Summary: My friend Tina was having a hard time transitioning into health—despite everything she was open to trying. It turns out her thoughts were holding her back more than she realized. An affirmation was just the trick that Tina (not her real name) needed to save the day.
A few months ago, I got a phone call from my friend Tina (not her real name). Like me, she's a perfectionist and, also like me, she struggles with sinus problems. One is a physical problem, while the other is emotional and mental. For these reasons and many others, Tina and I get along great!
Although Tina has also been a client in the past, this phone conversation in particular was a friendly one. Tina called to vent: Her sinus problems were not clearing up, despite a good six months of dedication to prescribed and supplementary over-the-counter medications, as well as changing her diet and enlisting other holistic therapies via visits to her M.D., pharmacist, nutritionist and local bookstore for expert and self-education. Her latest endeavor—one that sounded interesting and worthwhile to me—was causing her especial grief.
"I wake up every night now, unable to breathe," Tina explained to me. "My doctors say this is a good sign, because it means there's drainage happening, but it's seriously disrupting my sleep." Naturally, this lack of sleep was disrupting her daytime productivity, too.
Tina told me that one of her health team members had given her a visualization exercise: Each time she awakened, she was to sit up and meditate, imagining her sinus passages opening up and her ability to breathe becoming easier. But Tina said this was the most disappointing of all techniques.
"Why?" I asked.
"It's just not working!"
"Is it not working at all—or is it just not working perfectly?"
"Oh," Tina said, getting where I was going with this. "I guess I'm being a little perfectionist about this." She laughed, and I laughed with her, because this was a common theme for us.
I led Tina through the list of questions that I spelled out for YOU, reader, last week. Here were her summarized responses:
(1) During this visualization exercise, I felt in my body: congested, sleepy and tense.
(2) Emotionally, I felt frustrated, disappointed, and a combination of angry and sad.
(3) The thoughts I was thinking were: 'I'll never be able to breathe well; I might as well give up trying!'
(4) These thoughts DO NOT make me want to expand and grow.
(5) If someone else spoke to me this way, it would make me want to knock that person's block off! How insulting!
(6) I would prefer that someone speak to me encouragingly, even nurturing.
Eventually, the sentence that Tina and I came up with as her affirmation was, "I am a work in progress. I get healthier every day." As her friend and coach, I gave her the assignment to think this sentence in her head (or whisper it aloud if that helped her most) each time she practiced the visualization exercise.
And what do you think happened? Tina reported that it was much easier to do the exercise with her healthier, more optimistic way of thinking, and that she was beginning to breathe and sleep more easily through the night after only a couple of weeks.
© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2010