Posts Tagged ‘affirmations’

Student Depression: The Self-Help Trifecta

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Imagine you didn’t know how to breathe. Okay, that’s a bit ludicrous, but let’s say you were born on a planet where breathing was not necessary (for some absurd reason). Suddenly, you get orders from your local planetary travel center to beam to earth, where, if you don’t breathe, you perish.

Earth

"Leaves you breathless, doesn't it?"

So what do you do? You study and practice the art of breathing, because if you slack off you’ll end up a purple, shriveled vegetable (not to take this sinuous example any further than it has to, but for the sake of some viability, you use a breathing apparatus when you sleep). In a matter of weeks, breathing begins to feel more and more natural, and in six months’ time you’re better at breathing than most people on earth. And then, satisfied with your abilities, you disconnect your nightly breathing apparatus, in turn shriveling up into a purple corpse.

Pruple Vegetable

"They were found huddled together like that... a bittersweet end"

What a waste, huh? Breathing was never an innate ability for you; when you suddenly stopped there was no muscle memory to kickstart the process.

It’s (sort of) the same with self-help material. You don’t grow up in an environment that requires self-help to survive, but once you reach adulthood you’re faced with a plethora of dilemmas, challenges and life goals that would benefit immensely from motivational literature.

While you may take six months to become a self-help master, once you stop studying and practicing the material, what you learn effectively “dies.”

For the millennial attention span, lifelong commitment seems intimidating, to put it ever so lightly. That’s why the material fed into your brain, just like the oxygen going into your lungs, must not be overly complex, and must be easy to take in.

“Hey!” you say.

“Hey,” I say back.

“Hey… Yeah, well, I’m all for learning how to improve my life situation and all, but there’s like so many books out there and some contradict others and some say the same stuff over and over and over and some are so abstract they’re just words!”

“You’re right.”

“He- wait, what? I am?”

“You are.”

“Oh. Ok, cool.”

Indeed, there is a plethora of material out there. But there’s no need to complicate matters by taking it all in as dogma. That’s why I’ve gathered a teeny list here for you that you can easily inhale. Just don’t take it for granted or you’ll end up looking like this guy:

Grimace

"Grimace stopped breathing a long time ago..."

1. Mind Power into the 21st Century | John Kehoe

mind power into the 21st century
Not many books back up their material with quantum physics. Ok, quantum physics lite. But the exercises work, and they work extraordinary well. The best part? They’re simple and easily inhalable. Here’s an excerpt on how to best visualize your goals:

“Two conditions for a successful visualization: 1) Always visualize your goal as if it is actually happening to you right now. Make it real in your mind; make it detailed. Enter the role and become it in your mind. 2) Visualize your goal at least once a day, each and every day. There is power in repetition.”

2. The Power of Now | Eckhart Tolle

Power of Now
Ok, remember when you (well, I) mentioned that some self-help books seem to contradict each other? The Power of Now is the perfect example. Tolle is all about placing yourself in present moment. That includes cutting off your wandering mind.

Funny, Mind Power is all about thinking your way to a better life, and Power of Now is all about abdicating thought. It’s two radically different approaches to a clutter-free mind. Why do they work so well together?

Sometimes you need a hiatus from working your mind, even if all you’re doing is positive thinking. Tolle is great for this.

Some quotes:

“In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.”

“The past has no power over the present moment.”

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”

3. Self-Esteem Affirmations | Louise Hay

Self-Esteem Affirmations
Yes, Mind Power has great affirmations. In comparison, Hay’s lines seem to grind cheese:

“I am in harmony with nature. I bless this planet with love.” (taken from her website)

Don’t groan. Hold it, just for a second. Hay is a perfect bridge from the thought-powered Mind Power and the relatively thought-free teachings of The Power of Now (Tolle’s angle is objectively observing your thoughts rather than utilizing them). Hay’s audio book is meant to be heard before sleep, or used as white noise while going about quotidian duties. She’s the fundamental in-between, and her semi-subliminal audio material is a great addition to the other two’s “extremes.”

There you have it, no need to sift through dozens of self-help resources. These fundamental materials cover a wide area, perfect for us college students who need a chameleon approach to working around the anxieties of our Mobius-strip-like lives, our variegated needs always, always demanding an alternative way of going about the situation.

Stay Tuned.

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Aleksandr Smechov, Baruch College.

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Positive Programming

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

In my last article I talked about the influence of my parents’ education on my education choices. Though aware for some time how much they influenced me, the totality of that influence didn’t sink in until I wrote “Going Your Own Way“. I discovered, despite all of the effort I had put in to deprogramming myself from making choices simply to stay on my parents good side, I have a long way to go in becoming my own person.
Being stuck in your parents belief systems can happen for any number of reasons. First, you can be born into a very strict family and have parents who believe there is only one “right” way of seeing the world and only one way life must be approached. Second, you could have parents, like mine, who push you to do your best in school while neglecting the encouragement of yourself as an individual, especially when you disagree with them. Third, you might have  grown up in a family where there is little or no access to outside opinions or viewpoints, or had parents that only encourage you to follow in their footsteps. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should get you thinking. What beliefs do you act out, even when they don’t benefit you?
Today, make a list of every action you performed. At the end of the day, go over the list see if you can uncover your motivation for each action. What made you hold the door (or not) for the person behind you? What made you opt for a fast cheap lunch instead of something a little more expensive, but healthier? Don’t get too bogged down in details; this is just a quick list of your actions and motivations. Star any actions or attitudes you want to change or remove from your life. Move down the page quickly–don’t let this exercise turn into a guilt trip. You are simply taking the time to feel the stirrings of your true self as you quickly pick out what you don’t like to do or think. After going over the list, put it an an envelope marked “My Road to Improvement.”

You have now planted the idea in your mind that your subconscious actions and attitudes can and should change for the better. Although there are certain things you can’t avoid, like studying for that big test, you at least know there are other aspects of yourself you can control. Pull out your list during the weekend or any day in which you have set aside personal time (if you haven’t, pick a date and time now!). This is important, because although you might want to rush into your leisure activities, dedicating even a little of your free time towards self-improvement will make you more feel much more positive overall. In this way, you show yourself how important your mental and emotional well-being is.

Take a look at the actions you have starred. What makes you dislike performing those actions? Choose one and write at least a paragraph on where the habit comes from and why you’d like it to change. Be honest but gentle with yourself; now is not the time to be critical. If you notice your impulse to perform the action comes from a source outside yourself you don’t agree with, write another paragraph about how to turn the old idea into a more positive form of motivation.

For example, if you’ve discovered you purchase items you don’t need because you are unhappy, write about how you think you began this practice. Again, be honest. Any action performed to shift attention away from an unhappy situation instead of dealing with it should be resolved immediately. End your paragraph(s) with an affirmative statement: “Whenever I feel upset about a situation I cannot fully control, I will work on resolving my feelings on the issue.” Remember, this is an affirmation, no “can’ts, won’ts, or don’ts” should be allowed in your statement. Practice being more positive with yourself everyday and record your progress; your habits and thinking will change much faster with positive encouragement.

Think big!

There are many aspects of college life which would benefit from using positive affirmations. Start each morning with at least one affirmation about how productive and promising of a student you are. For added emphasis, state your affirmation(s) while looking into a mirror. This will help solidify the ties between the statement your making and yourself. Vary your routine and seek out new positive experiences. Get inspired at stores like Namaste which offer an eclectic array of books on self-improvement.

Evelyn Oluwole

Image Credit: alistairpott.com, amazingmusings.com

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