When my father was dying of cancer, I asked him for permission to work in the garden he and I had created. We had a huge pile of mulch waiting to be spread and he and I didn’t have the time to do it together. I was sitting by his bedside, holding his hand. He pressed on my hand and put his thumbnail under mine to get my attention. Our eyes met and he told me, “Joanneo you can do whatever you want”.
I knew he wasn’t just talking about spreading mulch in the garden. He was talking about my life. He was giving me permission, actually challenging me, to be whoever I could be. He was telling me he believed I could do more.
He died the next week and that phrase echoed in my mind so loudly it hurt. That tiny affirmation changed the course of my life. Every time I felt a certain uneasiness and desire to do something, before I could change my mind, I felt my dad’s fingernail under mine and heard those words, “you can do whatever you want”.
In the next few years I put those 6 common words to the test. I left my partner of 13 dysfunctional years. I received a certification to teach yoga the day before I was operated on for my own cancer. After surviving, I moved from my hometown 3 times until I finally landed in Mexico where I rebuilt my life from the ground up. I moved onto a sliver of land in the Mexican jungle across the street from the most beautiful beach I had seen in my life. I lived in a screened in half built house until I could learn the language and find the means to finish building a house to host other cancer survivors. I wanted to bring survivors to this simple, natural, isolated place, disconnected from the world. I wanted to share the energy and will to live that Tulum, Mexico had given me. And because I never told myself no, I did it.
I blame it all on my dad. He started me believing in myself. And when I stopped telling myself no, yes started to change my world. So if you are looking for a way to say yes to yourself a little more, try these 3 easy affirming actions:
- I know it sounds corny, but I have done it for years. Look in the mirror and tell yourself, “Yes you can…..” You fill in the blank but remind yourself every day, that yes, you can do whatever you want. Whether it is stepping outside your chosen field, learning something new, asking for that raise in pay, tell yourself you can.
- Take a moment to write down at least 5 successes that you have had in your life. If you think you have had none, look harder or call your mom or sister or best friend and ask them to help you. Sometimes we forget the greatest things we do. Then write those 5 things on your notes pages on the cell phone, as the screen saver on your computer and perhaps even think about doing some art with them or just putting a big sticky note – the really big ones – somewhere in your house. Keep these notes handy and make sure they sort of surprise you sometimes when they pop up but make sure that you look at them at least once every day. Use these success stories to remind yourself that you are a powerful person who has had some great successes.
- Then, make a list of what it is you want. Believing you can have these things, write down the steps to make it happen. For example, if you want to learn a new language, find a school and then find the money to take the class. If you have no money for the class, look for a free one. If you cannot find a free one, look on line. If that doesn’t work get a used text book and start to learn at home. The point is, once you have set your star to something, don’t take no for an answer. Believe you can. If you are asking for a raise, rehearse it as if it were a play. Make a list of all the reasons why you should get that raise and memorize them. If you cannot think of why you should get the raise, make a list of what you should do before you ask for it, right? Maybe finish that paper, or make sure you come to work on time for at least a month before you ask. Honestly plan what you need to do. Then pick a time or make an appointment and ask. Even if the answer is no, pat yourself on the back and make a date to do it again. Believe that you can.
The more you remind yourself, the more you’ll remember, the sooner you’ll believe. If you need help, find a friend who believes in you, a great yoga group or teacher who helps you get in touch with yourself and your beliefs or a book of affirmations that resonates with you. However you do it, believe in yourself. You will be amazed at the difference it can make.
p.s. Perhaps 15 minutes of yoga daily will help you believe in yourself just that much more. Sign up now for monthly 15 minute yoga audios. They are free and recorded by yours truly.