[This article about affirmations first appeared in the AffirmingSpirit Newsletter in 2004. It has been revised and updated for the enjoyment of blog-readers.]
Regardless of what we want to accomplish or experience in our lifetimes, we need to have, and know how to use, the right tools. The proper tool not only assists you in doing the job right, it makes the process much easier. So it is with daily affirmations—a powerful tool to shift your attitude, energy level, and motivate you to make life changes.
The Origin of Affirmations
The exact origin of affirmations is unclear, although only the priests and elite members of ancient societies had the ability to read and write. It is believed that illiterate masses were taught snippets of scripture or prayer to repeat while doing their chores throughout the work day.
We can affirm a positive or a negative, so for the sake of this post, I’m referring to positive affirmations. What we focus upon, we expand…and affirmations allow us to consciously choose our focus.
In the 1800s, Émile Coué (French psychologist and pharmacist) became famous worldwide for his life-changing ‘auto-suggestions’. He was noticing that, despite being given the same medications, some of his patients were healing more quickly than others. As he talked to his patients he discovered that those who healed the quickest were very positive about their health and had very positive self-talk. Those patients in poor health spoke mostly about their problems and disappointments. Noticing this discrepancy, he wondered if he could teach his patients with poor health to have better self-talk.
Coué developed one simple affirmation, that he called an auto-suggestion, which he gave to all his ill patients along with their prescriptions:
Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better and better!
It soon became very clear which patients were using that affirmation, as they were the ones who quickly recovered! This is one reason that this one affirmation has become one of the most famous and often quoted. Mr. Coué went on to write and share his idea of auto-suggestion, which today we call affirmations.
Like any tool, affirmations work best when used properly and regularly.
The Most Powerful Affirmations Are:
1. Written in the present tense as if what you desire has already appeared in your life.
2. Contain positive wording and do not contain words like no, not, don’t, can’t, won’t, etc., or words relating to what you are choosing to leave behind.
3. Evoke joy or an uplifting emotion when you read them. If they make you smile or giggle, that’s good, too!
Every human being is unique, so I have found that the best affirmations are those that are customized for each person’s interests and emotions. Are there some generic affirmations that feel good to read? Sure. But, they easily become ineffective because they stop producing a positive emotional response. If you have been doing affirmations without seeing a result, check to see if they adhere to the three guidelines above.
Here are the 5 ways that daily affirmations can be most effective:
1. Focusing/refocusing your attention
You attract into your life what you think about, and yet life in the 21st century is so fast-paced that we are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages. This is why so many people have chaotic lives. How can anyone stay focused on positive thoughts? Properly crafted affirmations help you stay focused upon, or refocus your attention upon, your consciously-chosen subject(s). Saying, reading, or thinking your affirmations every day will keep you on track, or get you back on track, with ease.
2. Shifting your attitude/energy
Scientists tell us that the world is made up entirely of energy, and that we can impact that energy with our thoughts. The energy you carry in your body can either be stressful and unhappy, or it can be joyful and uplifting. These thoughts that evoke emotions trigger the release of hormones that alter the chemical make-up of your body. The good news is that we get to choose which energy we want to carry, and we get to choose how we respond to external stimuli. Affirmations that evoke a positive or uplifting feeling are the perfect tool to ensure that you are carrying the kind of energy that makes you happy. The longer you use such affirmations, the more your body and mind will become accustomed to that energy. Over time, being joyful and happy will become a habit you won’t want to break! The next time you are feeling blue, start saying some of your favorite affirmations and you will see how quickly your energy shifts!
3. Releasing old thoughts that no longer serve you
All of us have, at one time or another, experienced something we’d rather not have experienced. As a result, we may have developed some thoughts or attitudes that keep us stuck in that past experience. For instance, someone who was not popular in high school may have convinced themselves that they don’t deserve appreciation or admiration from others. Of course, this is not true, but a past belief—so embedded into your mind that you don’t consciously think about it—can be dictating your present choices and attitudes. Such a person could begin with affirmations like… I naturally attract relationships with people who appreciate me…Everyone I know and meet loves to interact with me…People naturally enjoy my company and I enjoy being myself!
4. Creating new possibilities for happiness
Abraham, as seen in The Secret, has said that when you focus on what’s wrong in your life you only create more of what’s wrong in your life. However, if you momentarily ignore what you see around you and consciously focus on what you’d prefer to experience, you will, in that moment, begin opening the door for the new possibility of your preference. The mind does not know the difference between reality, a past experience, or imagination. Affirmations allow you to use the power of your imagination to create new possibilities for your future happiness. Some people consider this praying, and in fact, it is believed that affirmations were first created when simple prayers were memorized by illiterate churchgoers. Worry and anger is praying for what you don’t want. Positive affirmations are praying for something you do want.
5. Attracting consciously rather than by default
Most people are taught that life is hard and everyone has to struggle for everything from happiness to money. This is just a past thought that has been passed along through the generations. As a result, most people expect to be miserable and have problems, and they attract just that. When you write your own affirmations, you get to choose how you want to feel and experience your life. That conscious choice, and the effort you make to say your affirmations regularly, means you are no longer living your life by default—tolerating whatever comes your way. Instead, your attention, energy, and thoughts are all focused in the same direction toward what you have consciously chosen to experience. That is a powerful and effective way to create a life you really want to live!
6. Establishing a Daily Affirmations Practice
Like any exercise for the body, affirmations are most effective when used daily. Most people cringe at this thought—until they put it into action and experience the results. Initially, you may need to read your Affirmations. But, soon, you will begin to know them by heart. At that point, you can say them while you are driving to or from work, during quiet times throughout the day, and while you are exercising.
It is not uncommon that when we first say an affirmation, it might feel awkward. Some people resist affirmations because they sound like a lie. We might not feel well, or be struggling, so affirming that we’re doing well in that moment can be a stretch. But as we continue to repeat an affirmation that lights us up, our consciousness will expand to include the idea the affirmation evokes. Repetition is important for this reason.
Author and speaker Chellie Campbell likes to do hers while she brushes her teeth. That way, she’s sure to have time to do her affirmations every day! I say them throughout the day, while exercising, driving, cleaning/tidying, and whenever else I feel inspired.
Find a time that works for you, and begin your daily practice. You may be surprised how easy—and effective— doing daily affirmations can be!
7. Taking Baby Steps Versus Quantum Leaps
If you are struggling from paycheck to paycheck, it may seem strange to say affirmations like I am a joyous multi-millionaire! While it absolutely is possible to make a quantum leap from being broke to being flush with money, if such an affirmation feels wrong to you on every level, then it won’t work. It’s very important, as Abraham constantly points out, to pay attention to how you feel. Affirmations are most powerful when they make you feel happy and uplifted, or at the very least: expansive.
It is important to note here that affirmations help us expand our consciousness, and that process often does FEEL awkward at the beginning. By the time an affirmation feels like it is already happening, that is an indication that your consciousness has expanded to incorporate the new idea. So, when you commit to an affirmation every day for a few weeks, and it still feels awkward, you might be trying to take a quantum leap in consciousness before you are ready.
For those who don’t quite feel ready for a quantum leap, their best approach to affirmations might be to make baby steps using ‘bridge’ affirmations that move you incrementally toward your desire. Instead of I am a joyous multi-millionaire!, start with a baby step—from where you are to where you want to go—that feels better and more doable. In this example, imagine yourself living comfortably off your current income, having money left over, and receiving raises that allow you to live even more comfortably. Good affirmations might be…Every day I am feeling better about my income!…My paychecks are lasting longer and longer!…My income is growing every day…Money flows easily to me, and I enjoy receiving extra money! Soon, you will find your mind can easily expand to accept ideas that previously seemed too extreme.
Afformations, made well known by Noah St. John’s book by the same name, are also helpful for people who struggle with using traditional affirmations. Afformations are affirmations in question form, often starting with ‘Why’. They work because they bypass the conscious thinking mind while triggering the subconscious mind to find the answers. Examples might be…Why am I feeling better about my income? Why are my paychecks lasting longer and longer? Why is my income growing every day? Why is money flowing easily to me?
Also, repeating a single word or a few words, rather than a phrase, can also help you tap into a higher vibration while bypassing your conscious thinking mind. For instance, you might take the words ‘health, love, prosperity’ and repeat them slowly, mindfully for a few minutes several times a day, or during a meditation or while doing chores. When I do this, I find myself becoming aware of the health, love, and prosperity already present in my life.
Follow Your Intuition
The bottom line is that YOU know which affirmations feel best for YOU. Yes, you really do! When something is right for you, it feels good…joyous…oh-so-right! Focus on the choices that feel really good, let Source speak to you, and follow your intuition to your perfect path. Whether they are quantum leaps or baby steps, customizing your affirmations to your level of joy is key to their effectiveness!
Need more help with your affirmations?
Trust your own feelings, as they are your personal guide to what is best for you. If you still feel you need help, download my free Six Steps to Powerful Affirmations eCourse which will guide you to write your most powerful affirmations. Feel free to share the link with your friends, too!
If you’re still needing help, I am happy to offer paid mentoring to help individuals overcome their unique blocks to getting the most from affirmations.
Have some positive experiences with affirmations? Share them with us in the comments section…