Affirmation Reflection: Stay Open and Curious

I’m a big fan of affirming oneself; I believe that when we stand in our own truth, we unmask our inner greatness, our inner strength and our hidden gifts and potential.  Recently, while reviewing the Be Strong Families Living the Protective Factors Affirmation Deck, I came across an affirmation card that spoke to me; it said, “Stay Open and Curious- When fear threatens, I concentrate on seeing more options and waiting for more possibilities to emerge.”  It really made me reflect on the past few years, what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed.

For me, there was a time in my life when being curious came so naturally. We see this quality in children every day; curiosity gets the best of them. An item seen a thousand times, can still somehow be unique. This is a time when every problem has a simple solution. Remember when imagining came so easily? Possibilities were endless and there was rarely an opportunity for boredom. As a child, I remember playing “war”, and all the neighborhood kids gathered around, and the fun would begin. Two sides of the playground fought till there was no soldier left. Since the boys wouldn’t allow girls to be soldiers, (addressing this topic is for another blog…) I’d decided to be a nurse and any wounded soldiers would be rescued by me. Suddenly, pebbles and sticks became healing stones and magic wands. The “wounded” were magically healed. Talk about endless possibilities.

The beautiful part about this type of curiosity is there are no restrictions. My childhood was nowhere near perfect, but despite reality, nothing stopped me from getting away and seeing the world differently. Jungle gyms became ships, trees became towers, and sticks became magic wands. No problem couldn’t be solved. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always see the world like that anymore; and, well, I miss it… Over the past few years, I’ve tried to change this, but for a while I was stagnant. I struggled to see a solution at all, much less an unimaginable one; and new opportunities were passed by for more practical or simple options. This development became even more severe when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My body’s automatic need for melancholy and glum gave way to isolation, where my nearest friend was a blanket and the most recent Netflix show I’d binge-watched. Life seemed dark, lonely, and empty; even when I had supports around me. It felt as though I’d lost my curiosity. Whether they span a lifetime or are short lived, I think many of us have moments like this.

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For a long time, I beat myself up about my depression. These thoughts of what could have or should have happened kept creeping up. I’d let fear take over and it kept me from seeing the possibilities around me. I let insecurity and doubt cloud my thoughts. Nothing was new or unique, because nothing stood out. It was like living life in grey scale; nothing is as vivid as when it was in color. I needed to see the beauty around me again. I needed to be open to the idea of whatever solutions came along and know that sometimes, even when it’s out of my comfort zone, I can say yes, and things will still be okay. I started with an evaluation of what was already there. I looked at what Strengthening Families Protective Factors ™ I was already living: Resilience – being strong and flexible- realizing just getting up each day was a triumph; Social Connections—though my social circle was small, I still had friends and family to support me; and Concrete Support – everybody needs help sometimes. I reached out to my primary care doctor and a therapist. Both people helped me make plans for how to tackle each of my current challenges. So, I started to give things a chance, I said yes when I wanted to say no, and I pushed myself to try things I wasn’t even interested in. By no means was this revolutionary. At times, I hated that I’d said yes because I leaned toward wanting to be isolated, being with people didn’t always seem ideal. Over time though, I won’t lie, it brought me joy! A joy that I hadn’t felt in some time. That joy is contagious. It makes you want to come back for more. There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is triggered by some outside force, it’s an “in the moment” feeling. Joy, in contrast, comes when you have come to terms with who and what you are. You accept yourself as the person you are. By allowing myself to say yes—by being open and curious to people, ideas, thoughts and many other processes, I became aware of who I was. I learned that sometimes I’ll be sad, and I will not know why and that’s okay; because I’ll also be happy, lonely and connected, zealous and lazy too. I don’t have to feel only one feeling or be one thing to be the amazing person I am. I just need to affirm myself.

Over time I found my curiosity. I’m still building on it, but I have a much more positive and reassuring outlook on life and what life could/ can be. It also helps me to let other people be curious. I get to be vulnerable, explore new possibilities for solutions and know that nothing will steal my joy. So, I ask you, do you know where your curiosity is? What brings you joy? Are those two connected with each other? How do you affirm yourself? Be Strong Families Living the Protective Factors Affirmation Deck, is a unique resource. These cards offer a person the tools they would need to nurture the spirit of their family, promote well-being and peace.  If you’d like to learn more about these, and other resources Be Strong Families offers, click here.


Article by: Candace Hinkle, Communications and Marketing Manager