Self-Awareness 101 Episode 29: Positive Affirmations
In this episode Willard answers questions regarding the effectiveness of using positive incantations and affirmations then shares two distinctions that will improve your results.
I'm often asked if I truly believe in positive thinking and positive affirmations. I guess this is because what I talk about quite often in Self-Awareness 101 is about paying attention to your thoughts and your belief systems. I recently released an episode where I discuss my beliefs regarding positive thinking, and since I have also been getting a lot of questions regarding positive affirmations, I decided to dedicate an episode to this subject also.
You may have heard me explore the idea of how your belief systems determine every thing that you do. What people don't realize is that a lot of times many of your belief systems have been created because you are doing something that I call "running tapes". What I mean by that is that you attach meaning to something that someone has said, or that you may have said about yourself and you just keep repeating these same statements over and over again. That repetition creates so much certainty that you buy into the thought process without even realizing it. You are actually giving yourself negative affirmations when you are running these tapes and ingraining limiting belief systems.
As an example, when I was probably 13 or 14 years old I had an experience happen with a cousin who I really looked up to and really respected. And this one interaction began a process of running a tape that experience which affected me for years to come. He was smart, he was in the high school choir, and did all these really cool things for school. He was always getting recognized for his talents and as a child I really admired him and aspired to be like him. We were singing together one day at his house and when we finished he said, "You know, your voice is okay. You're okay as a singer, you're good enough to be in the choir. But you're not good enough to be the soloist." I had been singing solos in front of crowds since I was 6 years old, but I really looked up to my cousin and valued his opinion so when he said this, it really impacted me.
I took on his belief system of my abilities. Meaning, every time I would think about trying out for a solo I would think, "I'm not good enough." That tape of his expressions, his voice, his statement and the intensity of the feelings constantly ran in my head whenever I would be approached to sing. I would always do a good job, but I wouldn't feel confident and certain about it.
Now, I ran that tape for so many years that when someone suggested positive affirmations, if I was just to go, "Okay, I am a soloist. I am a good singer. I am a soloist. I am a good singer." My conscious mind would go, "No you're not" and override that positive affirmation because I ran that old tape for so many years.
Why am I sharing this? I'm sharing this because I do believe that positive affirmations do work, and so do negative ones. And I believe that there are two key distinctions that people need to be aware of if they're going to use positive affirmations to help them gain the most benefit.
The first distinction is that you really have to believe what those positive affirmations are. The challenge is that a lot of times, people are dealing with something like a weight issue and they're told, "Okay, what you need to do, is you need to stand in front of the mirror and you need to visualize yourself, being thin, and repeat to yourself... I am thin... I am thin... I am thin." While the image is looking back at you in the mirror and your conscious mind is saying, "No you're not... no you're not... no you're not."
If you don't believe the affirmation, you're trying to push a rock uphill, with luck, you might make it happen, but most of the time, it just doesn't work.
My belief is this, first distinction... start out with a more believable affirmation. You are going to have the opportunity to change it as you progress, but start off, maybe with an affirmation that says, "I am beginning to take responsibility for my health." Is that something you can say with certainty?
If not, soften it even more. Say something like, "I am becoming responsible for how I live." Experiment. Create positive affirmations that you can say and believe in. Make that your starting point. And as you go through the process that I'm going to share with you as an exercise, you are going to come to a place where it becomes natural for you. You'll find yourself saying, "You know what, I'm ready to take this to the next level." And the next level will be a new affirmation that you have even more certainty in. Your new affirmation may be, "I'm beginning to sculpt the body I desire." You step it up incrementally to what you can believe in when you say it.
We've discussed before that "I am" followed by anything that you believe in, that you're congruent with, will become true for you. Key distinction.... you have to believe it.
Now, the second distinction that I think is very important is that when it comes to human behavior, in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), they talk about something called a "convincer strategy". A convincer strategy means that when you are given a statement where you need to be "convinced" to accept it, people are affected in two different ways.
One of them is an "internal" convincer strategy. This means that if you say it, you believe it. No one else has to give you validation for it to be true. An "external" convincer strategy means that for you to believe it, someone else has to tell you. You accept external influences as being true more than your own references.
Now, without knowing you personally, I don't know whether you have an internal or an external convincer strategy. So the second distinction that I share with people regarding positive affirmations is to cover both possibilities.
Come up with the affirmation that you desire. Let's say that it is a simple one like, "I am beginning to take responsibility for my health."
Now if you have an external convincer strategy, your conscious thought process is not going to integrate that affirmation. It will actually cancel it out. So to make the positive affirmation effective, create a variation that will align with an external convincer strategy which says, "You are beginning to take responsibility for your health." Then alternate these affirmations when you're saying them to yourself.
Say, "I am beginning to take responsibility for my health." Followed by, "You are beginning to take responsibility for your health."
With just making these two simple shifts... by
1) Making sure what you're saying is believable
2) Alternating internal and external
You will see amazing changes happen.
For this week the exercise that I would like you to do is come up with 5 affirmations that you can believe in.
Think of an area in your life that you want to change or that you want to improve, and come up with five affirmations that you can believe in. Start off with a slight shift if that is where you need to begin. Because again, as you progress and you gain more certainty, you're going to tweak these, you're going to gain certainty and make them even more powerful as you progress.
Set them up as alternating... "I am" fill in the blank. "You are" fill in the blank.
And your exercise is, after you've come up with these five affirmations;
Every morning, when you get up for the next week, I want you to repeat these affirmations, each one, three times. So you'll start off with, as an example,
"I am beginning to take responsibility for my health." "You are beginning to take responsibility for your health." One.
"I am beginning to take responsibility for my health." "You are beginning to take responsibility for your health." Two.
And then you do it a third time. Do it with each of your five affirmations. In the morning, as soon as you wake up, and at night, right before you go to bed.
For me, that's what I found truly makes positive affirmations work.
Choose the next Episode you would like to watch from the list below:
Self-Awareness 101 Series with Transcription Plus
Introduction To Self-Awareness 101: To Inspire, Educate and Empower
SA 101 Episode 1: The Importance of Developing Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 2: How to Truly Learn from Mistakes
SA 101 Episode 3: To Soar, I Needed To Let Go Of The Past
SA 101 Episode 4: The Meaning That We Give Things
SA 101 Episode 5: Kind Words And Good Deeds Are Eternal
SA 101 Episode 6: Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
SA 101 Episode 7: Two Most Powerful Words You'll Ever Say
SA 101 Episode 8: Making Time For What's Truly Important
SA 101 Episode 9: Expectations and Desires About How It Ought To Be
SA 101 Episode 10: Tap Into The Sources Of The Universe
SA 101 Episode 11: The Four Agreements
SA 101 Episode 12: Courage-Being Scared But Saddling Up Anyways
SA 101 Episode 13: The Power Of Belief Systems
SA 101 Episode 14: Change Is Inevitable, Growth Is Optional
SA 101 Episode 15: You Always Have Choices, It's OK To Say No
SA 101 Episode 16: Encountering External Resistance To Change
SA 101 Episode 17: Creating A Supportive Environment
SA 101 Episode 18: Our Decisions Determine Who We Become
SA 101 Episode 19: Personal Development Tests
SA 101 Episode 20: A List Of Excuses Vs. Results
SA 101 Episode 21: The Meaning Of Honesty
SA 101 Episode 22: Living In Gratitude
SA 101 Episode 23: Repetitive Patterns
SA 101 Episode 24: Non-Verbal Cues
SA 101 Episode 25: Be Brave Enough To Accept The Help Of Others
SA 101 Episode 26: Positive Thoughts And Positive Intentions
SA 101 Episode 27: Active Listening Skills
SA 101 Episode 28: How Self-Awareness Relates To Spirituality
SA 101 Episode 29: Positive Affirmations
SA 101 Episode 30: Basic Meditation Exercises
SA 101 Episode 31: Personal Development At Work
SA 101 Episode 32: Toxic Shame
SA 101 Episode 33: Eliminating Clutter
SA 101 Episode 34: How To Forgive Others
SA 101 Episode 35: Self-Forgiveness
SA 101 Episode 36: Deepening Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 37: What Is Fear?
SA 101 Episode 38: How To Overcome Fear
SA 101 Episode 39: Dealing With Your Anger
SA 101 Episode 40: How To Find Your Passion
SA 101 Episode 41: Increasing Your Self-Awareness
SA 101 Episode 42: How To Feel Deserving
SA 101 Episode 43: How To Be A Humble Observer
SA 101 Episode 44: Progress Not Perfection
SA 101 Episode 45: Expectations And Perfectionism
SA 101 Episode 46: Dealing With Anger
SA 101 Episode 47: Taking Responsibility For Yourself
SA 101 Episode 48: Achieving Higher Consciousness
SA 101 Episode 49: Trust Life
SA 101 Episode 50: Being Skeptical
SA 101 Episode 51: Benefits Of Closure
SA 101 Episode 52: The Final Episode