Updated: Oct 25, 2018
Do you use affirmations in your life? I think a lot of people have come across the idea of using affirmations, and perhaps do, without truly understanding how to use them to transform their beliefs and resulting experiences.
Saying affirmations to yourself in the morning, or before an important presentation or meeting can help you feel better and change your approach to the day or event in that moment, and this is a good thing! Use it as much as you can! Striking a power pose and fist pumping an inspiring statement out loud can work magic on your energy and your attitude.
At a deeper level, affirmations help to shift core beliefs. This takes more effort and time but creates lasting transformations because these core beliefs form the foundation of who we are, how we see the world, and how we show up in that world.
Let’s look at definitions. What is an affirmation? “the action or process of affirming something” (thank you online dictionary, please elaborate!). So, what about affirm then?
“Affirm: to state something as true” (Cambridge English Dictionary)
True…what is true? Why do we believe something is true? Without getting into a deep philosophical discussion, here are some of the reasons I can think of, off the top of my head, that we believe something is true. We believe something is true if:
Someone in a position of authority told us it is true (mother, father, teacher, religious leader, government leader, media…)
We have seen it with our own eyes.
Our past experiences have shown it to be true.
Objective research has shown it to be true (e.g. sciences).
And yet, in each of these cases I can easily come up with exceptions.
Different cultures teach their young people different things are true
Our eyes and our brains filter out and modify what we SEE on a regular basis (look to magic, or eye witness accounts)
Our past doesn’t dictate our future or no one would ever beat a personal best, conquer fears, etc.
Research always includes assumptions which may change as more information becomes available
In the case of using an affirmation, and the right affirmations for real change, YOU have to create the belief that what you are stating is true. Because it’s all about YOU! And no one can even imagine what you are capable of!!
And so the real inner ‘work’ is in creating the belief that what you are affirming is in fact true. This can be uncomfortable because you will probably have to disregard what appears to be true for YOU to create the YOU that you desire. Your learning and experience to date may indicate that:
It’s a struggle to be self-employed and you can’t make a decent living doing X, I’ve seen my friends try and quit, I’ve been at it for a year now and I’m no good at it, 90% of businesses fail in the first 5 years so why don’t I quit while I’m ahead…
Relationships are toxic, everyone we see is already a couple, there are no good men/women out there, I’m already older than the average age of a man/woman to marry so what’s the point…
ACTION STEP: What do you believe about YOUR goals and dreams? Brainstorm all of your beliefs and then give them a check mark or an x mark – serving you, harming you. Now look at the x mark beliefs…why do you believe this to be true? Write down an exception to each to demonstrate that it may in fact not be true.
To be successful at whatever your goal is these current thoughts and BELIEFS that aren’t aligned with what you want will have to change! Affirmations are one piece of the solution to changing these beliefs - if you phrase them well, knit them together with emotion, and say them a lot and often.
A belief is really just a thought we think a lot – and so we need to start thinking different thoughts. And think them again, and again, and again. Repetition is the key to learning and so you need to keep at it! That’s one place where people slip up, they give up too soon or they practice sporadically.
No one believes they will consistently sink the basketball into the hoop without practice. Or even learn their multiplication tables for that matter! Practise makes progress! The repetition of the affirmation – the new thought and belief – is reprogramming you mind. But you have to get the attention of your subconscious mind.
Intellectually you may say you believe your affirmation – that it is true for you – but until you start to believe it emotionally your subconscious mind won’t take notice. And since it’s in the driver’s seat, we need your subconscious mind’s attention. How do we get it? By getting emotionally involved with your affirmation. State your truth, your affirmation, with elevated emotion – really get into it!
And dig down to get to the tap root of whatever negative or alternative belief you are transforming. Counter that weed directly by reframing it to target it at its core! For example, using an affirmation like “I am enough” is something everyone can say, but if we dig down deeper there will be a reason YOU believe you aren’t enough. And that reason will be different from his, and her’s – not smart enough, not pretty enough, not young enough, not fit enough, not rich enough, not…what? Finding and reframing that belief is critical because it is these core beliefs that are woven throughout your subconscious programming.
ACTION STEP: Which of your x mark beliefs make you most uncomfortable? Check in with your body. Say each out loud and see what you feel? The one that makes you feel the most anxiety is the one to change first. It may be the hardest to change but you will get the most return on your affirmation investments!
The reality is that even if you don’t consciously use affirmations to direct your conscious and subconscious minds, in fact you do because you have patterns of thought that repeat, that loop, throughout your day. The song of you that keeps playing over and over again in the background… If the song isn’t uplifting, change it, and your core beliefs will start to shift and form a new beautiful melody that will change your life.
ACTION STEP: How can you reframe that x mark belief ? What is its opposite? Imagine talking to a good friend - what would you say to her/him? Create a statement of truth using positive language and in the present tense. Now write it out for a full page, the same thing, again and again.
ACTION STEP: Take the time to actually DO these exercises and commit to saying your affirmation with emotion every day for 30 days.
Want success insurance? Join me on November 7 to find that core belief you need to change and create the perfect affirmation for you to change it!
Check out the workshop info here and sign up today! --> https://bit.ly/2EEQyj1
Lisa Hardess is an accomplished coach and consultant who has worked with adults, children, teams and communities to support the transformation of their professional and personal lives using a combination of critical mind shifts and strategic action planning. Lisa has worked in consulting, education and not-for-profits with people in groups, workshops, and one-on-one for over 15 years. She has a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Education, a Master of Science in Planning and Development. Lisa is a certified Thinking Into Results consultant with the (Bob) Proctor Gallagher Institute.