How to Make Affirmations Really Work

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 05/10/2017

image via commons.wikimedia.org

Affirmations seem so 80’s.  Writing down positive thoughts and repeating them daily seems rather quaint and naïve…rather like expecting Santa Claus to leave you a choo-choo train (or a Pulitzer Prize) on Christmas morning.  Positive affirmations are still around as a self-improvement tool because they are helpful for many people.  If they didn’t work, they’d be long-gone relics of the 1980’s alongside legwarmers, shoulder pads & the musical stylings of Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  The problem for us DaVinci’s, however, is that we get bored very easily and so affirmations lose their effectiveness in short order.  We may feel an initial ‘ping’ of epiphany – we might find them helpful reminders at first—but then, after a few days our affirmations grow stale like a Katy Perry song you’ve heard far, far too many times.  In short order, we don’t register the Post-It’s we’ve dutifully placed on our mirrors and monitors.  When repeating our affirmations, our minds wander to things like “Do I need to buy asparagus?” and “Oh look, a piece of lint.”  But you can make affirmations much more effective by making them more active.

Here’s how:

1. Compose a new affirmation for each day.

Each day, take a moment to write a simple, declarative positive sentence that represents a thought you’d really like to believe.  For example, “I am living a wonderful life.”  “I find joy in every moment.”  “I am a kick-ass juggler.”  Whatever floats your boat on that particular day.  Write your affirmation down on an index card.  Repeat it out loud a few times, with feeling.  Make it your screen-saver message for the day or put it on a Post-It where you’ll see it and read it several times over your waking hours.  On the following day, compose a new affirmation.  Write it on a new index card.  Make it come to life for you.  Replace yesterday’s screen-saver or Post-It with a new one.

2.  Select one affirmation and process it more deeply.

When you get bored writing new affirmations, you can rifle through your previously written index cards and pick one at random.  Write answers to the following questions:
(a) How do I know this to be true?  When and where have I seen evidence of this in my life?
(b) What obstacles interfere with this?
(c) How can I overcome these obstacles?

By processing your earlier affirmation at a deeper level, you’ll gain new insights and give the affirmation more power.  For today, anyway.  But that’s all we’re seeking.

3. Focus on the “Blurt”.

This time-tested method pioneered by creativity guru Julia Cameron can help DaVinci’s deep dive into their core beliefs:
1. Choose an affirmation. For example, “I am a successful sousaphone player.”
2. Write it down on a sheet of paper that has plenty o’ extra space.
3. Wait for that little voice in your head that balks at your affirmation.  It might say something like “Successful?  Ha!  If you’re so successful, why haven’t you won any sousaphone awards?  Why aren’t you living in a waterfront mansion, paid for by sousaphone royalties?”  Or something like that.
4.  Whatever that nasty voice ‘blurts’ out, write it down.
5.  Dispute the blurt. For example, “There are plenty fine sousaphone players who haven’t won awards or live in mansions.  Those are unrealistic goals.  I know I’m an adept player because people applaud when I play and …” At this point, the nasty voice will blurt out something like, “They’re only being polite!” at which point, you can contest that, too.  If you allow yourself to do so, you can engage in a rather vivid, hilarious conversation with the nasty voice.  The more you do so, the deeper you can get to what’s really the core issue…self-worth or self-love or something similar.  Whatever you discover, this process is an extremely active and engaging way to use affirmations.

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Activity: this week try all three methods to make your affirmations more effective.  See which works best for you.

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The Lost Arts Of War September 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm

…A post I saw over…

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