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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Affirmations Schmaffirmations


Today was my last of 10 radiation treatments for cancer that is encroaching on one of my sacral nerves and causing some really lousy sciatica-type pain. Thankfully, it has helped to a degree, although I’m kind of worn out by it.

Anyway, in the inner waiting area at the radiology clinic, there sits a basket that, overseen by a paper smiley face on a stick, is full of small sheets of paper on which are typed a variety of life-affirming notes – what we now call ‘affirmations’.

Being a self-avowed cancer curmudgeon, I don’t find affirmations of any kind very helpful. I don’t find them helpful because I don’t find them honest.

Now I understand that affirmations help people.  A lot of people, obviously, or we wouldn’t be using them so much (they even come in our chocolate candies – opened a dove chocolate square lately? Doesn’t velvety chocolate say all it needs to?).  And if they help you, more power to you.

But sometimes, they are out-and-out lies.
Really? There is no one and has been no person on this planet to whom only good things have happened. For one thing, random shit happens to people. All people. It just does. Secondly, none of us are always good people. Sometimes, we say mean things, we are impatient with our children, we slap our dogs on their noses, we gossip, we lie, we take the last brownie when we know it’s our spouses favorite, we operate out of self-interest. And some people do much, MUCH worse things. The consequence of doing some of those things is that bad things happen. We’re impatient with our teenager and they yell and slam doors. We eat the last brownie and our spouse makes a snarky comment about the size of our butt. NO ONE deserves only good things in their life. No one.  Because, frankly, we don’t DO only good things in our lives.

 The devil is in the details. Not many of us will kill our neighbor’s annoying cat, but many will lie to our neighbors about knowing the location of said cat if it turns up missing. It’s the small stuff that does matter because it’s accumulative. It is the building blocks of our everyday lives, of our everyday selves. We are our actions.

So, maybe instead of believing that we should always feel good and have only good in our lives, we should feel a little badly about the bad stuff that we do and expect the bad stuff that we get in return. If we engaged in a little honest reflection and de-affirmation from time-to-time, perhaps we would become people who don’t need our chocolates to tell us how great we are what we deserve out of life.

1 comment:

  1. Ruthie--
    I just had a flashback to SNL's Stuart Smalley:"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." Truly, Ruth, I think you ARE all three of those, even if it didn't grant you immunity.
    Sending love,