When discussing self-development, the concept of affirmations gets thrown around a lot. But what are they really? Do they actually work, and if so, how can they be used effectively?
I’ve meditated on affirmations extensively, and done a fair bit of digging around on the subject, and I want to expound my ultimate theory of affirmations.
In essence, affirmations should be used to confirm (affirm) what already is, rather than to try to change it. What do I mean by this?
Well, for example, let’s take myself. I’m by no means tall, at 173 cm. I wish I were taller sometimes, but nowadays it doesn’t bother me too much. If it did still bother me, a good way to work through my insecurities about my height would be to create an affirmation, and repeat it to myself as often as possible.
But this is where it gets a bit tricky. What should the actual words in the affirmation be?
Wishful thinking vs. Reality
There are some who say that it should be something like, I’m six feet tall, or I’m growing taller every single day. This is the wrong approach and it will not work!
You’re trying to change something obstinately physical and unyielding, your physical self through language alone, and it’s a hopeless task.
That said, I believe that pretty much anything could be manifested with powerful visualization skills, but that’s neither here nor there.
An affirmation is composed of words. Words are conceptual, they are not reality. Thoughts are composed of words, and thoughts are also conceptual. It stands to reason that affirmations are to be used to change thought patterns.
So, the right approach to the problem of being insecure about my height would be to address the insecurity, not my height in itself.
What actually works
An affirmation like every day, I accept myself exactly as I am, or even I’m more confident about my height every passing day, is not only reasonable, it’s going to be effective. With some caveats, to be sure.
Whether affirmations work or not depends entirely on one question. What do you expect affirmations to do?
If you expect them to enable you to materialize a million dollars or add on 10 pounds of muscle with no effort, they won’t work.
If you expect them to strengthen your resolve, break negative thought patterns and help you build a habit of positivity, then they absolutely will work!
In the beginning of this article I said that an affirmation should be used as confirmation of reality, rather than as a catalyst for change. So to make sure that our affirmation works, it needs to have some truth to it, or at the very least the potential for truth.
Saying I’m six feet tall to myself and then measuring my height, and seeing that in fact I’m not six feet tall, will not only not help me with my issue of insecurity, it will be actively detrimental.
Saying I accept myself as I am, or I accept my height, and then feeling that “Hey! I do feel a little bit better about my height!” will create a powerful upward spiral of thoughts and emotion. However, it takes time. A few days or even a few weeks will not be enough to break a mental habit that’s taken years to establish itself. Give it some months, repeating it to yourself multiple times a day. Make it a habit.
My own story
All I can say is that about a year ago, during an incredibly difficult period in my life, I made affirmations a daily habit, and they helped me tremendously. I wouldn’t even be writing this article if I hadn’t started affirming my reality.
I have eight affirmations that I repeat seven times, twice a day. I’ll even share them with you, feel free to use them for yourself or better yet create your own. My own affirmations are:
I am free from all addiction
I am healthy, wealthy, and content
Every day, in every way, everything gets better and better
I love myself unconditionally
I feel my inner peace deepen every day
Riches flow toward me from all directions
I am conscious and mindful
I deserve all good things that come my way
I feel a deep love towards these affirmations, because looking back I can see the incredible benefits of taking control of my thought patterns. Repetition is key. Perseverance is the other key. But most important of all, is the aspect of acceptance.
Accept what is, and all else will fall into place. Forget what you want for a moment.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life, but in the end, you could have all manner of material manifestations and the way you think would prevent you from being truly happy.
Just look at all the incredibly unhappy, yet immensely rich, beautiful and “successful” people all over the world, case in point.
In conclusion, affirmations have been an essential aid in allowing me to stop experiencing existence from a place of fear, and instead allowing me to cultivate love in all aspects of my life. I wish you all the best on your own journey.