What a 7 Year Old Taught Me About Affirmations (and Life, In General)

My bonus son, James, is an amazing kid.

He is funny, kind, creative, and silly. James loves to draw and ask lots of questions. He also tries to answer those questions and I’m always amazed by his answers. We laugh a lot and he reminds me not to take myself and everything else so seriously (which I have a tendency to do).

When I first met James, we struggled. We were trying to find our flow and get to know each other. We struggled especially when it came to one of my favorite things in the entire world: food.

You see, I was vegetarian from 2008 to 2016. In order to make this experience more pleasant, I had to learn how to eat differently from what I had always known. This meant experimenting and getting way outside of my comfort zone and go-to foods (especially chicken -- I used to always order chicken at a restaurant. I reasoned that it’s really hard to mess up chicken).

Because of my vegetarian experience, I learned that I actually really like foods that I had never tried before (like hummus and quinoa). I also learned to like foods that were strange to me. For example, the first time I tried kale, I gagged because it tasted like grass. Now I love kale.

At the time, James was 7 years old. He and I butted heads when it came to food because he was a super picky eater. I know all you parents out there feel me -- there is nothing more frustrating than a picky eater. I tried to explain to him that I don’t eat nasty food. I like my food to be healthy AND delicious. However, it was really hard to make him try anything new.

Me: “Hey, James, want to try some hummus?”
Him: “No. I don’t like it.”
Me: “Oh, you’ve had hummus before?”
Him: “Nope. I don’t like it.”
Me: “Well, how do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?”
Him: “I don't know. I just don’t like it.”

After several go-rounds like this, one day I finally said, “Listen, I’ll make you a deal. Just try it. Like really try it. If you like it, that’s cool. If not, you never have to eat it again. But don’t not try it and then say you don’t like it if you’ve never had it. You’re gonna miss out on a lot of great stuff in food and in life with that logic.”

This was our first major win.

He nodded shyly at me in agreement and off we went. We started slowly at first: green juice (which quickly became superhero juice that all of the superheros drink to keep up their powers), asparagus, carrots, broccoli, etc. Turns out, little man loves vegetables and salads more than he loves meat. I can see a vegetarian experience in his future someday.

Fast forward to today, he’s now my go-to guy for trying new foods and restaurants (which I enjoy doing). When I wanted to try the local Ethiopian restaurant, James went with me. We both really enjoyed scooping our food up into the injera, Ethiopian sourdough-risen flatbread. We’ve tried Colombian, Japanese, Peruvian, Korean, Puerto Rican, and Cuban foods.

Me: “Hey, James, want to try some tostones and maduros?”
Him: “Yup.”                                                                                                                                          Me: “Cool. I’ll order us some.”

I’d say that out of everything we’ve tried, James has not liked maybe 5% of it, if that. He’s pretty much up to try anything because he knows that if he really tries it and doesn’t like it, he never has to eat it again.

James’ willingness to be open to trying something new has inspired me.

How often have I not really tried something and then shrugged it off as malarkey? How often have I missed out on a life changing opportunity all because I had never experienced it for myself or, even worse, someone else told me it was not any good?

The same goes for starting an affirmations practice.

Most people write off an affirmations practice as New Age bullshit and they’ve never really even tried it. When I say they haven’t tried it, I mean for more than just a couple of days. I’m talking about at least 40 continuous days of reciting affirmations and backing those affirmations up with action. I’m talking about refusing to let anyone or anything break their focus from the seeds they’re planting.

If we always quit something at the first sign of difficulty or challenge, we will never get very far. An affirmations practice asks us to really try, to really be open, and to really show up and do the work. If after giving it a real shot, you find that it didn’t work for you, then write it off as pure woo woo and bullshit.

I’m telling you, though, if you really really try it and give it your all, you will see a difference.

When you use an affirmation, you are thinking on purpose. When you think on purpose , you affect the way you view the world. When the way you view the world changes, you’re now able to see opportunity where you once only saw challenges, love where you once only saw hate, healing where you once only saw sadness.

I’m so grateful that James taught me that.

Now it’s your turn. Comment below and let me know what is stopping you from really starting an affirmations practice.

I’m cheering for you. Like you’ve just tried bandeja paisa for the first time.

From the Front Row,