An affirmation is a lot like a song that gets stuck in your head, only you choose to put it there. They are positive, life-affirming sentences that can, over time, change how you view yourself and the world around you.
Getting Started With Affirmations
Affirmations are phrases that you say or think to yourself regularly to create new pathways in your brain. They are mainly used to override thought patterns that aren't helping you get what you want. To see the best results they need to be a habit.
The One Thing You Want to Change
Start with one thing. That might be the most difficult part of this. Pick the thing that gives you the most emotional charge and seems the most irrational. Even if that ends up not being what you really want, it's what's getting in the way of your happiness.
Some advice about affirmations says just the opposite, to carefully think things through first. I think you need to engage the creative, impulsive part of your mind.
Here's an example: I want to make a million dollars and travel the world for a living. (I bet a lot of you are nodding right now.)
The thing you want to change might be big, but can you identify a small piece of it to work on affirming first? What is the main reason you are unable to change your mind about it?
Take a minute to look at what you think is holding you back. Go with the very first thing that pops in your head. That's important. That thought is your intuition giving you a clue where to start.
Let's see what that looks like using the example of wanting to make a lot of money and travel for a living. What is getting in the way of you having that? Is it something simple like “I can't make money”? Or “I'm not smart enough”? Find that basic core belief that's blocking you.
This is not the time to list all the reasons why you can't do it and then flip them into positive statements. I have done that. It's exhausting and takes way too much time. It didn't really work, either.
Instead, pick the most basic and obvious negative belief that immediately pops into your head when you try to affirm your big dream.
That negative thought, the one that you try to ignore all the time is the one you turn around and find a way to think about it in a positive light.
Let's try it with our “I can't make money” example above. The next step is not rocket science. Turn the negative into a positive – “I CAN make money.” Run that through your head like it's a viral TikTok tune. Put it on post-it notes, make a screensaver, or get a t-shirt made.
Stick with that until you can tell something has shifted. It doesn't have to be a big shift. This is where you have to pay attention to any little hint from the world around you that things are changing.
“I do not fix problems. I fix my thinking. Then problems fix themselves.”Louise Hay
Use Ordinary Language
I think one of the things that put people off about using affirmations is how formal they sound. It's hard to talk about yourself like you're a character in a Jane Austen novel.
The Path of Least Resistance
What we're doing with using affirmations this way is to follow the path of least resistance. Resistance is no joke. It will stop you in your tracks, sometimes for months or years even. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about if you're reading this.
It's a paradox (as these things often are) that the smallest rock in the dam that's keeping you from what you want is the hardest one to remove. But it's also the one that brings the whole dam down. It's like playing an inner game of Jenga.
Say Them Often
Either think it or say it as much as you can. If you find yourself coming up with variations that's okay. For some people, a very direct affirmation such as “I can make money” is the best because it's the easiest to remember.
I tend to start coming up with variations right away. To me, that's my intuition generating different versions of the underlying block in order to attack the problem from many different angles.
Visualization and Other Add-Ons
You can boost the power of affirmations by adding more layers to saying them, such as visualizing yourself as though the change has already happened. Being more ritualistic about it such as burning a candle or lighting incense can also deepen the process in your mind.
The only problem with that is that sometimes adding more tasks can become reasons not to do it at all. I think it might be more powerful to think about them in those moments when your brain is in between things.
You know what I mean – when you usually check your messages or check to see what's on social media. Like when you're standing in line or filling up the gas tank. Or those 2 minutes before a Zoom call starts. You get the idea.
I really think that dropping these new thoughts into your everyday routine is more powerful than stopping everything to make it a special event. The less effort, the better. Especially if what you're trying to change is something like procrastination, right?
How Fast Do Affirmations Work?
There is no hard and fast rule for this, unfortunately. Too many factors are involved. One of them is how many layers of resistance you have built up to getting to your end goal. You may have to work through all of that and that can take a long time.
It seems like affirmations for working on less important goals might have a better chance of working faster because there's not as much resistance to begin with. The same is true with picking things that
If you want to results from affirmations quickly try working on smaller changes, But if you have some time, go for the one that's at the core of everything as I outlined above.
From Negative to Positive Thinking
If you're reading this in a negative mental state, I know what you're thinking. The thought of being positive probably feels like a flashlight in your eyes after you've been in a dark room. It may even seem stupid to try and change your thoughts because the negative ones are based on the truth, right?
If you feel like that, now is not the time to try and do this the full Louise Hay way and try affirming “I am greeted by love wherever I go”. You can try it, but your resistance will probably be intense.
Try the simplest affirmation there is: “I am okay”. There are times in life when that's all you can do, but it works. That little phrase can get you out of some hard times.
Think Big, Start Small
There are a lot of different way to go about doing affirmations. I haven't even mentioned writing, vision boards, or listening to recorded affirmations with binaural beats in the background.
If you are looking for a slightly different approach, try it as I described above. Remember to think of the craziest thing you want to happen first, and then distill it down to its essence to become the affirmation.