I used to stand in front of the mirror, with sticky notes of affirmations lining each side, and repeat them over and over to myself. I would look myself in the eye and recite them, just hoping I would start to believe them.
I walked into my therapist’s office and told him I felt like I was just brainwashing myself. I literally felt like I was lying to myself (and I was already being lied to enough by my husband) and just hoping I would be convinced that these lies were true. My body was not accepting them.
After 10 years of betrayal trauma, I felt deep in my body that I was broken – that I would never be enough. So I jumped on the affirmations bandwagon trying to convince myself that I wasn’t broken, that I was enough, beautiful, and confident.
This is why that didn’t work…
There is constant communication that happens between the mind and body through the vagus nerve (the largest nerve that attaches at the brain stem and extends to every organ in the body). In this nerve, which is probably best described as a collection of nerves, there are both afferent neurons, which send information from the body to the brain, and efferent neurons, which send information from the brain to the body.
80% of the communication between the brain and body is afferent, while only 20% is efferent. What does this mean? The body has a greater influence over the mind than it’s made out to.
While there is clearly some power in reciting affirmations to change your beliefs, it can be a real challenge and take a long time to believe when the body isn’t on board.
This mind-body relationship can be used to your advantage in altering your core belief system when done with a somatic approach.
Allow your body to be a member of the team by checking in with it when choosing affirmations. Notice the reaction your body has to each affirmation and whether it receives or rejects it.
When you put the 20% from your mind and the 80% from your body together, you use 100% of the tools at your disposal to impact your belief system. The mind and body cannot be separated from each other, and as you understand the dynamics of this relationship, you will be more equipped in knowing how you use your affirmations.
Now comes the question of how exactly to do that. Don’t worry, I will show you exactly how. Just keep reading.
Rather than making statements that are intended to feel like you have already arrived at the destination of achieving it, practice a process-based style of affirmations. This allows for the space of “I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it”.
Process-based affirmations are incredibly helpful as you are trying to find an affirmation your body is willing to accept – one that resonates as truth. You can also think of this as a bridging affirmation to get from one belief to another – the old one that is no longer serving you, to the new one that you desire.
To create these affirmations, you can try adding -ing to the verb, such as, I am healed to I am healing or you can change the wording entirely to something that resonates better with your body. For example, I have the strength to handle anything that happens to I am building the strength to handle whatever happens or I am learning the skills to thrive in any trial I may face.
There is so much power in the body as we connect deeper with it in the mind-body relationship. So next time you try to shift beliefs, check in with your body and listen to what it’s saying.
For more healing of the mind-body connection after betrayal trauma, you can find me on IG @healwithcarriejean or check out https://www.myhealinghub.com/ for ways to work with me.