Using Affirmations

by May Bleeker, 3 March 2009

Using affirmations is easy if you know the few simple rules that determine success.

These rules are based on my own experience of what works and are also confirmed by the advice of Louise Hay and Shakti Gawain, both of whom promote the use of affirmations as an effective method for change.

These rules are so important that I would not recommend using affirmations without checking to be sure that each statement you use meets every rule. The examples I have provided on the self esteem affirmations page already have these qualities.

Rules For Effective Affirmations

  • Affirmations are positive statements.
  • Affirmations are in the present tense.
  • Affirmations use the first person.
  • Affirmations are most effective when they come from the heart (are connected to something you care about).
  • Affirmations work through the act of repetition, bolstered through the energy of emotion.

The way you currently think is a collection of mental habits you've practiced all your life. A lot of these ideas were picked up from other people and may not even be accurate or very helpful to you.

The purpose of working with affirmations is to build new habits of thinking and to focus your intentions. These, in turn, influence your responses in everyday situations, hopefully improving them!

Once you spot a limiting belief you focus your intentions through finding a clear way of saying what you want instead. Then you create a positive statement that counteracts the negative belief. This positive statement becomes your affirmation.

e.g. I am not very good at sport.

Replace with:

I am becoming fitter and more athletic every day.

How To Make It Stick

Of course, for the affirmation to work it needs to become a thought that occurs to you naturally - part of your overall mental pattern of thinking.

Ad agencies use techniques that are based on how your mind works to influence your thinking. Through using specific, but simple, techniques, ads 'train' your mind to associate certain positive feelings or ideas with a product. When you are in a store you recognize the brand more easily and because of the positive associations (if they work on you) you are more likely to buy it.

In this way your thinking is influenced by other people, for commercial purposes. But you can use the knowledge of how this works to influence your own thinking for positive ends too.

Guide your thinking towards a positive mindset of your choosing by using affirmations to consciously introduce helpful thoughts.

How Your Mind Works

Strong memories are made through repetition, linking things together, adding colour, rhythm and emotion. The more of your senses you bring into a learning situation, the more likely you are to remember the material. That is why many accelerated learning programs use music, rhyme, colour and association to speed up learning dramatically.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat!

One of the most important aspects of using affirmations is to repeat them until they become second nature. Place your written affirmations in a prominent place so you can be reminded to repeat them. Be sure you have constructed your affirmation correctly, though! Check out the effective affirmations page to make sure.

Music, Rhythm and Rhyme

You might find it a little awkward to sing your affirmations to yourself, but the more rhythmic and 'musical' they sound in your mind, or out loud, the easier they will be to repeat and remember.

Everyday in every way I get better and better is more effective than Everyday I get better, simply because it is more catchy.

Happy Colours

Your brain and memory like to link things together. Linking colour to your affirmation is therefore a good idea. Adding colour livens it up and makes it more fun. If its fun, it becomes easy! Write your affirmations in coloured inks or on different coloured cards.

If you write a specific affirmation on a yellow card, when you see the colour yellow during the day you might remember your affirmation. This means more repetitions. And as you already know - repetitions are good!

Emotion Locomotion

Any emotion will help a memory stick. That's why we can always remember our most embarrassing moments without any trouble. Emotion helps 'glue' the memory together in a bundle of sensations and information that is more easily recalled than the simple daily moments that pass by.

But bear in mind that you want your affirmations to be driven by positive emotions and intentions. You want to avoid any negative associations.

Try to choose affirmations that relate to something you care about, with words that mean something to you, as this will strengthen the effect of working with them.

Choosing a statement that has a positive feel is also important. If you work with an affirmation that you don't 'believe' you might spend more of your energy battling your disbelief than on strengthening the affirmation. The effective affirmations page gives tips on how to avoid this.

Having emotion behind it is also important for another reason. Its like the wind in the sail of a boat. The stronger the wind, the faster the boat is propelled. The stronger the emotion, the deeper and more effective the effect of the affirmation will be. Here are my tips for connecting emotions to affirmations.

Repeat With A Little Bit Of Feeling

Once you have your affirmation written on a coloured card or with coloured inks, all you do is repeat the affirmation regularly and often with as much sincerity as possible. Put it near your bed or somewhere you will see it often. I sometimes put mine on a mirror or in the bathroom - where it will definitely be seen at least twice a day! When a negative thought comes up - focus your mind on your positive affirmation instead.

That's all you do. Everything else flows naturally from that.

With the sport example: I am becoming fitter every day - with time you might find yourself interested in some aspect of sport you never considered before. You might find yourself more keen on getting fit or more interested in a hobby that is quite active. You might find it easier to go jogging or walking than you have in the past as blockages that you were not aware of start to shift.

I find that after a while the affirmations, repeated often enough, shift into the background of my life. I see the note with the affirmation on the mirror and don't have to read it to be able to repeat it in my mind. It becomes second nature. The statement pops up in the middle of the day, on its own, seemingly all by itself. When it has reached this stage I know I've internalized it and I then move on to learning a new statement.

Eventually I have a bunch of them to mull over and remember. My favourite part is looking over old affirmations and marveling at how my life has changed to include these things.

Using affirmations, together with meditation, has brought about great changes in my life. How do I know using affirmations works? Sometimes I've made my statements very specific, for example:I am becoming more confident in verbally expressing my wants and needs.

Becoming more confident in communicating my freelance charge rate, something I always felt a little shy about in the past - and becoming confident enough to read my poetry to a room full of strangers seems to me to be progress in this area. There is no way to prove that it was using affirmations that did it, but the changes did come about after I began working with this affirmation.

The details of how affirmations play out in your life will be different for everyone, but the point is that your system works as whole. If you have a new way of thinking, your system will attempt to adjust in line with this new way of thinking. As your beliefs change, your actions adjust naturally, without being forced.

Using affirmations is one way of focusing on the things you want in your life and when used correctly, are an easy way to navigate towards them.

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