Part 2. Do Affirmations Work?
Affirmations ‘work’ provided there’s an understanding that the words themselves are not crucial: only how the words make you feel.
Thoughts in themselves are not as important as what we feel about them: it’s our emotional reaction to what we think that creates the feeling of joy or sorrow.
When I first started using affirmations I think I’d read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich which is one of the great original and now-classic self-help books . Napoleon was an advocator of building faith to achieve success and his affirmations were a way of breaking down doubts and uncertainties with the use of willpower. Willpower alone however, is a function of the mind not the heart, using force rather than listening to the real inner feelings which are resisting change for their own reasons!
You can create affirmations for any reason: to remove anxiety, stop procrastinating, ramp up confidence, release fear, change body image, lose or gain weight…. The list is infinite but there’s only one core and underlying reason: to feel better. When we affirm something it’s because we want to feel better: any feeling that’s better than where you are now.
The Speaking Heart
The feeling self (subconscious ) is simple and literal: it ‘believes’ what you’re telling it because it ‘hears’ you through your feelings and emotions. Like a child trying to please its parent, it tries to fetch you whatever it thinks you want. It ‘reads’ what you want from the predominant feelings and emotions you’re experiencing rather than merely the words you’re thinking or saying.
The feeling self is tremendously powerful and in children’s stories is the genie who obeys his Master (the conscious mind), granting his every wish, whether or not he really wants it!
In ‘The Biology of Belief,’ cellular biologist Dr Bruce Lipton says the conscious mind is a 40-bit-per-second processor that handles about five percent of our operations, whereas the subconscious mind is a 40-million-per-second processor that handles 95 percent of our operations.
To get the subconscious and its power to work for rather than against us, we must learn to communicate with it.
To create great affirmations for yourself:
1. Be in the now. Affirm in the present tense and write ‘now’ to clarify, because the subconscious is literal and if you write ‘I will be successful’ it thinks you mean you want success at some (unknown) point in the future. ‘I now experience success in my new job’. Imagine and dwell on favourite experiences, words already said and dreams of things to come. Create the feeling as if it’s happening now because the subconscious lives in the now, making no distinction between something that happened and something that’s imagined. In ‘Excuse Me, Your LIfe is Waiting’ Lynn Grabhorn teaches that it takes only 16seconds of pure focused thought, good or negative to link up vibrationally with what we’re focused on.
2 Be sensual.Include as many senses as you can because the subconscious ‘listens’ to what you hear, reacting to tone of voice, music, rhythm, accents, touch, aroma, imagery, imagery plus sound woven together (advertising), colour, impressions, associations and perceptions. It’s least likely to react or ‘hear’ a set of dry words with no emotional content. or spray your favourite scent, encoded with your personal mantra into a tissue or hanky.
3.Be kind and gentle. Choose words that evoke joy, beauty or comfort because the subconscious is like a young, impressionable and open minded child. Children respond best to kindness and love, so be kind and loving in what you say to yourself. If you are affirming to release from difficult feelings such as anxiety, it can help to comfort and speak to yourself as if you are a parent caring for a little child. ‘It’s ok, you’re totally safe and I’m here with you now.’
4.Be firm and assertive. On the other hand if the subconscious is throwing up turbulent, fearful or ‘teenage’ emotions that feel out of control, assert your adult self: ‘I’m totally safe’, ‘ This is all in my head’ ‘I take back control’ ‘I’m in charge here’.
5.Be poetic. Make your affirmation into a poem or make it the lyrics to your favourite tune.
6.Be sacred.Encode your words with the sacred to make them special and important. The subconscious gives authority to what it believes is reverential. Prayers, affirmations, mantras (rhythmic chanting sometimes used with music or sound), poetry or prose can all evoke beautiful, inspirational and expansive feelings.
7. Be specific. The wonderful aroma of leather seats and sound of music playing in my fab new car makes me feel successful, rather than I now own the car of my dreams.
8. Breathe.The subconscious breathes for us, but at its own rate and as it sees fit, unless we take conscious control of it. Slowing the breath down deliberately relaxes the grip of emotion and allows the conscious mind to take back control.
9. Say it outloud. In the beginning was the Word….. the power of the spoken word gives vibrational substance to your affirmation and makes it much more real. The written word brings thoughts out of the realm of the invisible and into the visible, but the spoken word brings those thoughts 90% of the way to physical manifestation.
10. Act as if It’s Real Now.Create the feeling as if it’s happening now because the subconscious lives in the now, making no distinction between something that happened and something that’s imagined. Spend time thinking about your best ever experiences and remembering them in detail, especially any that create feelings of comfort, love, joy, peace. ‘Download’ this feeling as much as you can
Finally: Remember above all that affirmations are for feeling better and better and experiencing the feeling immediately in the body. So affirmations are easy to test because they literally make you feel better straightaway if you’re designing them well. Plus they very quickly start to change your experiences.