We discussed the most powerful affirmation/s that most of us practice each day in the previous article. Almost every person who reads infrequently or otherwise has read the book ”The Secret” or seen the movie or both. Bookworms and diehard fans of self-help books would have also devoured books by Napoleon Hill, Anthony Robbins and other similar gurus.
Unfortunately, a great number of us have the propensity to read self-development books as if one were reading fiction. Not many put what they have read and digested into practice. Of the few who have actually put it into practice, a significant number give up after getting inspired for a couple of days. And then there are those handful who attempt to put into practice that which they have read and most people who give up, give up because it has not worked for them.
Positive thinking and affirmations have been around for centuries, thus millions and millions of lives inabshould have been impacted by now, which doesn’t really seem to be the case. The preponderance of success stories from the Nirmiti Nidra workshops is from people who have practiced diligently and implemented what they have learnt and assimilated. Affirmations have helped many ordinary people achieve extraordinary results in their lives. It has turned many ’failures’ into successes. It has created miracles in the history of human evolution. Yet, the vast majority of people who use affirmations find that it doesn't work.
Most readers of this blog are also familiar with affirmation techniques that no one told you about. The whole point of course, is not if they have been read, but if they have been implemented. And even as one puts it into practice, there are reasons why affirmations fail. The popular myth is that all one has to do is repeat positive statements day in and day out, and sooner or later they would work. Some wrote their desired outcome on a card, kept it on their person at all times and repeated the phrase over and over in their head, with or without a picture poster. Had the expected outcomes been exactly what was desired, millions of lives would have transformed. How many do you think have actually succeeded?
Yet there are many success stories that abound (quite a few from our workshop participants too), so there is no doubt that some affirmations do fructify, where many others fail. With a limited understanding of the powerful universal intelligence, the force of the collective intelligence, the inability to operate beyond our span of influence and control, it is still possible to enumerate why affirmations fail more often than one thinks. Contrarily there are times that affirmations do work, and we fail to realize that we have created this ourselves and take responsibility for it.
The irony is –
1. When it does work, we have not realized how powerfully our subconscious has created exactly that which we expected or anticipated.
2. When it doesnt work, we berate ourselves that we perhaps didnt do it correctly or that we were undeserving or even better, blame it on fate or destiny.
You already know from the previous article as to how you make affirmations work, powerfully yet unwittingly, unintentionally and unaware. Let us now look at the reasons why a vast majority of affirmations fail – knowledge of just these two things GALVANISES your self-development practice.
Inaccesibility to the Subconscious Mind
One of the major reasons why positive affirmations often don’t work is because they target the conscious level of our mind. This is also one of the reasons that NLP fails, which we shall discuss in a subsequent article on this blog. The purpose of an affirmation is to pass a command from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind. It is the subconscious mind which has the ability, for anything it accepts to be believable and true, to do whatever it takes to turn the expectation into reality.
Thus, for any practitioner of affirmations, it is important that the message gets transmitted to the subconscious mind but for the vast majority, who repeat their affirmations like a mantra within their conscious mind, fail to get it transmitted to their subconscious mind through their critical filter of dogmas, beliefs, values and principles.
Core negative beliefs
A core belief is something you very strongly believe is true about yourself irrespective of what anyone else says or thinks about you. When this core belief is deep rooted in your subconscious mind, affirmations to the conscious can hardly help. To know more about deep rooted core beliefs, you may wish to read this article elsewhere on this blog. Everyone knows that Jane Fonda was perceived to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, yet her autobiography reveals that she judged her physical appearance as inadequate and battled eating disorders for many years.
If the core negative belief is that you are worthless, useless, fat or ugly, this belief is true for you irrespective of what the actual reality may be and irrespective of hundreds of people telling you otherwise. A positive affirmation that clashes with a deep rooted core belief in your subconscious mind sets off an inner war, a conflict which uses a great deal of energy but a battle that only your subconscious mind will win as it fights for survival. What you desire fails to manifest.
Any affirmation has to be congruent with the present age on Planet Earth and compatible with present-day society created by collective desires and intelligence over many years. If you now affirm that, ”I am a rich loved king with loyal and faithful subjects’, it may have worked a few centuries ago, but can it really work in the present age? If your present life on planet earth (for those who believe in reincarnation) has ’n’ possibilities in line with the overall purpose for this life experience, can it work if one goes to ’n+1’? Perhaps not, right?
Affirmations also have to be believable to your own mind and yes, most definitely possible even as you repeat it to yourself. There is a trick that you can choose (pun intended). For example, if your body is totally out of shape and you affirm that, ”I am in perfect shape and very attractive” or if you are penniless and you affirm that, ”I am a millionaire” or ”I am earning millions every year”, do you think your own mind believes them as you recite? Most likely not.
The trick in such affirmations is to use the words, ”I choose”. Not try saying, ”I choose to be a millionaire” or ”I choose to earn millions each year” or ”I choose to be in perfect shape” or ”Everything I do is getting me closer to the perfect weight and shape”. Does that make a difference? Indeed it does.
Recent research by scholars has dismissed the utility of self-esteem as well as programs designed to improve it. I am fully aware that there are so many ’training programs’ conducted on this subject, but their efficacy has either not been measured or it has failed to deliver. Self-esteem, to begin with, is not a constant factor, but can fluctuate every day, or even within a day. It is more like the dollar-versus-rupee in the financial markets.
You ought to remember that self-esteem is not just the holistic feeling about ourselves but also how we feel/think about ourselves in specific domains or roles in our lives (as a parent, employee, boss, child, sibling, etc.). Inevitably, the greater the importance of a specific role or domain, the greater the impact on our overall self-esteem. Very high self-esteem, like in case of narcissists, if also not a good thing, and often quite brittle. People who are highly vulnerable to criticism and negative feedback often find that it stunts their growth.
The reason why this topic is important for this particular article is that positive affirmations make people with low self-esteem feel worse about themselves, as recent research suggests. Positive affirmations appear dramatically contrary to the existing set of beliefs in a given moment and therefore fail as explained in a couple of paragraphs above. You cannot possibly affirm ”I am a great success in everything that I do” when you are feeling miserable about yourself. Here is the trick – change this affirmation to ”Everything I do is helping me to persevere until I succeed.” Is the allure of self-esteem then a mirage?
Transience and Impermanence
You cannot undo years of thinking and years of ’wrongly’ programming your subconscious mind overnight. It needs diligence, perseverance, daily practice and commitment to overwrite what you have previous written in stone. Even as you must understand that you get what you expect, not what you want, the only reason so many people claim that affirmations do not work is because they give up before the affirmation manifests in their lives. They have ’tried’ it for a couple of days or for a week. You must diligently practice every single day for at least a month! And you need to know, how to create what you expect and not what you want. Success and self-improvement go hand-in-hand, but there is no success with transcience, only with unfailing diligent regularity.
Associating pain with inevitable action
The best manner in which this can be explained is through an example. Let us say that your affirmation is related to wealth or abundance. The inevitable action in this case is spending. There will be multiple instances in your life (even as you affirm) that you have to spend. Now, typically, most people seeking wealth associate spending with pain.
You know through our workshops that our subconscious mind does everything in its capacity to increase all those things associated with pleasure and avoid all those events that cause pain. Can you imagine the message that you are sending to your subconscious if each time you spend, causes you pain and grief? Turn this to your advantage instead by affirming each time you expend that ”I always have plenty to spend”.
The workshops that we conduct arm you with immense information on your subconscious mind, how to access it and program it for your health and success. Irrespective of whether you become a part of this unique group or otherwise, there are a few things you must know.
Get out of the way and let the practice be the practice.
The Importance of Negative Emotions.
The Three Universal Laws - how your mind processes suggestions
Indulging in interrogative Self-talk is a wonderful alternative. This recent ground-breaking study sheds light on motivating goal-directed behavior through the interrogative form of the simple future tense. Interrogative self-talk is about asking questions and thus, neither positve or negative. The innate curiosity built into our subconscious minds propel it to probe for answers to powerful questions. For a situation which states ”I am terrible at presentations”, you have the choice to indulge in positive affirmations like ”I am delivering a great presentation” or indulge in interrogative self-talk like ”What can I do to make my presentations really interesting?"
The author, Rajesh Seshadri, is an internationally recognized Certified Leadership Coach, Certified Success Coach and Certified Life Coach. He is also a NLP Master Practitioner, facilitator and therapist. The basket of therapies is holistic and integrative adopting techniques from Psychotherapy, NLP, Silva, Gestalt, Hypnosis and Silva UltraMind. Additionally, he is a seasoned corporate professional who continues to serve as a whole-time Director and Board Member. You can contact him here.