WITI PERSONAL GROWTH
Why Some Affirmations Work, While Others Don't
Your New Year Resolution can benefit from an affirmation. The right word flashing in your mind at the right time can send a signal to your entire body-mind and create the shift you desire. Affirmation can be very effective any time of year, whenever you have made a key decision in your life. However, if you don’t know how to use it, affirmation is just like most New Year resolutions, done and forgotten within two weeks. When that happens, it is more than a waste of time: it saps your confidence in your own mental power.
So what is the trick to make those words work for you?
The energy is in the phrasing
Finding the right affirmation is a science and art in itself. Not all affirmations have the same power. Affirmations that have been used by others successfully have more energy to them. This is proven by recent researches in the power of prayers, regardless of religious tradition. Prayer is a form of affirmation, which in itself does not require religious faith. If you have a faith in a tradition, it is good to use the scripture you are familiar with. Or you can choose from an inspiring author you love, a quote from someone you admire. You can adapt the phrasing to suit your own particular situation until you’ve found the right formula. Of course you can come up with the words that sound most meaningful to you, making it your own unique affirmation. As long as you feel the power of the words in your heart and mind, it is a good one.
You will know when you have found it when every time you go through the affirmation, you feel energized. And this lasts for at least 40 days.
Even a good affirmation can be canceled by contradictory thoughts
A good affirmation has the power to lead you through all the necessary steps to get the results you want. The only caveat here is: opposition thoughts can so weaken the affirmation that it becomes powerless. This is how most people get very little result from their efforts. While a part of your mind is saying an affirmation, another part is stopping it. It’s like putting your foot on both the gas and the break at the same time.
The opposition thoughts can take many forms, such as doubts, fears, wavering, anxiety or even self-ridicule. For example, if your affirmation is “I lose 30 pounds by June 2011,” but at the back of your mind a little voice keeps saying: “don’t kid yourself” or an image of eyes rolling back, or even just a sense of your solar plexus caving in. All this creates conflicts and resistance in your mind to the affirmation. The struggle between the two (or more) thoughts can also take the form of you actually oscillating between two sets of actions, as in a yoyo diet, on a few days, off a few days.
So how to avoid this problem?
Mental focus is your power
When the mind is divided, there is the front-of-the-mind affirmation and back-of-the-mind opposition. When the mental energy is scattered, or in a tug-of-war with itself, it cannot carry out any action effectively. You are left with one frustration after another. In order for your decision and affirmation to work, the mind has to gather its power to a single focus, or at least a predominant one that can overcome opposition.
One way to test-drive your affirmation is to sit quietly for a few minutes, mumble it a few times and see if there is any noise from the opposition. Chances are there will be some forces trying to stop you. Once you’ve identified the forces, see if you could let them go. If you can eliminate them, then you’d able to retrieve the energy from these oppositional forces and apply them to your goal. If the opposition overpowers your affirmation, then you need to consider reframing your affirmation to avoid further frustration.
For everyone who wants to increase the power of their affirmation, I would recommend the mental training technique par excellent: meditation. It has been developed by mental fitness experts for thousands of years. The Indian Kriya master, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, delves into the power of a focused mind and the use of healing affirmations in his many books. Apparently wise men in ancient times realized what amazing power a well-trained human mind was capable of. It is no coincidence that we are “discovering” meditation at a time when our attention is pulled in zillions of directions every day.
A 3 to 10-minute mini meditation works best with our busy modern lifestyle. There are many types of meditation to suit different personalities or different purposes: for visualizing what you want in your life, for releasing tension and stress, for increasing energy level, etc. If you have a meditation routine already, you can incorporate your affirmation at the end of your meditation, when your mind is in an open and peaceful state.
The right time
The best time periods for repeating your affirmation are: 1) in the morning when you just wake up; 2) before going to bed. Make sure you breathe deeply, and keep your spine straight as you go over your affirmation in your mind. It would also be good to repeat your affirmation a few times throughout the day, before a mealtime, in the car, etc.
If you cannot do it upon rise or bedtime, no worry. Just do it when you have the time. Make sure that you do it at the same time every day. That’s how the brain registers it as a pleasant routine and encourages you to go on. Regularity is the key.
The last requirement is: you need to give yourself at least 40 days before you can see significant or stable results. This is what I call the 40-day challenge.
I hope these techniques are helpful to you as much as they are to me and my clients. May all your affirmations blossom and bear fruit in 2011 and many years to come.