“Why can’t I just tell myself a truth/affirmation and then really believe it?” someone might say. Well, there’s actually a neurobiological reason why this is the case for many people.
I went to a Havening training last year with Dr. Kate Truitt, a Havening Techniques Certified Trainer and expert on the connection between fear, information processing, and nervous system regulation; and she explained how jumping to affirmations (e.g. I am loved) sometimes doesn’t work because our brains don’t believe it due to past experiences. Our brains were created to protect us. So, if we have experiences in our past when the opposite has been confirmed (or we think that the opposite has been confirmed), it is understandably difficult for our brains to buy into an affirmation that doesn’t match up with our lived experience. Does that make sense??
With this neurobiological lens in mind, Dr. Truitt created a step-wise approach so that our brain (specifically, our amygdala) can gradually have buy-in and so we can, hopefully, ultimately experience a felt sense of these truths:
Select a truth or feeling state that you’d like more of.
- “What IF I was…?”
- “I can be…”
- “I will be..”
- “I am …”
~Dr. Truitt’s Havening Workshop, Creating Possibilities Protocol
- Dr. Truitt encourages us to “haven” while doing this exercise. Havening touch is when you utilize touch to help bring regulation to your nervous system— there are 3 motions involved. Check out Dr. Truitt’s video to learn exactly how.
- Notice the progression from “What if” to “I can be” to “I will be” to “I am”. Dr. Truitt reccomends to only graduate to the next statement until you mostly feel that the current statement is true.
- Having a posture of curiosity helps to relax our amygdala, thereby allowing us to be open to the possibility that these affirmations could be true.
Perhaps you are in a season where you truly believe affirmations about yourself when you remind yourself of them. (That is great. Sometimes we just need to be mindful of our truths to help and encourage us). If you notice in this moment that you are weary of accepting a truth about yourself, though, please know that 1.) you are absolutely not crazy, and 2.) you are absolutely not alone. There is nothing wrong with you— in fact, your brain is working hard to protect you.
If you are feeling up to it, why not try and see if this step-wise approach might work at least a little for you? If it works, amazing. And if not, then you’ll know to try something else.
I’m curious if anything comes to mind as you’re reading this? If you’d like to comment, of course please do!
Sending you inspiration, refreshment, and hope, Robyn
Note: This is a (fun) educational extension of my practice– and is for educational purposes only. It absolutely does not replace a therapeutic relationship with a therapist.
- check out Dr. Truitt’s website, or watch her video on Havening.
- check out the Truths section of this blog. There, in story-like fashion, I describe my experience with some truths and try to encourage you. You could try Dr. Truitt’s neurobiologically-informed method with them, too, if you want.
- When taking care of yourself, one of the most important things is that it work for…you! Not everything works for everyone. I have a self-care section on this blog, with all sorts of strategies you could try to help take care of yourself.