#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Affirmation

Noun. the action or process of affirming something; emotional support or encouragement.

* The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.”

It is interesting to reflect on which themes create flow for our group of writers and which ones make the head (and the heart) hurt whilst we grapple to unpack a word to get some words on the page. I usually write and share before I read and share the other posts but I fell behind with my writing this month, so I have just had a peek at everyone else’s angles on this topic.

The tension between the head and the heart, the internal and the external, is an interesting one to mull over for the theme of affirmation…

Are we seeking others to affirm us, to make us steady, to strength us?

Or are we affirming ourselves, steadying ourselves and strengthening ourselves?

I have pulled out some threads from the other posts that have been shared this month:

To affirm…

To confirm something to be true…

Lindsay’s post talks about the imposter syndrome and needing evidence to make something true, to affirm it. It made me think of how obsessed we are as teachers with evidence. Is it more important to show it then it is to know it?  

To manifest…

To encourage positive changes in our lives…

Annelouise’s post dismissed the mantras and affirmations you can find on the internet as they are generic and not personalised. They are a good starting point, but we need to affirm ourselves in our own words to truly be able to own it.

To appreciate…

To give and receive feedback…

Fiona’s post reflects on the trust needed in a relationship before we can believe and accept affirmation from others. As educators we nurture others, we affirm others as part of our daily practice but who affirms us?

To strengthen…

To give assurance and support…

Chris’ post explored the etymology of the word affirmation and broke down what it means to affirm someone else and the impact it has on the receiver. He repeated the word transmission and posed how a look, a gesture is all it takes to affirm another human being.

To compliment…

To accept and assimilate praise…

Jess’ post unpacked her upbringing and how she struggles with accepting and believing praise bestowed upon her. And in turn how this has shaped her as a parent and a teacher in ensuring that she praises others, and encourages them to believe it.

To steady…

To reinforce and to empower from within…  

For me an affirmation comes from within. It is how you think and feel about yourself. It is an internal validation, instead of an external one. It is an active belief.  Affirmations help purify our thoughts and restructure the dynamic of our brains so that we truly begin to think nothing is impossible and that anything is possible.

We are what we think.

I often suggest creating a daily affirmation as part of my coaching and my leadership development work. It is a powerful tool for positive thinking and self-empowerment as an affirmation is a self-validation and projects to the universe what we want to manifest in our lives.

An affirmation is an antidote to the Inner Critic and the Imposter Syndrome. An affirmation is about making your inner world and your internal voice, louder, stronger and more powerful than some of the negative voices in your head and some of the critical voices in your life.   

In the work I do with Resilient Leaders Elements one of the tools is the strengths mantra, which affirms your values, forces you to articulate where your strengths lie and reminds you what you should be leading with, as we often zoom into and amplify our areas for development and lead with them instead. My clients often struggle with articulating who they are at their best and I challenge them to dig deep and to find the words to articulate who they are as opposed to who they have been told they are!  

Perhaps as educators we need to practise what we preach when it comes to believing our own strengths, our own impact and our own value. Our inability to do this is often compounded by our identity, our Britishness can get in our way, our belief systems instilled in us by others can also be a barrier which makes me link to the #IamRemarkable sessions I run and our relationship with self-advocacy and humility.  

I believe that affirmations start from within. It is an internal process instead of an external process. It is about affirming ourselves, rather than seeking or receiving affirmation from others. It is about owning who we are, standing by the choices we make and accepting ourselves but focusing on the strengths instead of the perceived weaknesses.

To affirm ourselves is to live our values, to affirm our values and to strengthen our values.

To affirm ourselves is to know the value we have and the value we add.  

To affirm ourselves is to own who we are and to be proud of who we are.

To affirm ourselves is to self-validate, to self-empower and to increase our sense of self-worth.

To affirm ourselves is to self-advocate.

I have spent the summer affirming my personal and professional choices. Working independently, and going solo during lockdown, meant that any affirmation that I did use to receive from others (from my colleagues and former teams), disappeared overnight.  My affirmation now comes from my clients – the people I coach, the people I train, the people I develop – but mainly from myself.

We need to empower ourselves, as much as we empower others, to affirm who we are. We need to understand ourselves, at our essence, to believe who we are.

Published by Ethical Leader

Leadership Development Consultant, Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Writer. Experience of teaching schools, initial teacher education, mentoring & coaching, diversity and equality. Passionate about integrity, ethics and values.

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