By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
When you hear the word “affirmation”, how do you react? This is just between you and me here, be honest.
Did your eyes roll into the depths of your skull? Or, did it make you throw up in your mouth a little bit?
I hear you. Been there, done that. And, even now, I still feel that way at times, depending on the affirmation or the person discussing the topic. I would like to take you on my journey from complete skeptic to all-in believer. This shift happened once I cleared up the misunderstood perceptions on how affirmations work and looked at the facts.
Affirmations have been a topic of psychology for decades and have more recently entered the realm of personal growth and development. This shift from science-driven and concrete to creative and abstract has made how affirmations work cloudy and confusing.
The difference between humans and animals, even the smartest, is that humans have a larger brain to body ratio, with the biggest area being in the cerebrum. This area is where our higher brain functions such as thinking, perceiving, and understanding happens. Our brains are constantly taking in information, both internally and externally. It would be very inefficient if we had to react to each of these stimuli; therefore, the brain has developed different strategies to deal with these. A few examples of these strategies are reflexes and habits.
Even though we are not consciously recognizing all this information, our brains are registering it and storing it away. This is where we get the concepts of the conscious brain, what we are actively dealing with, and the subconscious brain, what we are inactively taking in and storing away. The amount of information we take in passively into the subconscious brain is much higher than what we are actively dealing with. The subconscious stores this information to process later.
A downfall to the subconscious is that it does not differentiate if the information we are taking in is positive or negative; it just stores is away. Therefore, unchecked negative influences from our environment can become ingrained habits that manifest in our day-to-day lives. The subconscious can create powerful habits and automatic responses that are triggered and acted out without you even realizing it.
This is where affirmations enter. Affirmations are a way to retrain your brain from these negative, unserving thoughts to positive, self-serving thoughts, to see possibilities instead of limitations. They can be used in multiple ways from supporting goals to overall well-being. A common misconception, however, with affirmations and many of the popular quotes is that all you need to do is affirm and believe it to achieve it.
Ever hear the popular quote, “what you think about, you bring about”? This sends a mixed message; it is literally true and untrue at the same time. What you think about, leads to your belief in yourself and attitude. Where this quote falters is that action is also needed. Many people have the belief that by thinking positive thoughts and affirmations, all your goals will magically appear. The truth is that you will have a more positive, uplifting, growth mindset but you still need to take action for the affirmations to actually become reality.
Phew...that was a lot. Here’s the quick and dirty:
Still not convinced? Here’s the thing, and this might sting. That negative thought, right there, is not helping you. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always gotten” from Henry Ford. Negative self-talk typically results in negative attitude while positive self-talk typically results in positive attitude. In either situation, you still need to act to bring about any results. Taking results out of it, I would rather have a positive attitude and outlook on life, seeing possibility and opportunity rather than limitations and failure. If positive affirmations are one tool I can use to retrain my brain to positivity, it’s worth a shot.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Are you ready? No one will know that you are doing them unless you tell them, or until your attitude changes in such a way that they ask. Still hate the word affirmation? We have a solution to that; we are changing affirmation to compli-”self”-ments; check out our post on our SoulShine Life Connections Facebook page or on Instagram (@soulshinelifeconnections) on September 1 for the details. Shine on, friends!
The following tips on how to create powerful affirmations was taken from the post dated 4/25/2017 called “To Affirm or Not Affirm?” by Leena S. Guptha, DO, from psychologytoday.com:
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.