By Prasanna Vishwasrao
What are affirmations
They are simply any positive or negative statements that we make, as we go through life. They can be natural, automatic statements or statements made on purpose.
Does this include all words and statements that we make during our lifetime? Yes and No.
Statements related to some aspect of the past, present or future are indeed so considered. The other utterances, which we shall call as ‘miscellaneous statements’, need not be so considered.
For example. ‘Let’s go for a walk’, ‘How are you?’, ‘I may be late for dinner tonight’ are ‘miscellaneous statements’. Examples of affirmations are given below.
Consider the following statements:
- Oh, what a beautiful morning!
- What a gorgeous car!
- All new movies are boring.
- There is always a traffic jam in the morning.
These are natural statements that bring out our true feelings as we go through life. These are affirmations.
Now consider the following statements:
- Every Day in Every Way I am getting Better and Better.
- I am losing weight every day without effort till I reach my ideal weight of 60 kilos.
- I am a money magnet and money flows into my life effortlessly.
- I am healthy and strong. I live life to the fullest.
These are statements of intent. Through these statements we express our desire of how we want our life to be. These are also affirmations.
We are going to concentrate on the second type, that is the statements that spell out our desired future – statements that can change our life for the better.
The wonderful thing about these affirmations is that the more we use them, the more our life starts resembling them.
The principal behind the working of these affirmations is similar to that of drops of water falling on a rock.
A few drops will not make any difference to the rock but if the drops fall continuously, then, over a period of time, the rock will be worn out.
“We cannot solve a problem with the same mentality that created it.” -Albert Einstein
This quote succinctly explains the working of affirmations. If we want to change our life for the better, we have to hold different thoughts in our mind, different than the ones that normally occupy our mind.
Every person has a set of different thoughts that occupies his mind on a regular basis.
Our thoughts are determined by our social milieu, our family upbringing, our education, our experiences in life and a variety of other factors.
A person leading an average life will have a different set of thoughts than a person successful in some field.
If the average person wants to be successful, he has to think like the successful person.
If a poor person wants to be rich and prosperous, he has to think like a rich and prosperous person.
“The soft drops of rain pierce the hard marble; many strokes overthrow the tallest oaks. – John Lyly
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
How does one change one’s life by changing one’s thoughts?
There are many answers to this question.
When we are in a certain situation, we think in a certain way. As a result, certain neural pathways are formed in the brain.
Later, when we find ourselves in a similar situation, because of the already formed neural pathways, we think similar thoughts and that results in the same old actions. Hence, nothing new comes out of the situation.
When we deliberately change our thoughts over a period of time, new neural pathways are formed to correspond to these new thoughts.
Thus, when a particular situation arises, the brain does not automatically think the old thoughts.
Rather, a new thought is produced in response to the same old situation. New actions are now explored. A new and different outcome is now a distinct possibility.
Another way of looking at it is this way.
The subconscious mind cannot differentiate between real and imaginary situations.
If we feed the subconscious mind with imaginary situations depicting our desired reality, then after some time the subconscious mind starts believing it.
When the belief becomes strong enough, it tries to match the new inner scenario with the outer reality of life.
As these two are different, and as it cannot change the new inner scenario because we are strengthening it daily by affirmations or visualization or in some other way, it now tries to change the outer reality to match the inner one.
We thus start having new experiences, meeting new people, spotting new opportunities which we earlier used to miss and so on. Slowly, life starts changing for the better.
Whatever be the explanation, it is a fact that a change in thinking changes life. And a change in thinking can be easily brought about by using affirmations.
Thus, if we make positive statements and repeat them over and over, they are going to affect our life positively. Similarly, negative statements will affect our life negatively.
How Affirmations Work
We go through our life according to our beliefs. For example, we know it and hence it is our belief that if we touch anything hot, it will cause burns. Hence we don’t touch hot things with our bare hands.
However, the belief system of small children is not yet formed.
Hence, they do not know the difference between hot and cold and are likely to touch hot things with their bare hands. (hence we have to take greater care of small children than grown up children).
If they get their hand burned, or alternatively if they are told repeatedly that touching hot things is bad, then their belief system forms and they will avoid touching hot things.
This is an example of affirmations at work.
All our beliefs are stored in the subconscious mind.
So, if you find that you are unable to make lots of money, or, you make money but are unable to hold on to it, it may be due to such beliefs held in the subconscious mind as “I do not deserve to be prosperous” or “Money is bad”, etc.
In order to change our beliefs, we have to operate at the level of the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind is like your computer. It takes an input, processes it and gives an output. It does not think by itself. It does not distinguish between good and bad.
If we put garbage in a computer we get garbage as output. (Hence the phrase GIGO which means Garbage In, Garbage Out). That is why your mother told you to keep good company and avoid bad company.
In good company you hear good and positive thoughts, see good actions being performed, good deeds being done.
By constantly being in good company these good things get impressed on your subconscious mind and, in turn, your thoughts and actions also turn out to be good.
That is why Napoleon Hill says, “If you want to be rich, be in the company of rich men”.
Also, it is a known fact that your income tends to be the average of the incomes of the ten people with whom you associate yourself the most.
“Affirmations are statements going beyond the reality of the present into the creation if the future through the words you use in the now.” -Louise L. Hay
How to Prepare & Use Your Own Affirmations
So, in order to change your beliefs and create a new reality, you have to bombard your subconscious mind with thoughts of your desire.
However, these thoughts have to be worded carefully, otherwise the results may not be as expected.
Hence, there are certain dos and don’ts to be followed for optimum use of affirmations. These are listed below :
Use the present tense. Do not use the future tense. If you say, “I will be rich”, your being rich will forever be in the future! The subconscious mind tries to literally bring about what it is asked to do. Hence say “I am rich” or “I choose to be rich” or “I am ready to be prosperous”. According to some psychologists, the term “choose” is better as then, being rich becomes your choice. And anyway, isn’t it true that your present life is the result of the choices you have made in the past?
Be POSITIVE. Only positive statements work. It seems the subconscious mind is incapable of dealing in negatives. So, if you say “I am not fat”, then when the statement reaches the subconscious mind, the term “not” is ignored and it becomes “I am fat”! Actually, what happens is that the law of ‘focus and growth’ applies. As per this law,whatever we focus on, grows. Hence, when we say ‘I am not fat’, the focus is on ‘fat’. So the subconscious mind will concentrate on making you or on keeping you fat. It is better to say “I am fit and slim’ or ‘I weigh ____ pounds/kgs’.
Affirmations can either be spoken or be written down. When speaking, repeat them emphatically, preferably throughout the day. The least you can do is repeat them at least twenty times in the morning just when you get up and twenty times in the evening just before you go to sleep. Better is to repeat them at least a hundred times daily. The more the better.
Another great way is to write them down at least fifteen times daily. Writing is a faster way of impressing your subconscious mind. The importance of written affirmations is amply demonstrated by the world famous ‘Dilbert’ cartoonist Scott Adams. Then there is also the famous “mirror technique” given below.
Repetition. In order to bring about significant changes in your life, affirmations have to be done several times a day till such time that they become a reality. If you do them for a few days only, the expected results may not come about. Be bull doggish about them, i.e. continue doing them till your goals are accomplished. There is a story of two neighboring villages A and B which always faced water shortage. Village A then learnt of a rain dance which they performed and duly received rains. Seeing this, village B also performed the rain dance but did not get any rains. They did this several times but still no rains. Ultimately, the chief of village B approached the chief of village A and asked for help. The chief of village A replied, “We do the rain dance till we get the rains.” Ditto for affirmations. Do them till you get your desired results.
I first learned about the mirror technique in the self help classic The Magic Of Believing by Claude Bristol. It has been referred to by other great authors too, one of my favorites being Louise L. Hay in her best selling book “You Can Heal Your Life”. The technique is as follows:
Stand in front of a mirror, look into your eyes and repeat the affirmations with gusto. Put energy into them. Looking into your own eyes deeply helps connect with your subconscious mind.
However, you have to do this on a very regular basis. In fact, Louise L. Hay says in her above mentioned book that when you are in your house and whenever you pass in front of your mirror, stop and repeat the statements a few times. This is a very powerful technique. I can personally vouch for the efficacy of this technique.
This is a fairly well known technique. Take a 3” x 5” card that can snugly fit into your shirt pocket or wallet. Write your affirmation in bold letters. View your affirmation as frequently as possible.
Wherever you are, you can quickly take out your card, read it and keep it back. But show it to no one. Declaring your intentions to the world seems to dissipate the energy that you put behind it.
Try to view the card at least 10-12 times a day, the more the better. The frequent bombardment of the subconscious mind with your affirmation will bring about the desired results.
Also remember that you are trying to reprogram a lifetime of thinking habits. This takes time.
If you are repeating the statements about a hundred times a day in front of a mirror, allow a period of at least six months to elapse before expecting results.
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” -Claude M. Bristol