Do positive affirmations work, or are they a waste of time? I’ve tried them, and I’ve given up, and I’ve tried them again.
There is research out there that says they work, and research that says they don’t work.
The statistics are unclear, so everything I say here is my speculation, and how it has worked for me, how I’ve used them, and how I feel about positive affirmations.
Doctor Joyce Brothers said, “you cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”
In other words, if you think you’re a loser, you are going to act like a loser. If you see yourself as a fat person, you are going to keep acting like one.
The purpose of these positive affirmations is to change the way you see yourself. To transform your own image in your mind, because if you see yourself as a winner, you’re going to start acting like a winner.
When you hear about these affirmations, they usually have the caveat that you need to state them in certain ways (they differ from teacher to teacher) but they usually involve stating the affirmation as if it were already true, and usually include adding the emotional benefit you are experiencing as a result of it being true. Like these:
I am calm and confident in every situation, and I now look forward to challenges.
I am at my ideal weight, and I feel great about it every single day.
I love the feeling of freedom of never having to smoke a cigarette again.
And so on.
I used to do affirmations like this. But they didn’t always work for me.
It didn’t change what was actually true about me. Because I wasn’t affirming the truth. So I didn’t believe it. It didn’t change me.
I was told that it was like self-advertising, and it took some time, but I did these affirmations for months at a time, and things weren’t changing.
Why? Because affirmations like this make you feel like the effort and labor it takes to change will come naturally to you, because you keep saying the words over and over. And they do make you feel good every morning. But here’s what they don’t do – I don’t think they change the way you feel about yourself. At least it didn’t work for me.
Then I learned why.
I heard Jim Rohn say, “Don’t be fooled by anyone who tells you that there is a way, contrary to nature itself that says unless you labor, unless you act, things just aren’t going to grow.”
I put the faith in the affirmations. I mistakenly thought that the labor, the activity was reading the affirmations a few times a day. That’s not where the labor is. That’s not how it’s done.
As I looked for an answer, one came to me.
The most powerful phrase in the English language, and presumably any other language. I can, and I will.
There is 1953 book by J. Martin Kohe called your greatest power, where he covers the power of choice through the entire short book. I read it in my teens when the book was only 40 years old (now it’s 68 years old but still evergreen) – it should have changed my life back then but I didn’t implement it. As they say, someone who reads and doesn’t act upon that wisdom is no better off than someone who doesn’t read anything.
The power is in understanding that it’s possible, and deciding to do it, to pay whatever price you have to pay. Deciding to put in the work.
And I changed my affirmations to fit this new power that I had, the power of choice.
I can and will put in the effort to learn how it’s done.
I can and will take all the steps once I’ve learned how to do it right.
I can and I will stop smoking.
I can and I will lose this weight and eat healthy food.
I can and I will work on my relationships and treat my family well.
I can, and I will.