If everyone who used positive affirmations got what they wanted, we'd all have happiness, the loves of our lives, success, great health, wealth, fulfilling relationships, and peace of mind… but we don't. That's largely because most people who use this process for creating a better life are missing the piece of the affirmation puzzle that makes the whole thing work.
Positive affirmations address something in our lives that we want to adjust or replace with something better: change an overweight body into a slim and fit one, or replace an unhealthy daily habit like smoking with a healthy daily habit of drinking more water. The reason we feel better when speaking these positive thoughts as verbal statements is because the positive energy of good thoughts and pictures in our mind raises our vibrational frequency and causes chemical changes in our body that tell us we're happy. (Sort of like smiling during your morning shower when you got up in a crabby mood. You truly begin to feel happier because your body is programmed to feel good when you smile).
There are numerous reasons why you may not have achieved lasting change from using positive affirmations. Here, I'll address the major reasons and give you a step-by-step process to have greater success with them.
There is a missing piece to most instructions for affirmations. Without this piece to the puzzle, most people who use them for lasting change wind up feeling frustrated that they failed. If you are one of the millions of people who have used this process without the results you were looking for, you're not alone.
The missing piece? Emotion. Emotion (feelings) is the most powerful energy for creation — both positive and negative for things you want and things you don't want. You can speak verbal affirmations until you're blue in the face, but if you're unable to feel what it's like to have what you want, you won't get it. You may be asking, "How will I know how it feels if I don't have it yet?" Great question! Use your imagination.
The subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. This is why people can tell us we're awful when we know we rock; if they tell us often enough, we will start to doubt ourselves and believe them (great reason to delete negative people from your life).
If you've been lucky enough to have experienced what you want (great relationship, your ideal job, etc.) you can recall the feeling as vividly as possible while you speak your positive affirmation aloud. If you haven't yet experienced the thing you want, recall a time when you felt happy, excited, or fulfilled. Hold onto this memory as you speak you affirmation aloud several times. Just 17 seconds begins physical manifestation from your energy. It's okay that the feeling is borrowed from a different situation, because it's the high frequency vibration of positive emotion that we're after here.
Another reason positive affirmations don't work is that the wrong words are used. This can actually do more damage than if you didn't use affirmations at all because when you use the wrong words, you reinforce what you don't want, which makes it bigger and stronger and thus more challenging to change.
Example: Bonnie is overweight and sick all the time because she feels bad about herself. She wants to lose weight and feel healthy. She might be using an incorrect affirmation like: "I lose weight every day and I don't feel sick anymore." What is the focus? Weight and illness — both things she doesn't want. You cannot lose weight, feel better, and have lasting change if you're focused on the weight and sickness you don't want to have —those are don't wants, and your energy will create more of them: more weighty issues and more sickness.
This is another reason many people feel good for a few minutes after using affirmations, but then much worse after the initial high fades. They are actually making themselves worse off than without affirmations at all. That isn't really good incentive for continuing the practice, is it? We have to include the positive emotion piece, and now you see why it can be dangerous to do things incorrectly.
Remember that while your word and thought energy is very powerful, your feelings contain the most powerful vibrations. There's emotion connected to your words and thoughts, so it's important to use the correct words when we speak to or about ourselves and others.
Bonnie should focus on what she does want, within reason. I say "within reason" because if her words are great but her underlying thought (with emotions attached) is, "Yeah, right. I'm fat and ugly and feel lousy," the affirmation is out of alignment with where she is right now. A better one would be something like, "I feel stronger and healthier today." Most anyone can picture feeling stronger and healthier even if they feel weak at the time. As she uses her positive affirmation, she feels what it's like (either from past experience or using her imagination) to feel stronger and healthier, and she holds that feeling while speaking the affirmation for at least 17 seconds at a time — manifestation (creation of it in her life) begins at 17 seconds.
Notice also that Bonnie's words are in present tense, not the future or some promise like "I can," or "I will." The future never comes. As Bonnie begins feeling better daily, she can update her affirmation to be bigger, though still believable, and feel even better.
Although I'm a fan of big intentions, experience has shown that if they are too big to start with, they are unattainable and set us up for failure. As we practice positive affirmations and begin to see lasting change, we can make some bigger jumps in the next ones because we've reprogrammed ourselves to feel successful in reaching for and achieving. It's like goal setting: you can set them all you want, but it's goal-achieving you're really after, isn't it? Therefore, it makes sense to start slowly and gain momentum with success, rather than to fail miserably because you set your intentions too high or made your affirmations too big.
Here's your step-by-step plan for more successful positive affirmations for lasting change.
- Determine what you want to adjust or replace.
- Realize it takes practice. Go easy on yourself while being consistent — 3-5 times per day.
- Speak in positive terms of what you do want.
- Be specific about how many, how much, or when.
- Keep your affirmations in present tense, as if they are happening now.
- Tap into the positive feeling of already having achieved what you want — either by recalling a past experience or by borrowing feelings from a different situation.
- Hold the feeling for at least 17 seconds while speaking your affirmation out loud over and over.
- Give yourself time to practice holding the feeling because at first it might only be possible for 3 or 5 seconds. Practice, practice, practice.
- Remember that you are practicing, rather than trying. Try implies doubt while practice makes you better.
Please feel free to share an affirmation in the comments area. It might really spark someone else to use it or come up with their own... and will allow us to cheer you on!
Kelly Rudolph is a Certified Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Founder of www.PositiveWomenRock.com. Are you tired of stress, lack of confidence and fear about your future? Kelly can help. Begin getting her free Life Strategies now.
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