I was 7-years-old standing on a stool beside my grandma as she spread tuna salad between two slices of homemade sandwich bread. She placed it inside a large wicker picnic basket, alongside the carrot sticks, homemade jam-jam cookies (think, shortbread with gooey strawberry jam deliciousness inside!). It was a beautiful summer day— the perfect kind of day for a picnic under the old oak tree.
As she placed a stack of green folded napkins into the basket, she brought a fruit bowl closer to me, “what fruit shall we add to our basket?” she said. To my 7-year-old self, this was the biggest task I could have been given. I stood staring at the towering and sweetly-scented bowl: bananas, kiwi, grapes, pears, and apples. What was a girl to choose?
My heart settled on two Ruby Red apples. “Oh yes. Those are the perfect choice. My mum always told me an apple-a-day keeps the doctor away.” She said softly. I gently placed the apples in the basket, thinking in that exact moment that all the sickness in the world could be cured with those two apples.
My wiser-adult self tells this story today knowing that a healthy mind, body, and soul involves a much more complex interplay of elements. Leave it to the mind of a child to magically hope for such a blissfully simple solution to the world’s problems.
But what if the wisdom passed down about an ‘apple-a-day keeping the doctor away’ holds some truth? Perhaps some of the elements that keep us healthy are in fact, well… just rather simple.
A solid body of research has shown us that a rather simple element of nurturing a healthy mind— and ultimately body and soul— is being mindful of how we talk to ourselves.
WHAT ARE AFFIRMATIONS?
The way we talk to ourselves (including all that internal dialogue that streams in and out of our minds throughout our day) can be called affirmations. We are using self-affirmations when we say:
I am no good at this.
I can’t fit in my pants today; I am disgusting.
I am never going to get that done.
And we are also giving ourselves an affirmation when we say:
I am enough.
I am beautiful just as I am.
I have the power within me to get this done.
SIMPLY PUT, OUR AFFIRMATIONS BECOME OUR BELIEF SYSTEM; SHAPING HOW WE SEE OURSELVES AND OTHERS, AND IN SOME CASES LIMITING OUR ABILITY GROW AND CHANGE.
As bestselling Author and Wellness guru, Louise Hay, writes:
“Your beliefs are merely habitual thinking patterns that you learned as a child. Many of them work very well for you. Other beliefs may be limiting your ability to create the very things you say you want.” louisehay.com
HOW CAN POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS NURTURE MY FAMILY’S HEALTH?
Everyday your child is forming their own belief system, which they will use to navigate their world well into adulthood. In your child’s early years, this belief system takes on the form of the voices of their attachment figures. Developmentally speaking, this is what keeps children safe from danger; think what would happen if mama wasn’t around to say “don’t get too close to that road, a car may come zooming by!”).
Developmental Psychologists believe that starting as early as age 4, children will begin forming their own belief system, through a process called introjection —or internalizing authority/attachment figures. That means that children start to develop their own internal moral compass and self-talk, or in other words children will begin to use self-affirmations.
“Affirmations are like seed planted in soil. Poor soil, poor growth. Rich soil, abundant growth. The more you choose to think thoughts that make you feel good, the quicker the affirmations work.” Louise Hay
We all intentionally hope that our child adopts positive self-affirmations in childhood. When your child is struggling, you want them to say to themselves whole-heartedly:
“I am powerful. I can change. I have what I need to get through this”.
This is why it is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle to incorporate positive affirmations into a child’s daily routine; and what is even more powerful, is to connect and share around positive self-affirmations.
Using Positive Self-Affirmations Can Be As Simple As:
- Creating times in your day to share a positive self-affirmation, like bedtime, bath time, dinner time;
- Sharing your own positive self-affirmation aloud, “yesterday mama had a really yucky day, but today is a new day, and I can make it great”;
- Inviting your child to share their thoughts and feelings, and gently helping them create positive self-affirmations, “I know that made you really mad when he took your toy. I know you have the power to be flexible. Let’s solve this together”.
Today, my adult self knows that the rather simple moment— 7-years-old, standing on a stool next to my loving grandma, preparing for our summer picnic, and choosing apples— was woven into the tapestry of my inner belief system. For I, to this day, believe that…
I have the power the be healthy.
I have the power to choose.
I have to power to be loved and to love.
And sometimes, it really is… just that simple.
With Love and Gratitude,
Over the last decade, Michelle has helped hundreds of children and families move from chaos to connection. Michelle Brans is a Registered Family Psychotherapist, and holds a Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Counselling Psychology. She is a passionate heart-centered Storyteller, Published Author and Educator on Holistic-Integrative Child & Family Wellness Practices. She is the Founder & Clinical Director of Counting Butterflies, where she is leading her team and community in developing sustainable private-care solutions for child & family mental health. Michelle lives with her husband, daughter, two dogs, bunny, 5 chickens, and horse, on their ever-growing homestead and butterfly conservation farm in rural Ontario, Canada.