Affirmations: How They Work and How to Write Effective Ones
It could be said that the main force fueling effective affirmations is belief. If you are someone who is hard put to believe in anything, you can still make your affirmation work for you. Perhaps the following seemingly foolish questions can serve to illustrate why this is so.
Let us suppose that right now, you are seated or reclining on a chair, couch or a bed. Did you examine that furniture for soundness before throwing caution to the winds and settling yourself in? Are you presently wearing a hat molded of aluminum foil as prevention against mind control by extraterrestrial and/or government operatives? The last time you checked the time, was it in order to see what time it was, or to ascertain whether or not time was still moving forward?
Suppose your long and unremarkable history of furniture use has produced but little peril, and so, sanguine, you sat. Suppose you do not bother with indoor metal headwear because you believe that conspiracy theories are only that, or, that, since government and/or alien researchers have passed you over as a subject thus far, that they will continue to do so. Also, suppose you believe that clock time follows a simple Newtonian forward surge. If any of these suppositions are even approximately true, than you have already demonstrated the type of belief that can easily fuel an effective affirmation.
This type of belief automatically flows from the tendency of the mind, especially in its sub- and unconscious functions, to believe in and to adore consistency of experience. In a word, the mind loves sameness.
For obvious reasons, we prefer chairs to be sturdy, government and aliens to confine themselves to tax collection and crop circle design and time to follow timetables. (Perhaps that is why variety is called the “spice of life.” If sameness were sprinkled paprika-like atop a noodle base of the unexpected, most of us might be disoriented much of the time.)
All around us, there is continuous phenomenal and noumenal movement and change, and yet, we manage to perceive sameness. Given the constant flux of sights, sounds, smells, textures, movement, temperature and ideas streaming over and through us from one moment to the next, it is almost a miracle of mind over matter when one of us achieves an interlude of boredom. How do we do this? By blocking most of our sense perceptions from conscious awareness. This gives us a chance to engage in analytical thinking, to plan our careers and our lunches. To understand why people involved in mystical experiences rarely worry about lunch, try this experiment:
Relax your mind, so that you have a consistently diffuse awareness of everything around you. Notice colors, movement, sounds, temperature, textures, smells, and notice them changing from moment to moment without noticing any one sensation in particular. Imagine yourself as the area of consciousness through which all of these colors, sound waves, odors, breezes, sensations of touch and of warmth and cold are passing. Feel sensations inside your body as well: notice your lungs expanding and contracting and expanding again, and feel, if you can, the blood coursing throughout your body. If a thought of anything other than the impression of the present moment comes into your mind, observe it moving through you like the smell of jasmine or the sound of a passing car stereo.
Once you’re grounded in allowing all of these passing sensations to move through you, let yourself sustain the thought of an unresolved situation that is not happening in the here and now, for example, a difficult relationship with a co-worker, or a re-finance plan. When you have really gotten involved in figuring out how to approach the situation, stop and notice whether or not your awareness of sense impressions has changed. For most of us, as soon as we start planning, a narrow band of sight, sound, smell and touch coming in from our environment is all that remains, and this narrow band is our normal state of awareness.
Perhaps this is one reason that people have trouble actualizing their affirmations: by blocking out most of the moment to moment changes in and around us, we get a sense of sameness, the assumption that change does not happen very often. Most affirmations are about personal change, so our affirmations go against the grain of our assumptions. Perhaps we want to get a better job, but our unconscious belief that our experience of unpleasant employment will probably remain constant is our actual, working affirmation.
So making your affirmation work for you is a two-part process: noticing and discarding your negative assumptions is one half, and making your affirmation part of your normal sense of sameness is the other half.
That’s the mundane secret: say it, hear it and see it enough times, and your affirmation becomes part of the experience of sameness, part of your mental furniture. Then, it is easier for the deep mind to organize around the content of your affirmation than for it to constantly fend it off with facts. Of course, all of this can probably be accomplished in one or two hypnotherapy appointments in which the deep mind is directly addressed. However, if you don’t mind the investment of time, affirmations on their own may eventually reach those deeper levels of mind.
In any case, once the deep mind accepts something as true, psychobiological processes are set up to sustain that truth. Becoming aware of what specific assumptions may be preventing deep acceptance of the content of your affirmation can release mental energy. This energy can then be used to actualize your desire. And, becoming aware may really be all that it takes. Simply to realize that you have been carrying a negative belief about yourself, others, or life in general, and then to notice that belief whenever it emerges, places it at a distance from your self-identity, which makes you a free agent.
The negative belief becomes the mental furniture that is headed for the landfill. You can now replace it with your affirmation. Your affirmation may not at first, feel as comfortable to your mind as the discarded negative belief. This is a result of that same old love of sameness. Use your affirmation long enough to feel it sag a little in the seat and grow threadbare on the arms, and, once it comes true, you may miss repeating it.
So the main fuel of affirmations is a species of belief that is nothing loftier than the nonchalance with which most people abandon their weights to chairs. If the content of your affirmation seems so farfetched that you can’t accord it this nonchalance (“The world is now at peace, “Everyone I know is well and happy”), simply allow the idea of it to be possible, and let that allowing occur over a long period of time until it is a habit of mind. As a corollary effort, notice any ideas that conflict with your affirmation, and allow them to exist as ideas without allowing them to be true. Adding effective hypnotic technique will remove semantic impediments from your process:
State your desire in the present tense, as if its fulfillment is occurring now. Also, state your desire in the positive. For example, say, “I now have a job I love,” instead of, “I will get a job I love.” The deep mind deletes negatives, so, “I will not have another crummy job” sails like a hockey puck, past the goalie of the conscious mind, and straight into the net of the id as, “I will have another crummy job.”
In writing your affirmation, to get specific results, be specific. To admit more possibilities, be more general. The main source of success with your affirmation is to say it aloud at least twice daily at around the same time every day with as much confidence as you can allow yourself to have at the time. Simply keeping up with it until it pans out, regarding everything that occurs along the way as an important and informative part of the process of success may be the easiest way to get your results.
In conclusion, if you have ever demonstrated enough belief in sameness to check the time or to carelessly take a seat, you can also make your affirmation work. Suppose you are willing to suspend enough doubt to go along with this assertion, but you would rather not try to make your affirmation work, because you do not want to start something new. This is also a sign that you can make your affirmation work. Why? Likely, your deep mind will be as equally reluctant to give up repeating your affirmation once the affirmation has been around long enough to become something old.