Simple sticky notes are used everywhere. Their uses are endless, from studying for tests, writing shopping lists, and serving as bookmarks. These notes have changed my life. That may sound like a dramatic statement, but it is the truth. They have been a central part of my mental health, how I see myself, and my outlook on the world.
“I have found that speaking life to myself and my situation is not just helpful, it is absolutely necessary for getting through each day.”
How it started
When I was a teenager traveling the world, sticky notes were readily available and a staple school supply regardless of the country I was living in. Simply due to the access and convenience of it being a note that could be stuck anywhere, I began to use them to write memos to myself. Today I would call these memos mantras, affirmations, or proclamations, but as a child, they were simply words that I needed to remember about myself and my situation.
Why sticky notes?
I decided on using sticky notes to remember things, mainly because I could stick them to places where I could see them often and remember them. The size of the sticky note was just right. Not too long and not too short for my thoughts. I could rip them up when I changed my mind on what I needed to remember and they were inexpensive. I always journaled and loved my long entries, but sticky notes served a special role in keeping the most important thoughts in a place that was visible.
Words I needed to survive
I began to rely on sticky notes when I started writing down statements that I knew I needed to remember about myself. Very early on in life, I discovered that your thoughts are very powerful. Every written word is a thought expressed. For example, as a teenager, I knew that I was loved, but there were days that I didn’t feel loveable or capable of loving others fully. I wrote a simple phrase on a sticky note, “I love myself and all my flaws. I love myself. I love you.” This sticky note lived on my mirror where I would see it each morning. I began reading it and saying it to myself every time I saw it. This sticky note began to change me. The daily declaration of being loveable and being able to love others changed the way I viewed myself and my relationships. Even when I didn’t want to believe the words, saying them aloud began to shift my mood and my thoughts.
Slow and steady change
As I began to see the impact that writing phrases about myself and my situation, I started writing more. I never thought too hard or long about what to write, it usually just came to me. It was almost as if my mind was telling my heart the truths it needed to hear. Sometimes I would have just one sticky note that I focused on, and other times my mirror would be framed with many sticky notes.
If I had a sticky note I felt I really embraced and lived out, I’d toss it and make room for something new and relevant. Some notes have stayed with me through the decades because I needed that many reminders to incorporate the message into my life. I have some sticky notes that turned into life mantras. I’ve had to rewrite those notes a few times due to the paper falling apart. Those life mantras stay with me as something I continuously strive to internalize.
How does it work?
It might seem far-fetched that your thoughts can change your brain, but science shows that this concept is in fact true. Mark Walden and Dr. Andrew Newberg, co-authors of the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, explain, “By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action. And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain.”
The key here is consistency. What are you consistently telling yourself about yourself? Of course, we all have days that we can get caught in negative thoughts or talk, but what are you feeding your mind daily? I learned in my teenage years that I was not able to control my negative thoughts by just wishing them away. I began writing affirmations on sticky notes because it was the only way I knew I would remember and read the words. As I began to read the sticky notes out loud to myself, I could feel the shift in my mind. I got to a place of reading the sticky notes every day out of habit. The habit was producing positive results so I kept doing it. Before long, I could see the transformative power of this simple act.
How do you implement them?
If you have never written affirmations or mantras on a sticky note, it may sound out there, but think of it as using a sticky note to write a to-do list. Most everyone can relate to this task of writing down tasks so they won’t forget them, and writing down mantras or affirmations is the same. A to-do task is something you need to accomplish or complete, whereas a mantra or affirmation is something your mind needs to process, but both serve as a necessary reminder for an important task. It is easy to take care of the physical tasks of life with reminders and prompts, but our minds need to be prompted and reminded of truths in order to remain healthy. Life bombards us with unrealistic pressures and stresses and then we have our own thoughts that we have to weed through on top of it. I have found that speaking life to myself and my situation is not just helpful, it is absolutely necessary for getting through each day.
The act of writing down phrases and affirmations to feed my mind on simple sticky notes has changed my life. What started as a task of self-encouragement for survival as a teen, has transformed into a tool I use daily.