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Why Affirmations Sometimes Don’t Work

Posted in Guest post | 6 comments

Some ponderings on affirmations from my good friend Anni who blogs over at Becoming Extraordinary


Saying affirmations is one of the earliest healing techniques that we spiritual students practice.

Like many others, I began with reading books from Louise Hay and even bought many of her affirmation card decks. I started writing down the affirmations I got from her and from Florence Scovel Shinn (the Louise Hay of the early 1900s) on index cards and taped them all over my bathroom mirror, leaving myself with just enough room to check out my reflection.

Every morning and night, I read those cards up and down, left and right, trying to extract the juice I’m supposed to get from reciting those glorious words. I treated them like medicine, believing that when I combined this word and that thought together, I produced a potent magical formula that is going to rewire my whole brain and change my life so I can change the world!

Except, it didn’t work that way for me. I was hoping it was the quick fix to get me from miserable point A to enlightened point B, but many affirmations later, I still felt the same feelings, and the same people and memories still had an intense hold over me. I still couldn’t envision that joyous future, no matter how many times I affirmed that I was already there.

I started looking deeply and inwardly into what affirmations are and aren’t, and what promises they hold and what its limitations are.

In my personal experience, affirmations CAN:
• Temporarily disengage your mind from negative thinking by your replacing them with positive thoughts
• Offer a glimpse into how you truly feel on the energetic level (more on that later)
• Temporarily raise your vibration
• Strengthen a belief that is already there

In my personal experience, affirmations CAN’T:
• Change your behavior for the long haul if you’ve really got big issues to heal from
• Guarantee that the formula of words can permanently shift you into the vibration of those words
• Make you into a whole new person with just affirmations alone
• Turn you into a positive thinker
• Change your entire outlook on life
• Be comprehensive enough to direct major inner transformation

When I first started working with affirmations, I found out some crucial surprises about myself. For example, I looked into the mirror and said, “I deserve to be treated fairly.” I noticed how much that statement didn’t resonate with me. I thought, “No, I don’t deserve to be treated fairly at all.”

After some intense hypnotherapy and journaling, I went back to the mirror and said the affirmation again, and this time, I thought, “Ah, yes, yes I do.”

That’s when I understood what affirmations are and aren’t. There is power in using an affirmation to find out where you are energetically in the before and after stage, but often, we need so much more than words alone to help us heal the layers and decades of wounds within.

Thus, affirmations might temporarily change your thoughts of the moment (and only if you are always conscious of what they are), but it may not be enough to change your fundamental beliefs.

It’s even more confusing when we say affirmations while studying the Law of Attraction. I remember a time not very long ago where I worried over every bad thought I had by picturing the horrible consequences I would attract from that thought.

The unintended effect is that the fear of thinking the wrong thing adds another layer of negativity to the whole mix. Strangely, it reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where George Costanza kept repeating, “Serenity now, serenity now” only to have Lloyd Braun warn him of the consequences of saying that affirmation: “Serenity now, insanity later.”

In my personal experience, affirmations DON’T work when:
• These are words you merely say ritualistically, rather than a behavior you truly integrate into your Being
• You use the affirmation to will yourself or the Universe to make something so (i.e., the affirmation “my income is constantly increasing”)
• They are used alone without other forms of spiritual healing that resolve wounds at the root level

In my personal experience, affirmations DO work when:
• You use them to gauge where you are energetically, like a thermometer that measures how much you resonate with one statement over another
• You realize its limitations and combine affirmations with other ways to advance your healing, for example, through chakra healing, cutting cords of attachment, reading the Akashic records, EFT, etc.
• You integrate the spirit of the affirmations into your Being fully
• The words are charged with emotion from the heart and resonate with your entire Being

A fabulous way to check if you’ve fully integrated the affirmation is to watch your consciousness during knee-jerk reactions. If you still react in fear the same old way as you always have, is it because you simply haven’t repeated that affirmation enough times to make it stick? No, affirmations are not prescribed medication with dosage instructions. Nor are they meant to function as crutches to prop yourself up emotionally.

If the affirmation doesn’t resonate with you (and be totally honest with yourself), it simply means that you are energetically not where you say you are. And that’s okay. It’s a prompt to seek other forms of healing and to take rightful courses of action to get to where you want to Be.

Ironically, as a spiritual Being, you already know it all. So what is our problem, really? Where we don’t know it yet is in our bodies and in the physical, and hence that is why we all incarnated to Earth. Now, wouldn’t it make sense that to integrate what you already know, you have to actually put it into action? Yes, actions are louder than words!

So, what could you do?

As for me, I removed the affirmations from my mirror and unsubscribed from all the affirmation-of-the-day emails. I simply tuned out of that conversation as a whole.

Then, I paid very close attention to my consciousness by screening every thought that passes through. As a habit now, I file in a mental inbox all the thoughts and beliefs I would like to change or heal. I don’t write down what I should think anymore.

Instead, I now look at the bigger picture, from a broader perspective, at 50,000 feet going up, and also digging 50,000 feet going down, asking soaringly and deeply of myself, what is this thought really about? Why is it there? What’s underneath?

When you address the issues at the root level, you are literally excavating the icky foundation that might be there and starting over, instead of getting new curtains (affirmations) to shield your reality.

Spiritual friends, reality is not a bad word. Your present circumstances hold many clues as to how you are going to shift to the next place of thinking and Being. If something is holding you back, don’t cover it up with affirmations or will yourself with words. Instead, go deeper and find a mode of healing that works for you.

Do that inner work, make those outer changes in the physical dimension, and then go back to the affirmation to see if you still need it. Talk to your Guides (who will often give you homework that is action-oriented, not mental-oriented.) Make an intention to fully integrate the spirit of the affirmations you love into your entire Being.

Above all, recognize that the place where you really want to be is a state of inner knowing where affirmations aren’t necessary at all.

For more information on working with your Guides, cutting cords of attachment, chakra healing or reading your Akashic records, please consult Lisa Wechtenhiser at Practically Intuitive.

Copyright © 2011 Becoming Extraordinary

This article contains the writer’s expression of personal opinion. The information presented in this article is not a substitute for any kind of professional, medical or psychiatric advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect you need any kind of help, always seek advice from a professional provider.

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6 Comments

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  1. Patricia

    This is a good post just full of information. Words are just words without action…and integration of thoughts, ideas, and actions with the values and other parts of the whole – invaluable. Thank you

    I so often think I do not believe enough…I have not trained myself to add an action to help my belief and find faith…when I get busy working forward – wow it is powerful indeed.

      

  2. Scraps

    Affirmations have never really registered with me and this is helping me to see why. My knee-jerk reaction to pretty much the whole practice was a big 'ol eye roll and "whatever." Knowing that I'm not the only one who doesn't immediately take to them is a nice thing.

      

  3. Julie | A Clear Sign

    I agree, affirmations are best at gauging where you are at the moment, and you know you have a problem to deal with if you just don't believe what you're saying (and how much of one it may be, if you start to cry over it!) I never have quite understood them or even LOA except as a way to understand what I want, where I would like to go, what I would like to improve, and what actions I need to take to get on my way.

      

  4. Sol

    I LOVE affirmations!

    I really, really do.. but like subliminals (effectively unconscious affirmations) they are used as enhancers, meant to supplement the processes you are adoing. At least that's how I feel. I don't believe they can effectively change you without you using another practice – such as visualization, together with it.

      

  5. Patti Foy

    This was an exceptional post! Thanks, Anni and thanks, Lisa!

    I was nodding and nodding — and had a similar experience to your mirror experience… more than once, now that I think of it. It really is enlightening to realize that, as you put it, you're not resonating with a certain positive idea.

    You were obviously very conscientious as you played with and investigated affirmations. Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us so many of your findings. Fascinating.

      

  6. Janet-Intuition&Answ

    Thanks for sharing this post with us. Way back when, I'd read all the books, written and index-carded my affirmations, read them daily, multiple times, and was very disappointed when nothing changed. Well, I hadn't realized the *I* had to change *from the inside* *first*. My affirmations were more things I was trying to convince myself of instead of a reminder/placeholder of a specific vibrational level.

    I wound up doing a lot of energetic healing and study, and now I'm coming at affirmations from a totally different perspective. From that new perspective, I'm finding them to be a useful part of my intuitive toolbox.

      

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