Watch Those Labels!


Do you find yourself observing life and labeling what you see as good, bad, or otherwise?

When most people think of affirmations, they think of POSITIVE affirmations. However, we can affirm a negative as easily as a positive. Whatever we focus upon and tell ourselves, or others, is a form of affirmation. How we FEEL inside when we say an affirmation gives us a clue whether it was a positive or a negative affirmation.

If a statement feels light and good to say, it qualifies as a positive affirmation. If a statement feels heavy and low vibration, then that would be a negative affirmation.

In fact, if you are often depressed or struggling to think positive, it is very likely you affirm more negatives than positives. Try reminding yourself to state more positives than negatives, and you will find yourself feeling better. Positive psychology research shows that a 3 to 1 positive to negative ratio is the tipping point for feeling happier¹.

We also affirm, either negatively or positively, when we apply labels to our situation.
This matters because our sub-conscious is ALWAYS listening and acting on what we are saying (aloud or to ourselves). The good news is that we can change what we affirm and change the outcome!

For instance, recently I arranged for a friend to take me to the airport so I could attend my mother’s funeral back East. I scheduled him to pick me up so we would arrive at the airport 90 minutes before takeoff, and I set my alarm 3.25 hrs before the pickup time.  Through a series of events about which I will not elaborate (I’ve learned not to expound on the frustrating stories), I managed to oversleep my alarm AND not hear the phone calls my friend repeatedly made when he came to pick me up. With the time to leave for the airport passing, I suddenly heard my phone ringing downstairs and it finally woke me up.

As you can imagine, I was in a state of panic and very vulnerable to labeling this situation a disaster when I realized I had overslept by 3 hours and could miss the plane if we didn’t leave as soon as possible. My friend is a Veteran, so his military training kicked in when he finally got me on the phone and realized I had only just woken up. To the degree that I was losing it, he was calm and collected.

He quickly parked his car in the culd-a-sac, and reassured me over the phone that we would take it one step at a time. My friend came in to help me take out the garbage, and lock up the suitcase before taking it out to the car. In my panic, shoving things in the suitcase, he suggested I postpone all non-essential actions, and put on my makeup while he drove to the airport.

When he took my suitcase out to his car, the local police were giving him a ticket for his back tire being more than 18 inches from the curved curb of the culd-a-sac (it didn’t look that far away, but I was still freaking out, in a hurry to get to the airport). This was just an unbelievable series of setbacks. My friend wouldn’t even had to park if I had been on time, so I made sure I gave him the money for the ticket.

Between my lateness and my friend dealing with the police, we were running 35 minutes behind getting to the airport.

As a side note, I am so *blessed* that I had opted for my friend to pick me up rather than a commercial car service! The latter would have called me once and left when I didn’t answer the phone the first time. My friend had patiently and repeatedly called and emailed over a 20 minute period. He even tried contacting me through Facebook, hoping to reach me. So, my best decision by far, in this scenario, was having the forethought to ask my friend if I could pay him (a single Dad) to take me there.

I hope you can imagine how frantic I was feeling, knowing how important it was for me to catch this flight. Fortunately, my friend was newly introduced to the teachings of Abraham. So, as we drove off toward the airport, he picked up on my efforts to positively label and affirm the situation.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me:(as my friend hands me the keys to my locked suitcase and starts his car) OK, we are going to get to the airport on time! (positive affirmation)

Friend: We’ll make it. (positive affirmation) Good thing you had mostly everything pre-packed. (supportive positive affirmation)

Me: Yeah, I did everything I could do in advance last night. Of course, I expected to have 3 hours to leisurely take care of the rest this morning. (based on the emotion I was feeling while saying this, it qualifies as a negative affirmation…this would have been better left unsaid)

Me: Time is malleable…it changes according to our beliefs about it. (determined positive affirmation reminding me why this was going to work out)

Friend: That’s right, it is! (supportive affirmation)

Me: I’m going to make this flight! (positive affirmation)

Friend: When is it your plane is taking off?

Me: 90 minutes from now.

Friend: Oh, then we’ll be fine! (positive affirmation) I’ve caught flights before with only 30 minutes to takeoff! (supportive affirmation)

Me: You have?!? Wow…ok, then I can relax! (supportive positive affirmation)

I must admit that as soon as he affirmed that he’d made flights with less time, I immediately felt the relief…and regained my ability to breathe normal.

And, indeed, I did get to the airport in time!

As I checked my bag, Security was to the left and past that, my gate was the first one on the right…and they were already boarding. I caught the flight, despite waking up so late, and I know that our positive focus is part of the reason why.

In my panic at the realization of how late I was, my brain wanted to label this a hopelessly BAD disaster. I was very vulnerable to falling into a trap of believing that all hope was lost, and letting my ‘label’ override other thoughts and drive other actions. It would have been easy to agree with ‘what is’after all, I *did* woke up 3.25 hours late.

But I am savvy enough to know the power of labels and affirming what I prefer rather than what is. I know that situations morph in seconds when we affirm with true feeling and conviction, and hold that truth in our hearts even when ‘what is’ is contradicting.

Keep in mind that I didn’t develop this skill overnight…I’ve been practicing affirming new stories for decades, and I’ve had many experiences where the seemingly *impossible* came together for me after I committed to affirming my preference.

Since our labels become affirmations for our life experiences, it’s good to pay attention to what you have been labeling good, bad, right, wrong, solution or problem in your life. There’s good news here, as labels and affirmations are not set in stone.

If you notice where your labeling has been holding you back, make the decision to change the label and begin affirming your preference over the appearance of “what is”. You’ll be amazed how quickly things morph when you recognize the need for a label change and consciously choose to affirm what feels better to you!

Do you have stories of where you changed your label of a situation, and things worked out well? I’d love it if you shared it below for others to enjoy.

P.S. While I was on the trip, I found myself telling the *story* of what went wrong with oversleeping and the police. After feeling the negative energy of that, I made the decision to drop the ‘what is’ negative story and refocus my attention on what went right.

When I returned from the trip, my friend confided that he really thought I had missed the flight, but he didn’t want to say that to me. Despite his *doubts*, he was willing to play along with my positive affirmations and even added comments that brought relief. I didn’t know he had doubts, though, so his support bolstered my own belief and alignment. Just goes to show, only one person really has to *believe* it’s possible!


¹Barbara Frederickson, PhD. coined this the Positivity Ratio. Learn more at


Image Credit: (tag) macgyverhh and (plane) Kirill Cherezov

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7 thoughts on “Watch Those Labels!

  1. Great article. Panic is such a terrible disease and is spread very quickly between people. Your friend by not voicing his true feelings about you being late did help, I think, because it allowed you to voice the reality you needed to see and have.

    At any rate your article concerning changing labels of situations is so true. I do some life coaching, and even changing one word of the clients situation from being a “problem” to being a “challenge” can be so helpful in centering the client on the fact that his problem is not unsolvable if he views it simply as a challenge.

    • From your NLP background, I am sure the idea of shifting language is very familiar for you, Ian.

      When my friend later told me he had serious doubts that I’d make my plane, I realized how powerful it is when just ONE person is willing to hold the space for different outcome. That’s what coaches do for clients, as well.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Many blessings,

  2. Nancy,

    That’s a great story and such a powerful example of refusing to buy into reality and choosing the reality you wanted instead. Love how your friend thought you were out of luck and you still made your flight.

    Also like your point about negative affirmations. I realized a few weeks ago that I’d been negatively affirming something not working out for years. Whenever I thought of it, it was always negative. LOL! No wonder I’d always gotten the result I didn’t want. Finally figured out I was doing this and things of course immediately turned around =)


    • Great awareness, Namaste, on how you’ve been negatively affirming with success. (To think these were holding you back all along when you thought affirmations didn’t work!)


      Combining your awareness of your negative affirmations with what you’ve learned about cultivating powerful positive affirmations, it’s not surprising that you’re having success! Keep up the great work!

      Many blessings,

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