‘Do affirmations work?’ is probably the most frequently asked question I’ve had from the c2,500 participants that have been through my ‘Resilience/Mental Toughness’ webinars in the last 15-months.
For many people, I’m sure that affirmations do work and make a real difference. However, for me, merely repeating a saying does nothing unless I believe it and have evidence to back it up.
I can repeatedly say, ‘Every day in every way, things are getting better and better’ or ‘I am enough’ (two of the most popular affirmations I hear people use). However, if I don’t believe, deep down, that they are true, I can say them as many times as I want, but it won’t make any difference.
If my subconscious doesn’t believe it, then neither will my conscious mind. For affirmations to work, I need evidence.
I only have three affirmations; two I use as soon as I recognise that I’m triggering irrational thoughts around a perceived shortage of money or clients (which is firmly rooted in the lack mentality I learnt from my parents as a child). The third I use when I find myself procrastinating. I have plenty of evidence to back up all three, so when I say them, I believe them and they help move me out of learnt helplessness and into action.
When I was deciding on my affirmations, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote as many examples I could find for each one so that it was impossible to argue against them. I then transferred the information to A3 Post It notes and put them up on the walls of my office; I still have them up, behind the door, just in case I need a reminder!
Now, whenever I have a ‘wobble’ or find myself procrastinating, I use the relevant affirmation. If my internal saboteur wants to get in on the act, and I find myself saying something like, ‘Yeah, but ….’ I can shut it down quickly with pre-prepared facts!
So, if you have affirmations that don’t appear to be working, look for the evidence. I recommend using a pad and paper for this as we remember 700% more of what we physically write down, and you can use it to refer back to and as a visual cue, if your internal critic tries to trip you up. For example, if your affirmation is, ‘Every day in every way things are getting better and better’, find as many examples as possible to back it up (you might want to spend five minutes doing this at the end of each day).
If your mantra is, ‘I am enough’, write down all the ways that you consider yourself to be enough; not that you need any for this one. However, if you’re like me, just saying it won’t convince my subconscious, but evidence will!
N.B. If you’re struggling and need some support, especially during this challenging time, please do reach out, either to a friend, family member or health professional. I’m also here to help (in the strictest confidence). You are not alone.