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Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

When some people think of affirmations, they might picture SNL’s Stuart Smalley gazing in a mirror reciting: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people like me!” LOL! In some ways, this is not far from the truth. Affirmations are just that. They are positive statements that affirm, solidify, the best characteristics of yourself, or even the characteristics you want to acquire. Do you want to feel more confident, successful, desirable? Affirmations can help by working on the subconscious part of your mind and training that part of you to think more positively about yourself. Once you begin to think more positively about yourself, your actions and your life follow.

Objections to Practicing Affirmations

If you are visiting this site, then chances are, you are already well-versed in common self-help techniques, or you are open to learning more on your journey. You might been exposed to the practice of affirmations in the past, but never really gave it much though, or you might have had some inner objections to the practice. Below I touch on some objections to practicing affirmations.

  1. Affirmations are for losers. Affirmations are for anyone who wants to make an improvement in his or her life. You don’t have to be down and out or desperate in order to start practicing affirmations. You can start practicing affirmations at any point in your life and experience the benefits within a short amount of time. Even self-help gurus and master motivational speakers such as Les Brown and Tony Robbins credit affirmations with the shift in their mindset and ability to achieve great things in their lives.
  2. Affirmations don’t work. I believe this depends on the individual. Affirmations are a subset of cognitive behavioral therapy, and they are just one way of helping you reframe your thinking, diminish negative thoughts, and see your life in a different perspective. There are plenty of methods for self-improvement, but for many people, affirmations are an easy, accessible, and effective way to shift one’s mindset from a destructive to constructive. Of course, if you suffer from any form or mental illness or emotional/psychological disorder, you should seek the advice of a trained mental health professional.
  3. Affirmations cause narcissism. Narcissistic personality disorder  is a disorder characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, belief in one’s superiority and the inferiority of others, excessive demands for attention and admiration, and lack of empathy, among other symptoms. To say that believing in your own good as narcissism is extreme, in my opinion. I think that some people may believe that affirmations cause an individual to become narcissistic because most people are so accustomed and trained to think negatively about themselves, that thinking anything positive about really goes against their “programming.” Some people associate negative thinking with humility. I’ll go more into detail about this in another post.

You Have Nothing to Lose

You really have nothing to lose in starting the practice of affirmations. Getting started is free! You don’t need a therapist or doctor to get started. You can search the internet and download free affirmations for any issue you’d like to overcome or any new habit you’d like to acquire.  I even show you how to craft your own affirmations in my post  “How Affirmations Energize Your Intentions for Increased Happiness,” along with a FREE 8-page workbook.

Below is the first chapter from my book, Affirmations:Rewrite Old Scripts and Deactivate Limiting Beliefs. If you like what you have read, you can purchase the book on Amazon. If the book has been helpful to you, write a review, and let other people know they too can experience encouraging transformation through the practice of affirmations.
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Chapter 1

“Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.”
– Anonymous

What are Affirmations?

We use affirmations all the time. Whether we speak positive or negative statements to ourselves, affirmations can have a decided effect on our lives for better or for worse. Affirmations solidify what we believe about ourselves, our relationships, our work, and our lives.

The term affirmation comes from the word, affirm. According to Webster’s Dictionary 1828, “to affirm” means “to assert positively; to tell with confidence; to aver; to declare the existence of something; to maintain as true; opposed to deny.” It comes from the Latin affirmo, or ad and firmo: to make firm. Affirm also means to establish, confirm, or ratify, such as ratifying a constitutional amendment.[1]

In the context of this book, affirmations are positive, specific statements that help you overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts. They are statements spoken out loud to yourself to encourage positive change or improvement in any given area in your life. They help you visualize and believe what you are affirming yourself to be, helping you to make constructive changes. Affirmations provide emotional support and encouragement. They empower you to recreate your thought patterns and redirect your life experiences toward positive change.

The Conscious and Subconscious Mind

Affirmations affect the conscious and subconscious mind. What is the conscious mind? It is a part of your mental and intellectual ability that brings awareness to the present moment, such as being aware of your environment, breathing, or the chair you are sitting in. According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the conscious mind consists of everything inside of our awareness.[2] This includes our ability to use logic and reasoning. The conscious mind includes the sensations, perceptions, memories, feelings, and fantasies inside of our current awareness.

The subconscious mind, on the other hand, contains things that the conscious mind wants to keep hidden from awareness. These are things that are repressed in our minds, but still have an influence on our behaviors. Another way to think about your subconscious mind is as your autopilot. The subconscious mind is responsible for the automatically triggered feelings and emotions that you suddenly experience upon facing a new situation.
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Driving the Point Home

Driving provides a useful illustration to our understanding of the conscious and subconscious mind. Take Devin, a 16-year-old, who is learning how to drive. He has to learn the rules of the road, traffic laws, and of course, how to handle a motor vehicle. As Devin learns how to drive, he uses his conscious mind to concentrate on all the tasks and responsibilities he is given in order to operate the vehicle safely. As Devin develops the habit of driving, his subconscious mind begins to take over. What begins as a task that requires a great amount of effort from Devin’s conscious mind begins to shift to his subconscious mind. Now, the elements of driving, such as finding a comfortable steering wheel position, conducting head checks before changing lanes, and coordinating the clutch with the gas and brake pedals become almost innate to him. This inexperienced driver has shifted many of the responsibilities and tasks of driving to the subconscious mind so that he can focus and engage on other things that are not directly related to driving, like talking to his friends or finding a radio station.

Through repetition, Devin’s subconscious mind took over the task of driving so that his conscious mind was able to engage in peripheral activities while driving. In the same manner, the act of repeating affirmations will also program your subconscious mind to help you think, feel, and behave in a way that is positive, uplifting, and life changing. The activity becomes a subconscious habit.  Practicing daily affirmations conditions your subconscious mind to react according to the positive suggestions you put in place.

For example, if you are looking for a new job, you might use affirmations to instill feelings of high competency, self-confidence, and feelings of success before you apply for the job and get an interview. Once you have conditioned your mind to think success versus failure, you are likely to perform this new behavior in a high-pressure job interview. Your behavior will show that you are successful, confident, and competent in everything that you do.”

Practicing affirmations alone will not necessarily land you your dream job, but it will help position you mentally and emotionally in the most optimal and advantageous state possible so that you can present yourself well during an interview. In the next chapter, we will discuss the purpose and the benefits of affirmations.

[1] (Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Online Edition n.d.)

[2] (Cherry 2016)

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