When I got the idea to write this article I looked around online to see what was already out there regarding affirmations. There were plenty of good lists of positive affirmations and a few how to's, but everything was very surfacey and idealistic. "In a perfect world, just say these good things and watch the magic unfold!"
In reality it's not always quite that simple. I'm here to demystify the magic and help with the common (yet unspoken) technicalities that hold so many of us back.
You've already seen me use and teach affirmations here and there because I love them. (I mean, I wrote a whole book about affirmations for crying out loud! I also created a four page worksheet of affirmations because they can be such a transformational tool.) You can use them to improve any area of your life!
What are Affirmations?
An affirmation is really just any statement you think or say. We affirm things all day long (in our own head and when chatting with others), but it's time to start doing it on purpose. Unfortunately, most of us are affirming negative things that do not serve us and hold us back in life. Things like"I suck at math", "Small businesses never win", and "Life is hard."
When I talk about using affirmations I mean deliberately choosing certain phrases that either eliminate something old or create something new in your life. The purpose of using affirmations is to create positive change.
For example, a couple of my favorite positive affirmations are...
"I radiate love and light." tweet it
"I am always surrounded by beauty and grace." tweet it
"Great ideas come to me constantly and effortlessly." tweet it
"I can do anything I set my mind to." tweet it
"All is well." tweet it
You want them to be empowering, inspiring, and transformative.
Affirmations work well for a multitude of reasons, but most importantly they build your self esteem, reprogram your subconsious mind, and make you feel good (when you do them right). And who doesn't want that?
But how come they only seem to work sometimes?
Most self help teachers will tell you to just look yourself in the mirror and affirm this and that. While this works in theory... it sometimes falls short in reality. Why? Because we don't quite execute them as well as we could.
Louise Hay says it best in her tiny, yet profound book I Can Do It: How to use Affirmations to Change Your Life...
How to Use Affirmations
Without Feeling Like a Liar
If you've ever tried using affirmations you've probably experienced the dilemma of feeling like a big fat liar. You know, when you're trying to affirm one thing, but feeling or believing another.
You- "I am wealthy."
You reality checking yourself- "Psh! Get real, you're broke."
You want to believe what you are saying, but it's too far a stretch or feels just plain fraudulent!
Let me tell you a little known secret: It's not about the words you are saying, but the vibration you are feeling when you say them. The Universe responds first and foremost to your vibration, it doesn't understand words. The statement itself is just a bunch of letters and sounds, but how you feel when you say it is everything! (I often use the words vibration and feeling interchangeably because how you feel is an indicator of your vibration in that moment.)
The whole purpose of using affirmations is to give you the feeling that you want the Universe to pick up on because the Universe communicates in vibration, not language. This is how and why they actually work.
In this case, the feeling you are after is wealthiness. So affirming "I am wealthy" (in a perfect world) is supposed to make you feel wealthy. And the purpose of feeling wealthy is so that you can attract real wealth into your life experience. That's how the Law of Attraction works. Feel it first, experience it second.
The problem is that people believe the affirmation is what's doing all the work. They think the actual affirmation itself is changing their life. But affirmations are just one tool to help you change your vibration, which changes your life. Once you understand that, you can see how if you say one thing, but feel (vibrate) another, the affirmation can never work.
Basically, you have two options if you feel like a liar.
1. Make the affirmation feel more authentic.
2. Make yourself believe it by changing your beliefs.
Luckily, you can easily tweak affirmations to make them feel more authentic to you in any given moment. A little trick I like to use is to soften the statement by changing the wording so it doesn't feel so... out of reach.
You don't have to lie. Don't waste your time claiming something you are in total or complete opposition to because it will only create more resistance (which will take you ten steps backwards and zero steps forward). Take baby steps, forward.
If "I am a positive person" is too much, you can change it to "I am willing to be a positive person." See how that could resonate more with you? Or instead of "I am successful" you could say "I can be successful." "I am stress free" could become "I choose to be stress free." And so forth.
"I am willing to...", "I can...", and "I choose..." are a few great softening phrases you can whip out at any time. The point is to keep changing the wording until it feels good as you are saying it. That is key.
The other option is to just suck it up and believe what you are saying. Which sounds really hard, but is actually quite reasonable. Since beliefs are just thoughts you have practiced over and over, you can practice thinking different thoughts to change them.
Besides, most of your beliefs aren't even really yours. They have been so graciously bestowed upon you by society, the media, your parents, bullies, friends... whoever!
The easiest way to change a belief is to provide supporting evidence for a new one. This is something I learned from my man, Tony Robins (love him). First decide what you want the new belief to be and then find enough supporting evidence to prove it true, making the old belief irrelevant.
If you believe "I can't be rich because I come from a poor family/neighborhood/situation", then you would obviously want to change that belief to "I can become rich, despite coming from a poor family/neighborhood/situation." The easiest way to change your belief would be to find as many rich people (who overcame these circumstances) as it takes for you to believe that you can do it too. Tony Robins, Oprah Winfrey, Ralph Lauren, Leonardo Dicaprio, J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Nicki Minaj, Howard Schultz... Google. Who knew?
(Side tangent about not believing in yourself: If you're trying on a positive affirmation and you don't believe that it is true, you need to get your perspective on straight because you can be, do, or have anything you want. Anything! That's a fact.)
If you believe that your life is lacking abundance and you try to affirm "My life is full of abundance" you can change your belief by looking for evidence of the abundance that is already in your life. If you're reading this, I can guess that you already have a nice home, plenty of yummy food, a car or two, a smart phone, a computer, a giant tv, a family, a job, lots of stuff, experiences and a billion other things to be grateful for. Focus on what you do have and you can't help but to feel abundant.
If you believe that life is hard and you try to affirm "Life flows easily and beautifully for me" just think of all the moments when it was easy and beautiful for you until you can stand behind that statement more confidently. How about all the times someone held a door open for you? Or when your friends helped you move? Or when you got offered a new job?
P.S. I go more in depth about this in my affirmation guidebook, #ActuallyICan: The Art of Affirming Yourself to Greatness.
Tips for Using Affirmations
I think that slightly changing your wording or changing you mind are the two key things most people are missing when affirmations don't perform well for them, but here are some other things to take into consideration if you want to be the best! Not that it's a competition... but still.
Don't contradict yourself. If you say your affirmations for one hour every day, but complain the other 23 what do you think will happen? I'll tell you what; a whole lot of nothing! Also make sure your actions are matching up with your affirmations. Don't just say one thing and then act a different way. That will totally confuse the Universe. Be the part!
Always affirm things in the present tense as if they were already true. If you affirm that something will happen in the future it will always stay stuck out there, in the future! All we have is now.
Example: "I am in an unconditionally loving relationship with a great partner" not "I will be in an unconditionally relationship with a great partner."
Always state what you do want, never what you don't. Whatever you focus on expands. Be sure to use positive expressions if you want a positive result.
Example: "My job brings me great satisfaction and sense of purpose" not "My job sucks and is totally unfulfilling."
Use your name. New science suggests that affirming things in the third person can sometimes be even more effective than using first person tense. Pretend you are your favorite school teacher and tell yourself how great you are! I feel like this works best for people who lack a lot of self confidence and place lots of power in other peoples opinions of themselves.
Example: "Kelsey, you are really talented and lovely to be around" instead of "I am really talented and lovely to be around."
Do them at the right time. Only use affirmations when you are in a place of optimism and hopefulness. If you're feeling down and you try to use affirmations your ego (that voice inside your head that you think is you, but is actually not you) is just gonna' poop on whatever you are affirming.
Example: You try to affirm "I deserve to be happy" only to think "You really think you deserve to be happy? Hah! You don't deserve sh*t. You lie and you litter and karma's a bitch so watch out." or whatever excuse your ego comes up with to make you feel anything less than worthy.
Write them down and say them out loud. Although your thoughts are very powerful, I find that writing down affirmations and then saying them out loud gives them even more power and speed. Write down your positive affirmations and recite them as frequently as possible. Between thinking, writing, speaking, and acting affirmations are bound to work wonders for you!
Congratulations! You are officially ready to start using affirmations like a champ! Now you just have to figure out what you want to affirm... Good thing I've already got you covered!
Download my free "Affirmations for Anything" Worksheet and use the fill-in-the-blank templates to help you come up with tons of awesome affirmations that will help you improve any aspect of your life. You can use it for one or all of the areas that you would like to positively impact and it has plenty of examples in case you get stuck.
And if you liked this blog post I highly recommend you check out my book #ActuallyICan: The Art of Affirming Yourself to Greatness because you will LOVE it. Not only is it the best affirmation guide around, if I do say so myself, but it has tons of lists of affirmations that you can use to transform all the major areas of your life (finances, health, confidence, self-love, etc...)!
So what are you waiting for? Get to it and start affirming yourself to greatness!