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Childhood dog whispering and five benefits of affirmation practice

Updated: Apr 28

Memory of being a childhood dog whisperer

Mainstream awareness of affirmations are supported for personal development from fields such as neurobiology, psychology, business, and leadership. As I begin, my role as somatic and relaxation guide for Greener Thumbs, I am asking myself, what are the top five benefits of affirmation practice for me?

As I ponder, a vivid childhood memory from age six pops in. I am sitting on a stone step outside my grandmother’s house and petting one of her large dogs. I remember this regular

practice of petting it’s soft forehead and long floppy ears. I focus on the downward angle of the dog's chin, and I recall placing my hand under the dogs chin, lifting it a bit and affirming, “It is all ok good boy, keep your chin up,” or “I know you are sad, just keep your head up, it will be ok.” I spent hours with my grandmother's many dogs as a listener and encourager.

I have recalled this experience many times over the years. For instance, during my undergraduate work in psychology and dance. Being tested on the concept of projection, I rewired my memory realizing I may not have been the dog whisperer, but instead the dog likely was my own therapeutic tool for self-affirmation.

The memory emerged still after my graduate degrees in rehabilitation counseling and many certification and metaphysical experiences. I have been touched by the moment of childhood awareness and marveled at the deep interconnections of life. Perhaps the dog and I were one, sharing a moment of uncertainty, development, and loving grace. Labeling this memory and storytelling was not as important as the power of the body memory and sense of the vibrations of love and care. Even today, I treasure this delicately sweet recollection.

This memory and my changing perspectives with it help me to realize a number of ways that YES, affirmations can be a tremendous help and power for us all.

1.Affirmations help us when we feel threatened or stressed.

These threats can be real or perceived and I don’t know anyone who does not at some point

feel stress or threats. During this early time in my life, my family was living in an adjoining apartment at my grandmother’s home while our house was being built. I can imagine I had been uprooted from one home, the current “digs” I remember were dark and kind of scary, and I also had changed schools. Yes, this kiddo was dealing with uncertainty to say the least.

2. Affirmations can help us discover and anchor us to what matters most.

Sensory overload is real. Affirmations help us to sort through the noise and choose what we desire and value in our lives. I can imagine my childhood affirmation, “It is all ok, keep your chin up” may have helped me to tap into the perspective that we can not always see what is going on on the surface of things. There seems to be a hint of hope there which may have helped me to be more courageous with all the uncertainty. I don’t subscribe to toxic positivity, but we know with integrative wellness, the body (keep your chin

up) can be utilized to help the mind to manage stress and build resilience.

3. Affirmations can help us to view ourselves more holistically and help us to connect the

and integrate different aspects in our life.

Each of us is a physical being, with a mind, emotions, and I believe a uniqueness like no other

person which I will call spirit. We have purpose, roles, relationships, preferences and the list

goes on. As we develop our affirmation practice, we begin to broaden our perspective of who

we are, what we believe, and where we want to go. A clinical example is with chronic pain. Often, ongoing pain can be overwhelming (I have also been there - maybe in another blog). When we broaden our view holistically of our many aspects, we can often discover more ways to cope, to experience surrender, and even joy too.

4. Affirmations are one powerful tool to assist with deepening and honoring our relationship with ourselves.

In the mindfulness and relaxation realms we hear more and more about loving self-

compassion. The National Institutes of Health shares, “Higher levels of self-compassion are

linked to increased feelings of happiness, optimism, curiosity and connectedness, as well as

decreased anxiety, depression, rumination and fear of failure." I can appreciate my six-year- old taking the time with a favorite animal for regular honest conversations in the moment. Affirmations are an easy, free, and effective way to become more intimate with ourselves.

5. Affirmations have the potential to benefit humanity.

“Be the change you seek in the world,” “You can’t change anyone but yourself,” and “Put your

oxygen mask on first.” All of these quotes help provide the roadmap inward first as the way to

authentic power and evolution. This last one is what really moved us at Greener Thumbs to create a place where committed focus on affirmations and relaxation multiplied can make a significant impact on health and wellness globally. Holly and I have benefitted from our education and experience with these tools of transformation. We envision our community of affirmation leaders growing our greatness together.

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