Why do affirmations get a bad rap? I think for two reasons: people use them in a way that seems fake, or they try to force positivity over a negative situation.
I don’t use them that way. I have found them quite useful, but only if used with certain understanding in mind, which is that they are about affirming what is deeply true underneath the false-self, not covering up anything or creating a new “only-positive” false self.
I am a big fan of affirmations because:
- You get an immediate smiley feeling when you find the right one to say and really let it in.
- They work. They reprogram your brain, slowly but surely. They work at the underlying level of reconnection to Self which everything else springs from.
- They are pure statements of will, and thus underscore our ability to create our own reality.
The first affirmations I started with were about 5 years ago and they were just “I love myself” and “I am lovable”. At the time, those were hard to say, hard to believe. But I tied it into something I did believe, which was that I was a divine creation of the universe, so ipso facto, I just had to be lovable.
I would imagine myself as a child and think “All children are lovable…therefore I am still lovable. I am still innocent”. I would also remember that even as a child, the craziness of the people around me made no sense to me. I would sit in my room and think, “But I’m good. I’m a good person.” So even then there was a part of me that would reject the idea that the abuse was my fault.
So with the affirmations, I would reach down into myself to that part that was still whole and connect with that. By doing this, I strengthened that part.
The purpose of affirmations is to strengthen the part of ourselves that already knows we are beautiful and strong and good.
That part gets covered up and suppressed by abuse, neglect, and our culture of achievement and comparison. We have to take an active part in uncovering it if we want it back.
When we create and say affirmations, we are connecting with our inner truth. Therefore it is important to declare things we know to be true on some level. If you say “I am enough”, that is true, even if you don’t feel it completely yet, you know that it is true on a spiritual level.
If you can’t get to a place of believing an affirmation at all, I would suggest starting with an affirmation that you can feel a sense of truth about. The reason for this is that if you say things that aren’t true, you will be contradicting yourself and the affirmation won’t do any good.
I don’t think it works to say things like “I have a million dollars” if you don’t. This does not connect you to your inner truth. It just sounds like you are lying to yourself.
All spiritual transformation is based on integrating a deeper or more expanded truth.
The secret of affirmations is that they need to be based on truth for their power to work.
If you read an affirmation that someone else uses successfully, but it doesn’t ring true for you, don’t use it! Write your own that does ring true. It’s that ring of truth that lets you know that it’s a powerful affirmation for you and will work.
Affirmations are based on the word “affirm”, which means “to declare something as true”. It is meant to be a powerful declaration of what is already true, to remind yourself of it and cut through the BS in our ego/mind/head that keeps us from the wonderful time we could be having.
So instead of “I have a million dollars” try “I have everything I need”, and connect to that sense of “enough” in your body. After all, what you truly want isn’t “a million dollars” – what you want is that delicious sense of security, freedom, and well-being that you imagine you would have if you had a million dollars. So why not start feeling that now? Try “I am safe and free” or “I am creating the life I choose.”
Find strategies that work for you so you actually do them.
Some people suggest writing affirmations over and over and over and over or taping yourself listening to them. Frankly that’s all too much work for me. I do various things that work for me:
- I write them on post-its and put them on the fridge, bathroom mirror, or next to my bed – somewhere I see periodically but not for extended periods, that serve as a reminder. When I see it, I take a deep breath and say the affirmation inside or out loud. I bring up the feelings I want to feel connected to that affirmation: joy, safety, well-being. I also tap my heart when I say this, as that helps it get into your body.
- I have a notebook next to my bed of affirmations and at night before I go to bed I take some time to write down new ones. I’m not a fan of writing the same one over and over – that was a punishment in elementary school for chrissake. Instead I make up new ones. My ones from last night are:
- My true self is stronger than my ego. (I’ve been working with the I Ching a lot lately – Carol Anthony’s version).
- I love without reservation the beauty and goodness in others. (this one I modified from “I love without reservation” – I’m not quite there yet!)
- There is a Divine plan of goodness for my work. (This is from The Artist’s Way. I wasn’t able to say this a year ago. Now it comes easily. I’m so happy about that!)
- I hand my life over to the good, to God, and let go of the future.
- I trust the Unknown. (also inspired by the I Ching).
- I care and am cared about.
- I love and follow the true and the good.
- I am innocent and free.
- There is one affirmation, from Louise Hay, that is the most powerful affirmation that I’ve ever worked with and I have made it sort of a personal mantra. It is “The point of power is always in the present moment.” It reminds me I can always change my life, starting now. (I highly recommend checking out Louise Hay’s books and cards.) So when you find a great affirmation that really works for you, memorize it!
- I am big fan of those decks of affirmation cards. They are great places to get new ideas for affirmations — sometimes a person’s wording is just really powerful, and if you are visual the artwork can add to your whole affirmation experience. Louise Hay has some, and Shakti Gawain as well. I also like the cards from the Four Agreements series.
Above all I encourage you to find the strategies that work for you. If writing them over and over works, by all means do it! It certainly worked for Sondra Ray and other people who write about that technique. And it can be a powerful way to bring up your counter-intention (all the negative beliefs you have, which you can then make new affirmations to counter-act).
I hope this has given you some ideas on how to use affirmaitons for yourself. What has worked for you?