, 75% of what the average person tells him or herself is negative. Many people in our lives have scripted our self-talk, but the good news is we can rescript it. By selecting and feeding our minds positive affirmations the programming in our minds will change.
Your words can be a potent contributor to illness. So pay close attention. What story are you telling yourself? Take a moment today to think about your story. Is it working for you? Dispute it if it is not serving you, and work to change it into a more positive, healthier internal dialogue. Life gets better when your story gets better. Have fun writing your happily ever after today.