photo: Denise Krebs on flickr

photo: Denise Krebs on flickr

What’s your favorite affirmation?

Even if you don’t do affirmations, I’ll bet you still have one.

Like when you’re having a great day and you say to yourself, My life is amazing.

Or when you accomplish something significant and you think, I am awesome. And I keep getting awesomer.

One of my favorite baseline affirmations is:

I approve of myself just the way I am.

It’s great in any situation. It works when things are going well and I’m feeling great. And it works when everything is falling apart and I’m feeling crappy.

I approve of myself just the way I am.

This affirmation allows me to open up to the Love that’s always present within and around me.

photo: Wil Kristin on flickr

photo: Wil Kristin on flickr

And then there’s another kind of affirmation, a naughty kind.

These affirmations don’t play by the rules. Indeed, if the Affirmation Police catch you using a rogue affirmation, you’ll get a ticket.

Granted, the ticket will be a positive statement, in the present tense, preferably beginning with “I am.” Because that’s how affirmations are supposed to be phrased.

Rogue affirmations don’t play by the rules. And yet they work anyway. Which, ultimately, is the key to their charm.

Here’s an example:

Back in the day, I bought a book called The Only Diet There Is by Sondra Ray. The book contains a whole bunch of wonderful affirmations designed to foster a healthy body image and heal any dysfunctions with food.

photo: Ben Hosking on flickr

photo: Ben Hosking on flickr

At the time I bought the book, I was in my early twenties and just starting to heal my disordered relationship with food. I was anorexic as a teenager, a pattern that was followed by several years of compulsive overeating.

When I was twenty-three years old, I stumbled upon the spiritual path. I started meditating and stopped eating sugar. Both of these practices had a positive effect on my body image and my relationship with food.

I bought Sondra Ray’s book to support the healing I was experiencing with food and weight.

A majority of the affirmations in her book played by the rules. They were positive, affirmative statements phrased in the present tense. Statements like:

I am a thin, fit woman who can sit and eat slowly and stop before I am full.

sitting on the dock of the bay

I wrote out a list of my favorite affirmations from the book and read them daily.

The affirmations were great and I loved them all. There was one affirmation, however, that I was particularly fond of. Unlike the others, it strayed from the proper procedure.

Calories make me warm, not fat!

It’s phrased in the present tense. It’s got that going for it. But it has the word “not” in it. Baaaaaaaaad.

And then there’s the word “fat.” That’s exactly the opposite of what you’re wanting to affirm. Verrrrrry baaaaaaad.

There’s no reason why this affirmation should work. The rationale behind using positive statements in affirmations is that the subconscious doesn’t register the word no. If you say “No drugs,” the subconscious just hears “Drugs.”

That’s why “Just Saying No” to things is often unsuccessful.

photo: Gail Williams on flickr

photo: Gail Williams on flickr

Except when it is.

In my case, my enthusiastic use of “Calories make me warm, not fat” resulted in an interesting phenomenon.

Slowly but surely, my metabolism started to change. Most noticeably, any time I slowed down – particularly when I meditated or slept – my body heated up.

This phenomenon continues to this day. I am what is known in the mattress trade as a radiator. Melissa and I recently had to return a mattress three times because my heat-inducing tendencies relegated a regular foam mattress into a slab of mush.

Calories make me warm, not fat!

photo: Geert Schneider on flickr

photo: Geert Schneider on flickr

My favorite thing about this story is that it’s a reminder of one of the fundamental tenets of the spiritual path.

Life is a mystery.

Yes, there are rules and patterns beneath things, and we can use these rules and patterns to improve our lives and align ourselves with the Divine.

But sometimes the Divine colors outside the lines. Indeed, sometimes the lines disappear altogether.

The more we can accept the rules and the transcendence of rules, the happier we’ll be.

It all begins and ends in the same place: with the Divine. When we let something bigger than ourselves guide us through the world of order and apparent disorder, everything starts to make sense.

Except when it doesn’t.

And that’s okay.

photo: Derrick Tyson on flickr

photo: Derrick Tyson on flickr

When has coloring outside the lines served you? When has breaking the rules brought you fulfillment?


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