Some people swear by affirmations. Napoleon Hill, the father of Positive Mental Attitudes everywhere, said “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” “Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how the world steps aside to let you pass”. He knew that wanting something isn’t enough, you have to get your subconscious to want it as well. And believe it can happen. That is why affirmations do not work for me. Affirmations set off the liar alarm loudly any time I try to slip one in. It was an idiom saved my ass.
It was the summer of 2014. The summer of the Bed Bug Scare. I was a summer camp art counselor trying to cram a school year’s worth of art projects into a 5-week period. In the middle of it all I got a call from our apartment building’s super saying our neighbor had bed bugs. Picture the zoom-in pull-out camera trick they use in movies. This was the one event that could unhinge my mind. Anyone who has dealt with lice, or any condition making you dinner for parasites, will understand. I prepared for the invasion as an army would. In an exhausting march to the laundry room, I cooked anything and everything I could in the driers and sealed it all in giant ziplock bags while vacuuming every crevice of the apartment and furniture. All while picturing bugs, that I had only seen pictures of on the subway in ads, crawling all over me. It’s a valid form of torture. The one thing keeping me from a break down was the phrase Happy Camper running through my head. Happy Camper, I’m a happy camper… It worked because it was funny. I would alternately picture a kid sitting in the rain in a poncho, uncomfortable, on the worst camping trip ever. Or me camping, making do, like a true pioneer. It worked. I survived the camping trip. I got through it without a drinking problem. I did down a few pints of ice cream and a beer during that 1st week. The threat retreated and at some point at the end of the summer, my husband made me unpack the giant plastic bags. Not fun. I would have happily lived in a hermetically sealed apartment but the rest of the family wanted their clothes back. Happy campers.