We have all heard the term affirmations tossed around, maybe even a bit too much. We might have become cynical about what they promise – too many smiling people claiming they have found the ‘secret’. Or we might be frightened by the prospect of ‘programming’ ourselves – seeing it potentially as brainwashing. In any case, if the idea of using affirmations hasn’t resonated with you – maybe it’s time to reconsider…
Affirmations at their essence are pretty simple. They are thoughts… But they are thoughts that we are consciously choosing.
Our minds are endlessly busy – with both conscious and unconscious thoughts racing through them nearly constantly. Research has shown that we have around 50,000 thoughts in a given day. That equates to about 300 thoughts per minute. Yikes.
The sobering fact is that research also tells us that there’s a good chance that 80% of those thoughts in our heads are negative. (And most of them are likely to repeat all over again the next day…).
We might not even be aware of most of our negative thoughts – we might perceive them as feelings. We feel sad or angry without necessarily being able to tie the feeling to a specific thought. We might also not ‘hear’ the judgments that run through our minds when we observe or experience something. Evaluating, comparing, criticizing... Some of our thoughts are long held companions – beliefs we acquired at a very young age, without even knowing it: Those tend to sound something like: “I’m no good at this”, “I can’t do that”, “I’m too this…I’m not enough that…” (Sound familiar?)
But you know what? All of it – every thought that races through, every word you speak, every complaint, every judgment, every emotion - is really an affirmation. All of our self-talk, all of our internal dialogue, is an endless stream of affirmations. So we are all really using affirmations already – just not to our best advantage. Yes, some of long-held beliefs work very well for us. (“Fire will burn me”, “Knives are sharp”, “Driving on the wrong side of the road is dangerous”) But other beliefs may be limiting our ability to create what we really want. (“That’s not fair! I never get a break”. “I don’t deserve it anyway”, “I’m too old (too ugly, too fat, too dumb, too unlovable)…” – you get the picture…
We are affirming and creating our life experiences right now with every word and thought – but the experiences are probably often ones where we feel like victims, taken advantage of, taken for granted, ignored, unloved – if we aren’t aware of our thoughts. What you think about forms your feelings, perceptions and experiences – and thus your reality.
Affirmations are designed to help us break the patterns, introduce positivity, become more aware of the negative thoughts – and start creating what we want. They have evolved out of the psychological discoveries of the 1970s where the beliefs systems and patterns of the subconscious mind and their impact on perception, behaviour and happiness began to be explored.
To affirm simply means to state something positively - to assert something to be true. When you say affirmations - or think them or even hear them, they become your conscious thoughts – there’s no room for anything else in your head at that time...
So if you are intrigued - start small – but with the right intentions. Find a negative thought pattern or belief you want to break. Maybe one of those ‘failings’ you feel you have had since childhood – but don’t even know why… Write out an affirmation to counter it – to make the opposite of your negative thought into a truth. If you find yourself thinking, “I’m not worthy” – maybe write “I am valued and cherished”. If you hear “Things are hard. I’m meant to struggle” in your head, maybe write, “My life is good” or “Things come easily to me” or “I choose to be joyful”. Speak your affirmation aloud two times a day – for five minutes at a time. Your sub conscious mind responds to positive present-oriented statements that it hears from you - as absolute truths – no questions asked.
Don’t sabotage yourself – if you affirm, “I am valued and cherished” and the next minute think, “This is stupid, it’s never going to work” – guess which thought will win? The one that has more energy and history behind it.
What you think and believe – right now – is a choice. It may not seem like that, since our patterns of thinking are so ingrained – but it is a choice.
It’s all about changing the patterns that were set before we were too young to know the difference. We do have a choice. Let’s choose happy…