Affirmations are everywhere! On the subway. Painted as graffiti. In online articles like this one. Things aren’t going so well? Chances are your friend or therapist or mom told you to repeat an affirmation.
But what exactly is an affirmation?
The definition of an affirmation is a statement that something exists or is true. Since that’s the majority of what enters our minds and exits our mouths, affirmations are extremely powerful tools. This is because our thoughts create our behaviors which in turn create our habits which in turn create our lives. So we actually have a lot more power than we realize. Which is stupid exciting but can also feel like an overwhelming amount of responsibility.
Why do I need them?
As I mentioned before our thoughts create our reality and as humans many of our thoughts can lean toward the negative. At least more often than we’d like. Biologically it may be beneficial for survival purposes. But given that it’s been a good while since most of us had to legit fight or flight for survival, I believe much of it is now a result of conditioning. Our media focuses on the negative. Advertising tells us something is wrong but such and such product can fix it. Parents, teachers, and other role models often dole out life advice with cautious undertones (or overt warnings). It’s nearly impossible not to internalize all that fear and add to it by repeating those messages over and over and over.
Hmmm… then how do I combat that?
With positive affirmations. Take inventory of your life, the areas you excel in and the areas you struggle in. For the areas in which things are going well you can simply affirm gratitude. “I’m thankful for my job… my partner… my family… my friends… my home… that trip… the sunset... that tree, etc., etc., etc.” Now that’s the easy part. The more challenging part is when things aren’t going so well and you find yourself caught up in the downward spiral of negative thinking. Often when this is the case trying to create positive affirmations to combat years of negative conditioning leads to more defeat. “But I’m not rich. I don’t have a penny to my name.” “I don’t think I can be happy.” “I could never do that.” “I don’t know how to do that.” The attempt to rewire our minds feels futile.
Okay then, so how do you create one that works?
The secret to creating an affirmation that works is the energy behind it. When things are already going well for you, you know that to be true and automatically there’s positive energy behind it. But when things aren’t going so well it’s often difficult to simply flip the negative to a positive because the negative energy makes it hard to believe the positive to be true for you. Replacing “I’m so broke” with “I’m so rich” won’t do a dang thing if that isn’t your reality and you don’t fully believe it. Even if you repeat it over and over and over. You must feel a sense of inner peace and/or outer excitement over the total knowing that it’s true.
And how do you do that?
One super duper easy way to create an affirmation that feels more true to you is to place the words “I’m willing” in front of it. So if “I’m so rich” doesn’t feel true to you because you don’t have a penny to your name then perhaps “I’m willing to become rich” might feel more true. If that still doesn’t feel true then play around with the phrase until it does feel authentic. “I’m willing to attract more money into my life.” “I’m willing to accept money from any source.” “I’m willing to allow abundance into my life.” “I’m willing to entertain the thought of having more money in my life.”
Aside from money/abundance affirmations here are some examples of other commonly used affirmations that may not always feel true to people and possible alternatives that might feel more true.
“I love and approve of myself.” = “I’m willing to learn to love and approve of myself.”
“Today and every day I choose to be happy” becomes “Today I’m willing to be open to choosing happiness.”
“I am courageous and confident” becomes “I’m willing to explore being courageous and confident.”
“I surround myself with positive and loving people” becomes “I’m willing to be open to the possibility of meeting positive and loving people.”
“Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good” becomes “I’m willing to be open to the possibility that I don’t have all the information to judge this situation as good or bad.”
These are only a few examples but you get the idea. There are infinite ways of phrasing things and you’re only limited by your own creativity. “I’m willing” is often easiest because it can be applied in some form to any phrase that doesn’t feel true because you can always be willing. And if you can’t even bring yourself to believe that you may need some professional help. Another thing to keep in mind is that affirmations can always be changed as your mind evolves. For example “I’m willing to allow abundance into my life” can be changed to “I appreciate all of the abundance in my life” when you start to recognize the abundance in your life. So get out there and affirm life!