You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.

Johnny Mercer

I have a game on my iPad that I play when I’m bored. Well, full disclosure, I often play it when I’m not a bit bored because I’m somewhat addicted. It’s a matching game, and while it started out easy, it’s now kicking my butt.

Anyhoo, the game opens up by presenting affirmations to the player. They change every two or three days. The most recent one said You are fierce. You are unafraid. You are strong. I’m not reluctant to tell you that the affirmations always tick me off. This one, however, makes me want to throw my iPad across the room.

Every time the affirmation shows up (and that’s quite often because SEE ABOVE: I’m addicted), I immediately tell my iPad, “No siree. I’m timid. I’m afraid of everything. I’m a weakling.” So, see? The affirmations are working against me, not with me.

Hey! That could be the new affirmation: Affirmations don’t work for you.

If the world’s psychologists believe affirmations are necessary, they should make them more realistic, more attainable. Instead of I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me, they should say something like You have a 50% chance of getting both legs into your pants today without falling back onto the bed. Or It’s entirely possible that you won’t cut someone off in traffic today.

Affirmations remind me of Chinese fortune cookies. It used to be that fortune cookies actually told fortunes like You will meet a tall, dark stranger today. Now they are more likely to wimpily declare Your sunny personality makes you pleasant to be around. I’m not certain the reason for the change, but I suspect litigation is behind it all. (The fortune cookie promised I would meet a tall, dark stranger, and I counted on that; however, it was a false promise. I’m going to sue China.) Either that, or the former cookies were hurting Gen Xers’ feelings. (What? I’m only pleasant? I’m not amazing?)

My belief is that the only people who take affirmations seriously are those who don’t need the affirmations. They already know they are fierce (uh huh), unafraid (yep), and strong (as an ox). The rest of us are saying but you don’t know the real me. I would be a great disappointment to you.

My conclusion, therefore, is that affirmations are a waste of time.

Hey! That too could be an affirmation. Maybe I should go into the affirmation-writing business.

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