Do Affirmations Really Work?

Brown serving table with coffee and white flowers

Do affirmations really work? For everyone? This is a very common question. My answer is yes…and no. Like everything else, affirmations can be used incorrectly. Hence, they can cause more harm than the good it was supposed to do.

If you’re interested in using affirmations, I encourage you to explore why you want to use them. Explore what values you are trying to reinforce. And lastly, decide if you will commit to the internal work necessary to build the solid foundations for the affirmations to really work.

Let’s take look deeper.

What are affirmations?

Affirmations are statements used to help you transform your thoughts and perceptions about yourself and the world. You can craft statements around topics that you want to improve your thoughts on. For example:

  • “I am abundant.”
  • “Everything that I need was already placed within me.”
  • “I can transform my story.”

Affirmations are based on science, the self-affirmation theory created by Claude Steele in the 1980s. Affirmations can be helpful but they are not meant to just be words you recite.

Why affirmations might not work for you

As I mentioned above, affirmations require you to do the internal work necessary to make them a reality. So, for example saying that I am abundant and that you feel you deserve good things while you have internal (and often subconscious) shame about money and wealth will create two different paradigms in your mind and life. Therefore, these thoughts are incongruent and most often, the negative thoughts will win out. This is how humans are wired. We remember negative experiences more than we remember positive experiences.

Consequently, if you are a person who struggles with low self-esteem, low self-confidence, anxious thoughts, or depressive thoughts, reciting affirmations will cause internal conflict and more stress that exacerbate your pain. Hence, you need assistance to help you explore your traumas, your existing worldviews and narratives, and any other difficulties you may experience.

Here, seeking therapy is more helpful for you. And there is no shame in this need because the overall goal of therapy, and of affirmations, is to help you become the person you desire to be. Your overall focus should be to seek holistic healing to help you live a purposeful, whole, and fulfilling life.

One other reason that I believe that affirmations do not always work is that they are focused solely on our power. Again, if we are only reciting things about our power, and we already feel powerlessness, affirmations only remind us of our brokenness. And by extension, they only focus on our body and soul, thereby, excluding the third part of the human condition, and that is our spirit.

For me, this is where affirmations also fall short. Affirmations can be used to connect to God and His power. But what if you don’t believe in God? Then, you are solely dependent on your own power to bring to life something you believe is unattainable for you. This creates further incongruency in your thoughts and your reality.

Can affirmations help you?

Yes, they can help you. You have the ability to craft the statements that are fitting for you and your beliefs about yourself and your world. Affirmations work because they help you to create new neural pathways in the brain. This means that you are literally changing and adapting your brain which, in turn, helps you to change and adapt your life. That is, your reality. You must do the internal work to explore trauma, pain, and negative and limiting thoughts. You will then be able to more quickly spot thoughts that are limiting and negative, and replace them with more helpful and affirming thoughts.

Now, your thoughts do not have to be grand and fake because if they feel unrealistic, then you are unable to connect to them. And as I mentioned above in point 2, you need to use thoughts that connect to all of your being. The first understanding about the human experience is that we are spiritual beings, not physical bodies that just have a spirit. God created us as spiritual beings in His image.

So, our affirmations are not solely dependent on our power because we were made to be reliant on God’s power. The second understanding is that since we are created to be connected to God’s Spirit, then we are never alone. So, you should say your affirmations as truth and with conviction.

Here are a few of my affirmations that I use daily:

  • “I am a child of God.”
  • “My life is purposed and abundant.”
  • “I am open to the journey, and not attached to the destination.”

So, in these affirmations, I have connected my soul, my spirit, and my body. These statements reflect a journey that I am on. It’s a journey that allows me to grow, adapt, change, and feel empowered with the understanding that I do not control life.

Final Words

So, I encourage you to find words that reflect who you are and who you want to be. And remember that affirmations are not fixed, they can change and adapt as you grow. They do work when said in faith and trust. However, as with faith, faith is useless if not done in conjunction with actions. Our actions must show discipline, dedication, perseverance, and intention.

Photocred: Kaylee Brayne/Unsplash.com

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