I’m Glad You’re Alive – On Affirmations and Literature

stumble-and-danceIf you wanna hear my story,
Then settle back and just sit tight,
While I start reviewin’
The attitude of doin’ right!

You’ve got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative and
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between!

Accentuate the Positive” by Johnny Mercer

affirmed-womanIn my social work years I attended a workshop where one activity made use of Jean Isley Clarke’s work on the affirmations needed for healthy development.  Ms. Clarke wrote Growing Up Again with Connie Dawson defining these Stages of Childhood: Becoming, Pregnancy to 6 Months; Being, 6 Months to 18 Months; Doing, 18 Months to Age 3: Thinking, 3 – 6; Identity and Power, 6 -12; Skill and Structure, 12 – 19; and Adulthood: Integration and Regeneration and the positive messages needed at every stage for growth. Working with people to reintegrate missed affirmations, we were told, could help those adults who had not been given these messages of support from their parents during their childhood.

affirmationsThe workshop leader gave out Ms. Clarke’s Affirmations. We were to select one. Then the participants formed two circles, one inside the other, facing inward. The people in the outside circle were to lean into the ear of the person in front of them in the inner circle and repeat the affirmation they had selected. Soft music played. Then they were to move round the circle repeating their chosen affirmation to the next person, then the next.

At first I was in the outer circle. The affirmation I selected was, “You can know who you are and you can be independent.” It was a teen affirmation, and fit what I often said to the women in the domestic violence survivor’s group I led at the time. I liked repeating it. It echoed with liberation.

baby-499976_1920-copy-2Then, it was my turn to move into the inner circle. People began to whisper their chosen affirmation into my ear. I liked all the affirmations, but was surprised by my reaction to one affirmation several people chose from the earliest stage, the stage of Becoming: “I’m Glad You’re Alive.”

It was stunning.  The first time I heard it I think I caught my breath, almost overwhelmed by the power of that phrase. I couldn’t see who said it. A few more people went around the circle and then I heard it again.  “I’m glad you’re alive!”   It echoed with love and hope.

Erik Erikson said, “Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain.”  I completely agree. The lesson I learned from that workshop has stayed with me to this day.  We all need to know meaning, love, and hope.

man affirmationEvery day I worked as a social worker I met those who were starved to know them, and would stay in abusive situations on the chance that someday they would have them. Without them, all too often, people chase after the nearest imitations.  For some that is power, or money, drugs, or sex. But substitutions are temporary, empty, and leave the soul still searching.

For me one thing that separates good books from great ones is how they show our human struggle with our drive to fill these needs.  In my favorites the heroes may chase imitations for a while, but ultimately they find their way to the genuine, and often help others find the way as well. So another secret about me revealed.  I am a hopeless romantic who likes to read about struggle but loves a happy ending.

In The Call my most flawed character has been a villain in the past and has hated himself for it.  He was lost.  But ultimately he is found because a healer named Misha offers him forgiveness and hope. If I ever get published perhaps you will get to meet him! But for now I am just glad you have found my blog worthwhile enough to have read to this point!  And while I do not know all of you well or personally I want to say to each of you, the world has a need for you, a place only you can fill, and I am glad that you’re alive to fill it.

About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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17 Responses to I’m Glad You’re Alive – On Affirmations and Literature

  1. Hscholar says:

    You have no idea how much this touched me. “The world has a need for you, a place only you can fill, and I am glad that you’re alive to fill it” Wow, I’ll keep that quote handy for daily encouragement. Thanks, I’m glad you are alive and inspiring us with your words!


    • joanneeddy says:

      Thanks, Melissa. I think that was one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever gotten. It means a lot that it touched you because that statement is a core belief for me, and something I wish we would all tell one another. Jo


      • Hscholar says:

        You are so right, Joan. We never know when someone is in desperate need of words like that. I know I needed to read that. Believing there’s a place only I can fill is tremendously encouraging. I now feel closer to living my call. Thanks again! -Mel


  2. So much need for the positive, thank you Joanne!


  3. Pingback: Another sideline « *His Space too*

  4. mariaholm says:

    Thank you Joanne for a very positive post. If you like I would ask you to guest blog on how to talk to people in crisis or difficult situations. A have asked a few others too as this subject has occupied me over many years.


  5. Bernadette says:

    Joanne, I hoe that your book gets published. We all need to read more books showing us the hero’s way through life. Your writing reminds me of a leader on a path with a lantern lighting it for the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      Thank you, again, Bernadette! That really is my goal for this year. I have used a version on your analogy in a post or two. When I left my job in Syracuse (after 25 years) to come to NC, I gave everyone who came to my farewell a parting gift. It was a magnet that read, “When you lift a light for another, you also light your own path.” I have tried to share God’s light with all with whom I have worked and served, and I have certainly been blessed as a result!


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