Wacker said he helps shape his future by saying an affirmation that he borrowed from the Indian chief Tecumseh that acknowledges the new day and gives thanks for its light and sustenance. He says it aloud, in front of the mirror, each morning. To develop your own affirmations, he said, “You have to get to the issue of your beliefs. Beliefs are values put to action, what you’re willing to stand up for. And there’s nothing more powerful than when you put your ‘be’ and your ‘do’ together.”
Using affirmations can even make you younger, said Roizen. “It shouldn’t be that you have to have a heart attack to wake you up.” In his book and on his Web site, www.realage.com, he offers specific actions that can affect your body. “Start by doing things that are very easy,” Roizen said. “If you pick something too tough to do, it’s like a prison sentence. You want to break out of it.”
Instead, he recommends that you pick three or four things that are pleasurable for you to do that actually make a difference and set a goal for doing them. If you hate exercise, for example, do not pick exercise for your first challenge. It should come further along the line, after you have had some success with other easier habits. “Do it in small steps,” he said.
The form of your affirmation and your action is unique to you. “I change affirmations from patient to patient,” said Oz. “For example, if I’m operating on an athletic director, I use sports analogies. I think affirmations should be customized.”
And be specific. While it’s good to have confidence that you will live, it is not as useful to have a broad affirmation like, “I’m going to live.” Rather, he suggests making targeted requests for your mind and your body.
Oz’s affirmations for dealing with disease include:
I am calm in the face of adversity. I turn my fear into power and confidence. I am like a ship in difficult waters. I know it is choppy at times, but I stay the course.
I use my breath to get me through troubles. Through all the changes in life, my breath is always there. I take deep, concentrated breaths and I focus my mind on those breaths. They calm me and they help me heal. They increase my lymphatic flow, fill my airways and reduce the chance of pneumonia.
I am getting the best care that my team can provide me. I am supported by a team that includes my doctor, the staff and my family. I am getting good care because I am a loved person, a good person. And I am getting back all the loving that I have given.
I enter my special zone where time disappears, where I am totally focused and hyper-aware of events around me, but I am completely calm. It is the same space I occupy when I am doing what I love — listening to Chopin, playing my favorite sport — and it is from this zone that I take on the challenge of dealing with my surgery and other demanding moments of dealing with disease.
I take important lessons from the challenge of this disease. I am undergoing a trial and I am becoming a stronger person for the rest of my life. It is not bad luck, it is a chance to improve myself.
Health matters are not just about dealing with illnesses, but about preventing them. Roizen suggests more than 40 approaches that can be expressed in the form of an affirmation, including:
I take actions each day to help my body be as young and healthy as possible. I use my success in doing simple tasks, like flossing my teeth for healthy gums, to challenge myself to take on harder ones, like stopping smoking entirely.
I can control my blood pressure. I measure it and I follow through with whatever is recommended to lower it if it is too high, be it medication, diet or exercise.
I find a physical activity that suits me, and I do it. I can do 10 minutes of resistance exercises three times a week. I can take two 20-minute walks a day.
I reframe situations so that they are not so stressful for me. I reduce stress by joining a positive group where I can share with others.
I am a lifelong learner for my health. Every day I read a bit of health news. My education never stops.
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