By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Affirmations have found themselves on the receiving end of jokes, groans and eyerolls for years, the skit from Saturday Night Live featuring Stuart Smalley often comes to mind. You know, the awkward and overly bright fella looking in the mirror saying, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people like me”. Classic. It’s okay if you have a visceral reaction to the word affirmation that is best described as cringey, until relatively recently I was the same way. My inner monologue would have gone something like this, “S-u-r-e, I think about what I want and magically it just happens. Um...okay...”. My science mind could not wrap my head around this idea - it was way too out there.
But, as I dove further and further into personal growth and development, this idea of affirmations just kept coming up. I mean, for real, the accolades for affirmations are as abundant as the skepticism. This got me curious if there was truth to them. Had I changed my mind? Well, no, not yet. The only thing that changed was a willingness to explore something new. I had never tried affirmations so what did I really know, right?
Being the science nerd I am, I needed to know the how behind affirmations; how exactly did affirmations help? I discovered affirmations work in a very simple but effective way. For simplicity’s sake, you have two parts of your brain, the conscious and subconscious. The conscious brain is what you are actively experiencing and thinking about while the subconscious is everything else. You are bombarded with tons of information from your body and environment, and the subconscious acts as a filter so that your conscious brain doesn’t get overwhelmed. Affirmations work on your subconscious. You tell yourself as well as visualize your goal or dream as already accomplished. The subconscious feeds this to your conscious brain. Since the statement is not actually true, this creates a state of tension between what you are saying and what actually is. Your brain isn’t a fan of this tension or mismatch of information. The subconscious then starts to filter information to your conscious brain that will help you achieve the goal or dream you are desiring in an effort to match this affirmation with your actual state. Taking action on these cues will put you on the path to making your goals and dreams a reality.
That’s the misconception about affirmations right there - that simply by thinking about what you want, you will get what you want. Affirmations are not magical. They are a way to put yourself in a growth mindset of positivity and possibility. No matter how unlimited your thinking, affirmations are just thoughts and you still need to take action to bring those thoughts into reality. That’s the key step that is missing when it comes to affirmations; you have to take action!
The science seemed sound but would it work for me, the skeptic? That remained to be seen! The book The Success Principles by Jack Canfield gave some great next steps. He recommended making a specific affirmation for the goal or dream you were going after. This would help the brain focus very specifically on these goals. Here are the steps he suggests to developing your affirmations:
Want an even simpler way to accomplish this? Canfield has this simple structure for affirmations that follow the outlined guidelines: “I am so happy and grateful that I am now ___________”. Here’s a quick example of how to align a goal with an affirmation. Say you have a goal to lose weight; your affirmation could be “I am so happy and grateful that I am at my ideal weight of XX pounds”. Isn’t that easy peasy, lemon squeezy?
So, are affirmations working for me? Yes! And, they continue to work the more I use them and the better I get at making them specific. Affirmations make it easy to remember the goal I am working towards, keeping those goals front and center help with upgrading habits and staying on track. Upon reflection, I can attribute several subtle prompts or seemingly spontaneous ideas that I came up with or put into motion in my life that are moving my goals forward. Are they directly related to affirmations? That’s hard to say; the power of affirmations is in gentle but persistent suggestions or nudging in the right direction. My attitude, enthusiasm, and commitment to these goals has stayed exceptionally positive and possible with the needle moving the right way with the addition of consistent and specifically designed affirmations.
To live your very best life means to continually stretch out of the comfort zone. It means to set goals, reach them, then set them again farther. It takes mental fortitude to keep at this process, especially for those far off goals and dreams, to prevent burnout and remain focused. That’s one reason why we like to share different tools and strategies to help you on this journey. Affirmations are another awesome tool to add to that best life toolbox, DreamChaser. If something as simple as changing your goal to an affirmation can make the difference, why not give it a try? What do you have to lose?
You got this, DreamChaser! Shine on!
P. S. Want more info on how affirmations work? Check out this blog → https://www.findyoursoulshine.com/blog/affirmations-time-to-clear-up-the-misunderstood-perceptions-on-how-they-work
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.