Monday, March 23, 2009

Crouching Buzzard - Affirmations in Therapy

One of the funnier aspects of Crouching Buzzard is the interactions between the programmers and the therapists, trying to co-exist and share office space. It's not a match made in heaven.

When Dr. Adams brings out her box of Affirmation Bears, you just know that trouble is brewing. It's too good a set-up.

What is an affirmation? Positive affirmations are a therapy tool meant to help the patient "re-program" their self image. If someone is overweight, believes they're overweight, and can never be anything but overweight, that person can use a positive affirmation to change their self-image. Here's kind of how it works.

With a positive affirmation, you look for a short, positive phrase or sentence that states how you want to think about yourself, rather than how you think about yourself now. If the phrase "You're fat and ugly" rings continuously in your head, your affirmation might be "I am thin and beautiful." Here's what the Lance Armstrong Foundation website, LiveStrong, says on self-affirmations:
  • Healing, positive self-scripts you give to yourself to counter your negative self-scripts.
  • Vehicles by which you can free yourself from the over-dependence on other's opinions, attitudes or feelings about you and feel good aboutyourself.
  • The visualization of a new order and sense in your life, which you can work toward achieving.
  • You take personal responsibility for your health and emotional stability.

Personal affirmations usually take three forms: "I am...", "I can...", or "I will..." statements. Again, from the LiveStrong website:

"I" statements:

"I'' statements are one-line statements that can be repeated to cover three areas:

"I am"--a statement of who you are. This is a positive affirmation of a real state of being that exists in you. You can achieve a full list of "I am" statements by taking a personal positive inventory of your attributes, strengths, talents and competencies. Examples include:* I am competent--I am energetic...

"I can"--a statement of your potential. This is a positive affirmation of your ability to accomplish goals. It is a statement of your belief in your power to grow, to change, and to help yourself. "I can" statements are developed after you develop a set of short-term (3 to 6 months) goals. Examples include: * I can lose weight--I can grow...

"I will"--a statement of positive change in your life. This is a positive affirmation of a change you want to achieve. It is a positive statement of what you want to happen. It is a "success prophecy.'' "I will" statements are developed after you have set your priorities for the short-term goals you have set. Examples include:* I will like myself better each day...

The basic theory behind this is you repeat your affirmation over and over. Write it on a 3x5 card, and stick it on your mirror in the bathroom. Tape it to the steering column of your car. Put it on your computer monitor - anywhere you will see it over and over, and reprogram the "negative message" in your head, and replace it with your positive message. When I was using affirmations many years ago, I actually went out and got a 10 second looped answering machine tape, recorded my affirmation, and played it continuously in the car, on the way to and from work.

Now that you know what the basic theory of affirmations is, let's look at what Dr. Adams had, and what the programmers did. Here is a list of some of the affirmations the bears were supposed to say:

  • I am a calm, rational person who never resorts to physical violence to solve my problems.
  • I always try to see the best in every situation.
  • Whenever something makes me angry, I stop, take a deep breath, and try to see the humorous side of the situation.
  • Don't keep anger and hurt feelings bottled up inside. Find positive ways of expressing negative feelings.
  • I gladly accept new challenges and new situations.
  • I am not afraid to show my feelings.
  • I take responsibility for my own destiny.
  • Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

And here's what happened when the programmers got done reprogramming the bears:

  • "Here's looking at you, kid." (In Bogart's voice)
  • "Hehehehehe.....wipeout!" (Riff of surfing music)
  • "Belch!"
  • "nyuk-nyuk-nyuk-nyuk" (think Three Stooges")
  • "Hiya Babe, how's tricks?"
  • "How about another brewski?"

Don't tell me what your affirmation would be... But, what would your re-programmed bear say?

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