Why Affirmations Don’t Actually Work

I was coaching someone last week, a lovely, conscious, self-aware soul, and he said at one point, “I’m pretty good at affirming my way out of things,” referring to negative thought patterns.  Our conversation moved on, but later, I was thinking about something:  affirmations don’t actually work.

Well, they do work, in a way, but not the way we usually think.

What an affirmation?  An affirmation is a statement of a truth we believe in our head or we think we should believe.  It might be something as simple as, “I am loveable,” or “God loves me.”  It is often a statement of something that you WANT to believe is true, but don’t quite.  Some examples might be:

  • My hormones are perfectly balanced.
  • My living space is peaceful and filled with love.
  • My interactions with my boss are helpful to both of us.

In the years since books like The Secret or You Can Heal Your Life have come out, lots of people have tried repeating affirmations.  And they do sometimes bring some comfort or even some change.

But it takes a freakin’ lot of work to keep repeating an affirmation over and over, trying to force your brain to receive it, trying to make it sink into your heart.  Affirmations seem to lose their effectiveness after a while.  Or we desperately say them, while knowing we don’t actually believe them even though we want to or know we should.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that we’re using affirmations all wrong.  Affirmations are like bandages.  They stick to the surface of our bodies, helping keep our blood inside us and infections out.  But bandages don’t actually cause healing.  They just hold space for healing to happen.  Underneath the bandage, the wound still exists.

And in this metaphor, what’s under the bandage?

Lurking inside us, deeper than our good words of affirmation, are all kinds of painful things we ACTUALLY believe.  Things like:

  • I don’t deserve to be loved
  • I’m a bad person
  • If he/she/they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me
  • I’m worthless
  • I’m stupid
  • I’ll never make enough money

…and on and on.  And these are the beliefs that are REALLY controlling your life.  Why?  Because they’re the things you believe in that primal, innermost part of your soul.

So if you’ve been pushing yourself to affirm only the good, to think only positive thoughts, and all the rest of it, what now?

We need to let our real beliefs come to the surface. 

“NOOOOOOOOO,” I hear you scream.  “I don’t want to go into all that negativity.  I don’t want to create a negative reality.”

But those beliefs are there whether you acknowledge them or not.  So wouldn’t it be simpler and take less energy to admit their reality?  Because when we let our worst thoughts come to the surface and we admit that they’re there, we stop fighting with reality.  And when we fight with reality, we only lose 100% of the time.

So I dare you:  the next time you find yourself feeling triggered in your emotions by someone or something, ask yourself what the most immature, selfish, ugly part of yourself is saying right now, and bingo!, you’ll know what you really believe.

Then and only then can you begin to heal the wounds, when you’ve ripped off the bandages and faced the reality of the wound.  And once you heal the wound, the affirmation-bandages magically turn into beautiful banners of truth waving over your life.

In my next email, I’m going to talk about how we can completely dissolve those painful beliefs, but I don’t want to leave you hanging if this email stirred up your emotions.  Please email me if you want to talk.  (cynthia [at] MagicCarpetLifeCoaching dot com).   I offer one-hour free sessions over the phone where we can explore whether I can help you do some thought-dissolving.  And for those of you who’ve already done one of my free sessions and your knower is saying it’s time to work together and heal some of those wounds, let me know!  I’m here for you!


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