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Give Us This Day, Our Daily Affirmation

I am a big believer in the power of words and their transcendental quality—once released into the Universe, they seem to take on an energy of their own.  I have built a career around the power of words.  Actually, I have built the very life I live through the power of words.

So I can’t really explain why I’ve never really been a huge fan of affirmations.  Though everything we write is basically an affirmation of our thoughts and life, actually doing positive affirmations has always felt false and forced.  I just couldn’t do the stand-in-front-of-the-mirror-and-say-“I-love-you-Janna” thing.

But in the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced an epiphany, a renaissance of the mind regarding affirmations.  And this illumination has been inspired by a garish hot-pink-and-light-blue book that’s been sitting on my shelf unread for over a decade.  I don’t even remember where I got it or why I was moved to buy it.  But for some reason, I never thought to get rid of it.  Funny thing about books—some just sit there patiently, collecting dust, for the day when we pick them up and are ready to really understand their message.  What is the saying?  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

So my current teacher, this hot-pink, 80’s-style-covered book by Louise L. Hay called “The Power Is Within You” has helped me work through a nagging and terrifying rumination that I’ve been trying to rid myself of for four years:  Mother-fear.  Fear that “something” will happen to Oliver and Lucy.  Fear that I have no control, that Life is too risky and they are too vulnerable.  Fear that I will fall apart, cease to live.  Just fear.  Fear with no placed to put it, fear that hangs in the air above my brightest days and threatens rain every time it seeps into my thoughts.

I didn’t realize that when I gave birth to my son Oliver four years ago that I would also give birth to fear.  I didn’t realize prior to becoming a mother that I enjoyed a life with relatively little fear.  I’ve learned that fear feels terrible.  And in most cases it is not only useless, but also harmful to my health.

I could feel fear’s grip tightening around my neck every time I thought, “What if something happened to Oliver and Lucy…”  Those very words were the fearful mantra I’d been repeating over and over, in my head, to my friends, to anyone who would talk to me about this sucky thing I call Mother Fear.

Most recently, I tried to give my fear up to a star.  My intention was to find a star and designate it as my fear holder, so I wouldn’t have to hold onto it any more.  And that did help, but it didn’t make the thoughts go away.  They would come and I would envision them flying up into the sky to some gracious star that didn’t mind holding onto my stinky thoughts.

But then one night, for some reason I cannot explain, I noticed Hay’s book sitting on my shelf.  I began it without commitment, but within the first chapter when she started talking about fear and the effect it had on her life, my curiosity was piqued.  And then I came to this passage:

“Imagine that your thoughts are like drops of water.  One thought or one drop of water does not mean very much.  As you repeat thoughts over and over, you first notice a stain on the carpet, then there is a little puddle, then a pond, and as these thoughts continue, they can become a lake, and finally an ocean.  What kind of ocean are you creating?”

And in reading those words, I realized I was creating an ocean of fear regarding my kids.  And I don’t want that.  I want them to feel brave and free, to explore this life with an eye toward adventure and growth.

So I read on.

In Chapter Four, entitled “Reprogramming Old Tapes,” she says, “Remember, every time you think a thought, and every time you speak a word, you are saying an affirmation.”  A few pages later she goes on to say, “When you first say an affirmation, it may not seem true.  But remember, affirmations are like planting seeds in the ground.  When you put a seed in the ground, you don’t get a full-grown plant the next day.”

So a couple of weeks ago, every time I would feel fear or worry, instead of repeating my fear mantra, I replaced it with this affirmation: “Oliver and Lucy are Safe and Protected.”  And because I have nothing to lose in this exercise, I kept saying it. Every time fear tried to wrap its slimy hands around my neck, I’d give it an elbow and literally shove the thought away with my new affirmation, “Oliver and Lucy are safe and protected.”

I say it aloud and I say it inside my head.  I’ve trained myself to notice the fear thought and feeling when it tries to creep in, and immediately I blast it with, “Oliver and Lucy are safe and protected.”

I wrote it in big letters in my journal.  I say it to myself when I walk down the street.  I say it out loud while I’m riding my bike.  Oliver and Lucy are safe and protected.

And you know what?  It’s working.  Slap me silly and call me Floyd, it’s working.
So there.  Give us this day, our daily affirmation, and forgive ourselves for having thoughts that scare us, and lead us toward peace and empowerment.

Amen.

Janna Brayman Krawczyk is a writer and a teacher.  She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Teaching from Hamline University.  She has been writing in a journal for over half of her life and has finally accepted that life is not easy, yet our struggles and obstacles are what inspire insight and wisdom.  For this reason, she must write as a way to understand herself and her life, stay sane, and dream big dreams.  She feels blessed to share this healing and illuminating practice with as many people as possible in her lifetime…

  1. Good for you! Fear is so difficult to work through. In the past felt the same way about affirmations and now have one for about everything. Now you are ready to read “The Big Leap.” Love your blog!

  2. I have had and live with that exact same ongoing fear. I had to give it up to a higher power at some point alon g the way. My own vulnerability became so crystal clear to me when I became a mother. The Universe had me “by the balls” so to speak, and I understood in a very visceral way that I could now be crushed emotionally. That kind of love makes you unbelievably vulnerable. For me I found it’s best to view it as a gift and trust in their safety. Scary for those of us who feel compelled to convince ouselves we never “need” anything, and can handle it all ourselves.

  3. OMG!! Janna, sometimes I read some of these things and wonder if you and I are the same person? I am so absolutely in the same place. “Paralyzed with fear” about my kiddos. Your helping me to realize so much. Just not sure I am ready to let go of my fear just yet. I am kind of comfy with it. Make sense?? I have made progress this summer though. I am actually trusting Chad. Not to say that I didn’t…but in my own heart, I know I did not trust him with them completely. Terrible huh?? I think it has so much to do with my own hopeless childhood. Loving you!! Margie

  4. Well, girl, you’ve wrote another great blog. Thank you. I am well acquainted with the mother-fear thing. I realized after one daughter was assaulted in high school and another daughter was mugged that I could not keep them safe. But, as a mother, I could help them be resilent and courageous enough to bounce back after difficult things happen. We mothers will always worry about out children, but we need to be able to continue living, continue being positive and productive. I pray for my darlings daily. I like your mantra. Wish I’d had it when my babes were young.
    Also, that mother love – it is so very, very fierce. My eldest daughter said to me right after our first grand daughter was born, “Mom, why didn’t you tell me that my love for her would be so intense?” How could I explain the all – encompassing, life altering love that is mother love?
    And with that mother love, is the mother fear. It’s a good idea to notice the tapes playing in our heads and make changes when we can.

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