For years I have used Affirmations with a varied level of success. If you haven’t tried them yet, affirmations are a positive statements that you repeat to yourself while looking in the mirror. They serve as a reminder and an opportunity to set an intention about the kind of person you want to be. Affirmations became very popular when the book and following marketing campaign came out called “The Secret” and is still widely used.
How to write and use Affirmations
The simplest way to start writing affirmations is to write a series of positive “I am” statements that describe what you want to have or experience. “I am happy because”, “I am a confident, caring leader who” or “I am healthy in these ways”. Affirmations can also begin with “I’m thankful for”, “I know”, “I have”, “I appreciate” or “I love”. This is a great time to be creative and tie things together. Then in front of a mirror say the affirmations you have chosen.
Why do Affirmations Work?
In 2014 Geoffrey L. Cohen and David K. Sherman published a research report called “The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention”. They found that “By helping people to situate threats into a narrative of global adequacy, affirmations turn down the inner alarm of psychological threat. They thus lessen stress and self-protective defenses. Less encumbered, people can make better use of the resources for performance and growth in their social environment, in their relationships, and in themselves.” They discovered that “Timely affirmations have been shown to improve education, health and relationship outcomes, with benefits that sometimes persist for months and years by touching off a positive feedback loop.”
Why Affirmations don’t work
When affirmations work they can be very powerful, however recently I got curious as why they didn’t work. I found it was depended on my personal belief of what I was saying. By saying things we don’t believe we end up in an internal argument with our own beliefs and values. Basically it’s like picking a fight with yourself and I would find myself feeling worse which was not the intent. You can read more about values in a recent blog post. So you end up just going through the motions, it feels like lying or tricking yourself.
I started looking at other options and that’s when I found “Afformations”. They are very closely linked, just like affirmations they are grounded in being positive, however instead of making a positive statement, you ask yourself a positive question.
Instead of saying “I am loveable” (affirmation), ask yourself “Why am I so loveable? Why am I loved and supported at all times? Why do I love and accept myself? (afformations)
Take the affirmation “I am successful” to an afformation with “Why does everything work out for me?” or “why do I create success at every turn?”.
In the book “The Secret Code of Success” author Noah St. John says that afformations work because our minds are wired to automatically answer a question. You have likely felt this when a friend tells you about a struggle they are facing. We instantly start coming up with answers. Essentially, instead of trying to believe things we don’t believe, we are challenging our mind to find the answer. By allowing our mind to pull together the answer we are less likely to feel out of touch with the results.
Getting started with Afformations
Albert Einstein said “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
- Ask yourself what you want.
- Form questions which assumes what you want is already true.
So, which do I like more?
To be honest I like both and I have found a nice balance that works for me. For me afformations in the morning and affirmations at night. You see, in the morning with afformations, I am allowing myself to answer the question. My brain naturally comes up with more reasons throughout the day. Now, here is my favorite part, by the evening when I do my evening affirmations, I have developed an attitude of gratitude! I can look in that mirror and say it with confidence and love for myself.