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“The words you use are the instruments, channels, through which the creative energy takes shape.”
When Jennifer Lopez was turning 50, she decided to transform herself. She wanted to keep feeling young and powerful, no matter what age she was. In an interview at that time, she said how amazing she felt. She also explained that affirmations were a big part of her transformation and a big part of her everyday life.
So all I can say is, if someone as cool and famous as J.Lo can say affirmations, you can too.
The first thing to do is to forget all of the corny stereotypes you’ve heard about them. You don’t have to gaze at yourself lovingly in the mirror while you tell yourself sweet nothings for hours. You just have to start using them to change all the negative beliefs you have deep inside. They can be a practical, down to earth yet powerful tool.
Because, self talk is one of the ways our mind thinks. How much self talk does each of us have? We have a running commentary in the back of our minds going on all day long. It’s all based on the beliefs we have stored deep inside. I truly believe that if you want to conquer your worry and anxiety, you have to start saying affirmations.
I saw a post a week ago on Instagram that had ‘50 Ways to Beat Anxiety’. There were suggestions for all kinds of things on that list. And as usual, I scanned it to find suggestions that could really make a difference. Out of all 50, there was one little suggestion about affirmations. And do you know what it said? ‘Try affirmations.’ My jaw couldn’t have indignantly dropped open any closer to the ground.
Try? Try? What do they mean try? You try a new smoothie recipe. You try a new pair of
skinny jeans. You don’t try something that is at the core of how we operate. Ok, pompous rant over. But, you’ve got to work the way our minds operate in order to get better.
Besides being totally left out of advice like above, affirmations are notoriously known for being poked fun at through the years. They’ve also gotten a bad rap from people who say they don’t work. Do you know what I say to those people? “You’re doing them wrong!”
Then studies like the one I’m going to tell you about below come out and try to debunk them. I pulled this information right from my first book Simply Being Happy. When I looked at a 2009 research article written for the Association for Psychological Science by Joanne Wood, Elaine Perunovic, and John W. Lee entitled “Positive Self Statements Power for Some, Peril for Others”, they concluded that affirmations don’t work. But, something in that article stood out to me like a sore thumb. The authors stated, “Positive self statements can be construed as messages that attempt to change attitude in this case, attitudes about the self.”
Bingo! It’s the word attitude. The research subjects might as well have been trying to change their outfits that day with affirmations. The purpose of saying affirmations isn’t to try to change a person’s attitude. Our attitudes can change from day to day depending on the weather. Our attitudes are a result, they’re not the cause of our state of mind. The cause is our underlying beliefs and ingrained programming. Working on results is futile. You’ve got to get deep down to the cause.
The second reason I want to debunk the studies that try to debunk affirmations is because of what I’ve been saying all throughout my new book Finally Worry Free. It’s a numbers game. It takes lots of repetition. It took years for these negative beliefs about ourselves and about our world to get ingrained into our subconscious mind. And they’ve created strong habits. We all know how strong habits are. Intentionally changing them takes months and months and months hundreds and hundreds of affirmations. The participants in the study were not told to repeat their statements to themselves each day over several months.
A few more points on this study. The participants chosen were fairly random college students some with high self esteem already and some with low self esteem. Let me note that they were not people who were ready to make real lasting changes in their lives and who were determined to put the time in. They were not taught about their powerful subconscious mind and how to use affirmations properly to reprogram the self defeating beliefs that were holding them back. The participants also weren’t taught how to use visualization at the same time to see themselves as they would like to be. They weren’t told that affirmations don’t work at all without a person first believing them. They also don’t work if good, positive feelings aren’t used with them. A car can’t run without fuel. Affirmations don’t work without feelings.
They also were not taught how to meditate in order to get their minds into the right, relaxed states to input the affirmations at times. Just a note on this. Affirmations can really sink into your mind when you get your mind into an alpha state. But, it’s not necessary all the time.
They were also not told how pliable a person’s mind really is. And that their minds are not fixed forever. And they were not told that a person doesn’t have to accept old negative patterns, if he is ready and willing to put the time in to make positive changes in his life.
Enough about why people think affirmations don’t work. Let’s get into how to make them work for you.
Here are the basics of affirmations.
● Become aware of a negative belief you have. Let’s say it’s, “I am unsafe.” Many people with worry and anxiety have this belief, wouldn’t you say?
● Then, as we did earlier in the book, become aware of when you might have created this belief. This doesn’t mean you have to remember every experience you ever had when you were young associated with this belief. Just try and figure out, if you don’t already know, when it was formed, how it was formed, and how you keep perpetuating it through the years.
● Decide that you are ready to change it. Explain to yourself why it’s a false belief that you don’t need anymore. Give yourself a pep talk. And make it good. You’ve been holding onto this belief for so long. And our minds naturally want to keep proving that our beliefs are correct. So this belief, no doubt, has had a big hold on you for a very long time. No measly explanation will do here.
● Create a new belief. Make it a complete opposite of the old negative one. “I am safe and secure.” or “I am strong.” for instance. Make it so it feels good to you. Like you are
emphatically telling yourself something you wish you knew back then, but now you do.
● Speak it often to yourself all throughout your days. Write it out in your journal if you’d like. Write it on slips of paper and tuck them in different places where you’ll see them. Keep in mind that when you write it out and leave it around to see here and there throughout the day, your subconscious mind will take it in, even if you don’t pay attention to it.
Here are the four biggest secrets to affirmations.
This is what many people who suggest affirmations leave out of their advice:
● Believe: You need to believe the affirmation. If not, saying it won’t work. Let me give you an example. Say you need more confidence. That’s a huge one for many people. But, when you say, “I am confident.” you might not believe it. One of the things you can do is customize your affirmation. Change it to something like, “I am becoming a more confident person.” “I am determined to become a more confident person.” “Little by little, I am gaining confidence.” This will feel truer to you and so it will work . Eventually as this affirmation starts sinking in and replacing the old negative belief, then you can move up to other ones that you weren’t ready for before.
● Encourage: In the example above, can you see how talking to yourself and encouraging yourself can really help. Be your own best friend. Be your own affirmations coach. Many people didn’t get enough of this as kids. Give this gift to yourself now. You don’t have to have a full blown conversation with yourself in the mirror. Just sort things out and speak to yourself with as much love as you would a child.
● Feel: Our feelings are the jetpack that fuels our affirmations. Say them to yourself with lots of feeling. Feel them in your mind and body. Shout them to yourself like you’re a cheerleader on the sidelines of a football game. Be that cheerleader for yourself. No one has to know. Say them when you’re walking or jogging or exercising. Say them while you’re blasting music and dancing. Clap your hands, stomp your feet. Do whatever you can to give them the emotion and the energy they need to really overtake all the negative feelings you’ve had for so long.
● Repeat: 100 times a day is good. 1000 is even better. I’m sort of exaggerating but, not really. Remember how many thoughts we have a day. Just sneak them in whenever you can. You can also record affirmations into the recorder on your phone and listen to them whenever you can.
Other things to keep in mind:
● You always state affirmations in the positive. For instance, you don’t say, “I am not weak.” Instead, you say, “I am strong.” That’s because our minds don’t recognize the word not. But, they do recognize the word weak. So, you’re implanting that word when you keep saying it. There is an exception to this, though. If you use so much feeling and enthusiasm to your affirmations, even if it’s a negative phrase, your mind will register with your feeling more than the negative word and it’ll work fine. Feelings always trump everything else.
● You can find lots of affirmations online that you can start using. But, definitely learn to create ones just for you. You are unique and no one has your life, your memories, your beliefs, and your goals.
● Affirmations are not only good to say when you have downtime and you want to install them into your subconscious mind. They’re also good right in moments when you are feeling worried and anxious. Have a pep talk with yourself. Come up with an affirmation in that moment. Really feel it and add a lot of energy to it, so it will overtake your scary thoughts.
● Change your affirmations up all the time. Keep installing the tried and true ones and keep creating new ones especially as you are evolving and as situations come up. For example, if you’re starting a new job, you might want to create affirmations to help you with confidence in meeting new people, in your skills, and in your strength in new environments, for example.
● Add humor to them. We don’t give enough credit to having fun and making light of things. Studies prove how powerful this is for us.
● You can begin choosing words that allow you to hone in on certain strengths. Words like ambitious, independent, capable, energetic can all turn into personal affirmations for you. Shop around to see traits in other people that you admire and aspire to for yourself.
● Another good way to choose affirmations is to think about what might have been lacking in your family as a kid. Maybe it was showing love or giving respect, for example. Maybe stability was lacking in your life back then. You get to begin installing these feelings and qualities now. Combine them with beautiful visualizations of the new life you want to create for yourself. More about visualization in upcoming posts. The world is your oyster. You are not stuck with old family patterns. You can change them.
● Make affirmations a part of your life now. I personally am so programmed to say affirmations, that the minute I get in my car, I automatically create one for the ride. Same thing when I’m taking a walk or a jog or anytime I’m alone. I use them for everything and anything. To get my energy up; to change negative thoughts running through my mind; to get into a positive, appreciative mindset; to help me focus on and get excited about a goal; etc.
Thanks for reading!
Click here to get the paperback of Finally Worry Free on Amazon.