Anxiety, Affirmations & Yaro

affirmationsThis is the first time I have written about Yaro Starak, although he is probably someone whose work I have read more than anyone since I started this blog. Yaro writes about blogging – so whilst of interest to me, I have assumed he won’t be of interest to anyone visiting this site. If you do blog, Yaro has a free blueprint which is worth reading – I can also recommend his Blog Mastermind course when he next runs one.

I mention him, because I happened on one of his posts from 2006 called The Key to Happiness. Yaro doesn’t normally venture into self improvement posts, but I found it quite an eye opener. By accident, rather than design, my recent posts have all featured successful people who had overcome various adversities in their youth. I now found out that Yaro had suffered from panic attacks in his late teens and early twenties.

Anxiety related problems sometimes get short shrift in the media, as we all get anxious at times. Our physiological make up has programmed in a fight or flight response, so our body can get suitably “prepared” if confronted by danger. Unfortunately, this hasn’t evolved over the years to take on board that usually most of us don’t encounter life threatening danger – tigers and other wild animals are now enclosed in cages.

Most of the “danger” we encounter is generated by our thinking, or is verbal rather than physical. But our body still reacts as if it needs to “fight” or “flight”. An extreme, but not infrequent, result of this is panic attacks. Several sufferers have told me that it feels like they’re about to die. Their body systems go into over drive and at worst they feel unable to breath.

What impressed me about Yaro’s post was his journey into overcoming panic attacks. Recognizing that his then current self talk was a major part of the problem, he embarked on “positivity training”. This is Yaro’s name for tackling his negative thinking – his negative affirmations.

One of my frustrations is that using affirmations seems to be only linked with using the “Law of Attraction” – even the affirmation software I have uses that in its promotional material! Personally I don’t have any such belief, but do believe positive thinking and positive affirmations are vitally important. So does Yaro:-

Some people scoff at positive affirmations and consider them useless but as anyone who has had panic attacks will tell you, at the root cause of them are the opposite – negative affirmations. As a result of spending most days thinking negatively and repeating self-talk that beat myself up my body reacted with panic attacks. In your case you may not have the same reaction as I did, but if your self-talk is negative it’s holding you back from achieving your dreams and can certainly be a cause of things like depression, feeling like you have no control over you life and an inability to feel happiness.

Yaro describes how gaining control over his thinking to get over his panic attacks. He also explains that this effort has also helped him “day to day”, as he is mentally stronger to combat negative thoughts – or negative affirmations:-

As a result of that experience I gained a very powerful skillset – the ability to control my thought process. The benefits of being able to do this go way beyond helping me deal with panic and anxiety – I can now control my emotional state by changing the way I think.

If we start thinking of negative thoughts as negative affirmations, we might take the use of positive affirmations more seriously. We forget how often we absorb negative messages throughout our day – in effect we are constantly giving ourselves negative affirmations.

As Yaro says “By changing the dialogue in your mind you become the greatest life coach you could ever have“. If you want to build great self confidence you need positive affirmations, not negative.

We all use affirmations during the day – whether or not we call them that. You can chose to use positive ones instead of negative. You can take time out to create and write out positive affirmations that you think will be helpful – affirmations that reinforce what is good about you and your life, and what you are looking to become and achieve. You can use affirmation software, audio tapes or photo boards to help.

Yaro suggests monitoring yourself throughout the day to identify how you “self talk”, to what extent you help or hinder yourself – or mentally beat yourself up. Try it – you may shock yourself into doing something about it.

photo by kiolero on Flickr

Evan January 25, 2008 at 10:25 am

Who decides what is positive and negative?

Reactions inappropriate to the present may give important information about past trauma. Ignoring which doesn’t help.

Evan’s last blog post..Four Simple, Little Things to do for Big Health Benefits

Robert @ reason4smile January 25, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Hi David, great post,
I often listen to Joyce Meyer podcast, the author of Battlefield of the Mind.

Watching our thoughts are very important, Joyce Meyer always say, think what you think about everyday. If it’s negative, we need to change to positive…

Great post!

Robert @ reason4smile’s last blog post..It’s your discovery day!

JoLynn Braley January 25, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Hi David, I also believe in the power of affirmations, in fact everything we think is an affirmation if we think it over and over….whether it’s positive or negative!

Thanks for this post, I hadn’t read that Yaro suffered from panic attacks. I’m glad he shared that, and that you wrote about it here! 🙂

JoLynn Braley’s last blog post..The George Foreman Grill – My New Best Friend

Cheryl January 25, 2008 at 4:59 pm

I have battled with waking up almost every morning with thoughts (usually negative) racing through my head about everything I haven’t gotten done and all the people I have to deal with and everyone who wants something from me and on and on and on.

Instead of laying there beating myself up anymore, though, I have a meditation mantra that I repeat over and over again to help quiet my mind. When this doesn’t work, I get up and write.

Evan, it’s true that ignoring our emotions, which can be either negative or positive, is not helpful. The great thing is that our emotions are always telling us if we’re on the right track and we can choose to stay in a negative frame of mind or change it. We have that power, even when we are working through past traumas. In fact, this has helped me work through them more quickly, but it took a little while to get there.

Cheryl’s last blog post..Retirement for the Rest of Your Life

On Living By Learning January 25, 2008 at 5:13 pm

This is great advice to keep in mind as I venture further into writing and homeschooling. After the honeymoon period is over, in any project, the negative affirmations counsel you to quit, i.e. take flight.

I’ll try to let the positive affirmations reign supreme. Thanks for a valuable post!

On Living By Learning’s last blog post..Homeschool Quarterly Report 2nd Grade

Never the Same River Twice January 25, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Hello, David. I feel like I’ve suggested this about a million times lately, but it’s worth repeating.

A great technique for staying mindful of your thoughts is to wear a rubber band or bracelet on your wrist. Every time you catch yourself thinking negatively, move it to another wrist. Just that simple act will focus you on positive thinking.

Never the Same River Twice’s last blog post..7 Things to NOT Do If You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

Karen (Karooch from Scraps of Mind) January 26, 2008 at 12:28 am

Thanks for this David. I have someone in mid to pass it on to who should get a lot of benefit from it.

Karen (Karooch from Scraps of Mind)’s last blog post..Five Freebies on Friday 25 January 2008

David January 26, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for all your comments.
Evan – if anyone does have “emotional baggage” that is causing the negative thinking, then trying positive affirmations won’t do any harm. If any attempts to get on top of your thinking hit barriers, then seek professional help. Yaro himself admits he was helped by supportive parents, including a mother who was a counsellor.
I agree with your point Maria, I have often suggested people use elastic bands or similar techniques to break off from negative self talk. I know I have written about it, but cannot remember which post.
Good luck Cheryl, you seem to be making very positive efforts to facilitate change.

Nick Grimshawe February 1, 2008 at 6:59 am

Hi David,

What an excellent post. I have never thought of negative thoughts as negative affirmations but you are right. When you think of them that way it just gives you another handle to wrestle them with.

Listening to your internal dialoque is so important in changing your thought patterns. I’ve found over time, the more I practice, the better I become, at spotting negative affirmations. As you progress you begin to find the really deep seated ones. I am always amazed by this.

I use to have trouble with negative dreams. Then one day when I woke from a particularly bad one, I stopped and tried to figure out how I could restate it in a positive light. The moment I started doing that the number of negative dreams I had started to drop off rapidly. Now I almost look forward to one because of what I learn from putting a positive spin on it.

Anyway, enough of all of that.

Just a great article, and the links too. I will be following up on those.


Nick Grimshawe’s last blog post..Quote by James Allen about Vision

Liz September 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Interesting post. I also don’t believe in positive attraction, but I do think that positive affirmations can be incredibly helpful in dealing with anxiety. Part of what is so toxic about anxiety is the spiral of negative thoughts that keep reinforcing it. Positive affirmations can help break that spiral.

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