"I always tell her to take a breather and to chant."
Dora Chhith's daughter Sadaya Paige was born with septo-optic dysplasia, a disease that causes the optic nerve and pituitary gland to be underdeveloped. Sadly, Sadaya was born completely blind in both eyes. She wears nonprescription glasses for protection.
Chhith told Good Morning America she realized something was different about her child shortly after her birth. "I was cradling her and I was just admiring her, you know, as a new mom, and I noticed that I've only been able to see the white part of Sadaya's eyes,” she said.
Twenty-four hours after alerting people at the hospital, she learned that Sadaya had septo-optic dysplasia. However, Chhith refuses to let her daughter’s disability hold her back in life, even though it causes considerable challenges.
"I always called her super magical. I often tell her she sparkles,” Chhith told Good Morning America. “I admire her so much because she never lets her impairment stop her from doing what she enjoys to do every day.”
To help her daughter make it through all of life's challenges, Chhith taught her a very simple chant at a very young age: "I'm smart, I'm beautiful, I'm confident, I'm independent. And I can do anything I put my mind to."
"I've instilled it into her since she was about 8 months onward,” she told Good Morning America. “And if at any time Sadaya has a meltdown, I always tell her to take a breather and to chant that."
According to science, Chhith's affirmation should be a major help to her daughter. Affirmations are an effective way to shift one’s focus from their perceived inadequacies to their strengths.
Heathline says creating a mental image of yourself doing something actually activates “many of the same brain areas that actually experiencing these situations would.”
By making the affirmation a regular part of Sadaya’s day, they become more effective. When we regularly repeat positive affirmations, our brain begins to take them as fact. The same works for negative self-talk, so we all have to be careful how we think about ourselves.
The key is to have positive affirmations that we either believe or accept as possible.
“Where I see most people having difficulty with positive affirmations is when they are trying to make a positive self-statement about something that they really don’t believe is true,” cognitive psychologist Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today. “This is because the brain generally resists large leaps in thought.”
Chhith's affirmations are a great way to teach her daughter to overcome the many challenges that come with being blind. They are also a great example for parents who have children with or without disabilities. We all have our unique challenges and affirmations are a wonderful tool to help us persevere.
"I feel like there shouldn't be any stereotypes of a person being blind. They're able to do anything and everything a person with sight can do,” she told Good Morning America. “Even though it may be difficult—this is how she falls, this is how she gets back up."