[ What’s the point of affirmations || What do successful affirmations look like || Are affirmations every day too much || I don’t believe the affirmations, will they still work || The neuroscience of affirmations || Using affirmations with brainwave entrainment ]
Affirmations are massively undervalued.
I think one reason for this is that they are both oversold and undersold at the same time. Oversold because we are led to believe that fast results are normal and therefore when we don’t get them we give up. And undersold because we talk to ourselves in every waking moment either with intent or just out of habit.
What’s the point of affirmations
We’ll get to some science soon but for now consider that if you are constantly talking to yourself, then why not choose to talk to yourself intentionally at least for part of your day.
Lets keep this simple.
Imagine you are responsible for motivating and making a person feel valued.
Would you ask them or say things like “How could you be so stupid?” or “You can’t do it” or “I wish you were different” or “They don’t care about you”?
I would hope not.
So why do we say these things and worse to ourselves?
Good question but not worth exploring.
Rather; imagine how much better it would be if your natural thoughts were more like.., “Haha, oops, I’ll do better next time” or “I’ve got this, bring it on” or “Ahhh.., the joy of being me” or “Create a line people, one autograph at a time”. (Haha; be creative with self talk)
And if you add this practice to your use of the roXiva RX1 and at regular times during the day.., you will begin to reprogram first the thoughts, then the words spoken and action taken, and then the results you get.
And by results I mean not just achievements, but results in how you feel about yourself and life too.
What do successful affirmations look like
Again lets keep this simple:
Positive statements that are easy to repeat and encourage positive feeling to come with them. Sometimes this means being specific instead of general. What I mean by that is a statement of “I am happy” is general and is a big jump from feeling unhappy.
However, “I am happy that the sun is shining” is specific and believable even to an unhappy person and will therefore lay the foundation for more to follow.
Don’t get too caught up in how to create the perfect affirmation. They can (and as I’ll discuss later, should…) change regularly as you get some momentum going.
So for example:
“I am worthy” is good but could be a step too far.
“I did a good job on that article” is better because it is specific to something accomplished.
“I am good at writing articles” is better still because it assumes future success as well.
“You are really good at writing (..insert name here..), well done” is even better and here’s why…
Talking to yourself as a second person
This is interesting. Positive affirmations that contain the word ‘you’ instead of ‘I’, are often more powerful and accepted more readily by the brain and the unconscious mind.
So in other words you are saying them to yourself as if it’s coming from someone else.
For instance saying to yourself, ‘you are a confident person’ (add your name at the end for even more acceptance), has been shown in scientific experimentation to be more powerful than saying ‘I am a confident person’.
They aren’t 100% sure but I suspect that one of the reasons is that we are mostly conditioned from a very young age to seek and accept approval from outside of ourselves. And only later do we learn (hopefully) that the only real lasting sense of self value HAS to come from the self!
This ‘I vs you’ distinction also has a little to do with leadership and decision filters and frame of reference filters (NLP meta programs) of self and/or others. IE: Some people are more likely to take someone else’s opinion as having more weight to it than their own opinion. Especially noticeable with repetition.., and as such people will change sometimes their own opinion rather than be in conflict.
Either way, we can use this tendency to our advantage.
So by saying.., ‘I love you (..insert your name here..)’ instead of ‘I love myself’; you are in effect giving yourself external validation from internal intention and focus. A unique and powerful distinction I think.
Are affirmations every day too much
Some people can do something every day with as much enthusiasm and benefit each time but this is actually uncommon.
Research into long term happiness shows that habituation of practices leads to them being less effective at creating the same level of happiness.
In follow up studies of people employing new practices, it has been shown that those that do them once a week have a better chance of reporting a greater score out of 10 of overall happiness than those that do them more often.
Variety and timing of affirmation
Now wait a minute, I hear you think.., how does doing it less often relate to creating a habit like meditation or gratitude processes where people are encouraged to do it every day?
Conventional wisdom suggests for instance that keeping a daily gratitude journal is useful for happiness. But one study actually revealed that those who had been assigned to do that ended up less happy than those who had to count their blessings only once a week.
So timing is important. As is variety.
It turns out: with kindness practices, that participants of such studies who were told to vary their good deeds ended up happier than those forced into kindness habits.
Variety in affirmations is actually really easy. And therefore variety becomes a game and an honouring of your present moment needs.
Become your own safest person to be around! Get used to saying positive things to yourself and about the world around you. Do this and you will start to like yourself! I know for some people that it seems obvious to like yourself but for many it just isn’t the case.
We are often harder on ourselves than we would ever be on a friend; sometimes even than a stranger.
Many of our opinions of ourselves and aspects of our personality were formed when we were very young. So there is a very valid argument to say that we should speak to those aspects of ourselves as if they are still very young too.
What does this mean?
It means be kind to yourself.
Would you tell an upset 5 year old in an angry voice to get over it and call them a F*****g idiot?
No you wouldn’t.
So don’t say it to yourself either.
I don’t believe the affirmations, will they still work
It doesn’t matter if you believe them or not.
Sure if you do believe them, then you are going to get the benefit of emotional amplification of the words and a quicker more powerful result.
But who really uses affirmations for things they already believe?
Some do; and all should; but most don’t.
Most people want to affirm something they don’t yet believe but want to.
There are two important things to know about this and I’ve mentioned the first one before.
Firstly; you can adjust your affirmations to be more acceptable to you.
For instance- “I’m excited about earning more money” instead of “I’m a millionaire”.
Words have their own power
Secondly.., words have power regardless of how they are used. So saying you love bathing in the sun may not be the same as saying you love yourself, but the word love is still being repeated and becoming a more common thought leading to becoming a more common feeling.
If saying “I’m grateful for my life” is a step too far.., then start with “I wish I was grateful for my life” until you start to feel the change in your body and can actually find things to be grateful for.
It works.., try it! Even wishing you were something brings quite quickly with it the actual feeling of it.
The neuroscience of affirmations
Research around using affirmations usually centres around what’s called self affirmation theory. Not to put a negative slant on life or society but there are countless examples of events and/or people that knowingly or not will present you with views of yourself or life that are less than useful.
These ‘threats’ to our sense or self worth and identity cause stress and self protection behaviours.
One of our basic needs as a human being is to protect our self integrity and worth. Research does in fact show that positive affirmations do have a significant effect on improving overall health and performance in a sort of feedback loop that propagates itself over time.
Affirmations change neurochemistry
In fact, fMRI scans of people who use self affirmation actually show that the brain is physically altered in a way that leads to changes in behaviour that can last for months if not years. People can be so set in their ways that even a message intended to increase their health and quality of life can be met with resistance as if the message is a threat.
Studies show that messages to be more active in life, which has numerous health benefits, will often be seen as a threat and therefore not acted upon.
However, if the person first affirms their values and sense of self as important, then adoption of a new way of being more active is significantly higher. This feeds into the self generating feedback loop of altered action, followed by social proof, followed by an increase in the altered action etc etc.
And as I outlined in the article on expectation and the placebo effect (link below), the affirmations don’t even have to be fully believed.
The irony then, is that the only belief that is needed to get benefit from affirmations is that affirmations have been shown to work!
Using affirmations with brainwave entrainment
What the research around affirmation shows is that focusing either in writing, spoken word or thought on your values and personal identity, has a significant effect on the information and events that you encounter afterwards.
So what you are doing when you affirm positive traits about yourself or positive traits you would like to be true about yourself, is pre-framing your life!
Life’s events are, by way of perception being reality, meaningless. Based on what associations, decisions and beliefs you have formed so far in life.., you in each new moment choose what an event means and that meaning can be pretty much whatever you want it to be.
In other words, by using affirmations, you are changing your future and what thoughts you will accept as true and what actions you will take.
Affirmation and trance states
Keeping this in mind when thinking about brainwave entrainment or audio visual entrainment (AVE), what you do before a session and during it will effect the experience. These technologies have the ability to produce some profound deep trance states.
While in an AVE induced trance state you will be both more open to suggestion and have greater access to memory and emotion. By combining the two, you can produce some powerful changes to your patterns of thought and action.
Keep the affirmations simple and enjoyable.
Even something as simple as “You deserve to relax and feel good” while you drift off into a sound and light session can be a nice way to go into it with intention and purpose.
It’s likely that you will at some point in the session forget to think about anything at all and this is perfect. There is no need to try hard, just let go and enjoy the ride.
But go into it with positive intention and that ride will be all the more enjoyable.
See you on the other side