When I teach workshops I always spend a few minutes on affirmations. It’s true, our words are powerful, but often the word alone is insufficient to produce desired change. Why?
The brain is very smart and doesn’t like to be called a liar. It likes proof. When you introduce affirmations (or anything new) into your life, your brain looks for proof, or facts, in order to make sense of the new information. Once it has proof it can then decide what to do with that information.
When using affirmations In your strategy for change, you are usually saying things that you don’t really believe are true in hopes that they will become true. For example, if you feel ugly and you’re trying to introduce a new belief like I am beautiful, it’s likely going to feel very uncomfortable, even deceitful to your brain at first because it doesn’t believe the statement is true. It needs proof in order to embrace that idea.
You can keep repeating the affirmation and hope that it becomes more comfortable, but often people just stop saying them altogether because they don’t experience the change that they’re hoping for. At least that’s what happened to me. I didn’t believe it was true. It was really hard to say. It didn’t change anything for me. So I stopped saying it.
No one explained to me that you can say affirmations all day long, but it you still have opposing thoughts they’re never going to work! Maybe I’m just slow, but I didn’t understand that. The pain associated with my looks was so deep and so profoundly embedded in my brain and heart that mere words without an understanding of how change happens in the head and heart left me deflated, discouraged and unchanged.
In order to get affirmations to stick a person needs to look for proof that the affirmation is true. This is one of the ways beliefs are changed. If you keep casting the affirmation out with proof that it’s not true, the affirmation will never bring results. You must look for proof that it is true. This can be difficult, so I suggest starting small.
If I am beautiful is the affirmation that you’re seeking to believe, start with something you like about yourself. Maybe you have great eyelashes or eyebrows. Proof! I have beautiful eyelashes. . .therefore I am beautiful. This can later progress to a more wholistic statement, as you are ready to embrace it.
It takes time to get words from our mouth into our brains and then the words in our brains down into the heart, where true change occurs.
Many times we attend classes and workshops where we are taught principles and techniques but the teachers fail to tie the techniques and the principles together in a way that makes them powerful. Those techniques, if understood more deeply, could produce positive results where many times they’re simply discarded, ignored and forgotten. Too many of us walk around with an arsenal of tools that are largely useless to us because we’re missing information. We don’t understand how to apply what we’ve learned in our own lives. Or we simply misunderstand timing and whether we are applying techniques at the wrong stage of our journey. Instead we assume the tools don’t work, therefore we continue to struggle and stall and feel hopeless.
But tools and techniques are powerful if we understand how they work and when to use them!!
If you’ve tried affirmations and they haven’t produced results, give them another try and this time look for, and state the proof you find. Also, try and catch yourself thinking or saying opposing statements. Reverse them by replacing them with the new truth you’re trying to re-enforce. Do this until you see change.
A word of caution. Don’t try and apply affirmations when you’re right in the thick of a crisis, or use them to deny something awful that has happened. In those moments it’s much more healthy, appropriate and powerful to acknowledge the truth of the matter with a simple statement about what has happened, then allow the body to feel it’s way through the crisis without judgment. Emotions must be felt. Don’t use affirmations as a form of denial or avoidance.