When you think of it, an affirmation is really anything you say or think to yourself. Meaning, you already practice affirmations 24/7.
When you make it a conscious versus subconscious process, however, you exercise your power to, literally, choose the beliefs that will run your life.
The alternative is to allow subconscious beliefs to produce self-talk that can be quite limiting, fear-inducing or just plain harsh.
Every day you have about 60,000 thoughts. Most of them are not original. They are not “your own” beliefs at all. You acquired most of them in childhood—in developmental processes that supported your survival at the time.
You may think your thoughts reflect “the reality” of what you experience. It is more the case, however, that your experience of the world is dramatically altered by your thoughts—especially ones tied to core (self-concept) beliefs.
One of the most limiting beliefs in our culture, for example, is the association between a desire for personal happiness and selfishness. As far as your brain is concerned, nothing could be further from the truth! Happy people tend to generate happiness out to others.
The most important reason to practice affirmations?
Back to happiness! It is your most important responsibility. Why?
Without doubt, when happy, your brain functions in ways that optimally support your mental and physical health.
In addition to a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercise, what best supports your overall health is your ability to protect your happiness from every day stressors. You need thinking patterns that allow you to sustain the highest level of inner happiness possible in every circumstance.
A practice of affirmations is a perfect way to train your subconscious mind, the part of the mind that runs all the systems of the body. As your body’s operating system, it is designed to help you do more than merely survive, to thrive. To break a habit, you need to know how to engage its cooperation as it is also the part of the mind that controls the formation of habits.
Used consciously, affirmations tell your subconscious mind that you are aware it’s in your highest interest to change your thinking patterns, and that you are taking responsibility for this. In my experience, resistance to change usually means the subconscious mind does not “trust” that you feel safe enough to make changes.
You can create the thoughts and beliefs that will support and inspire you to live and create your best life, and do so easily and effortlessly. Here are a few guidelines and ten possible affirmations to practice:
- Notice your thoughts to understand the power of words on your emotions, behaviors, life.
Begin by paying attention to your thoughts. Your beliefs started as thoughts that were repeated, and reinforced. Your beliefs are merely habitual patterns you learned as a child. At the time, they worked to protect you. Now many may limit you from creating the life you desire.
Your thoughts and beliefs compel you to take action. They shape your behaviors because they cause emotions – the chemical messengers that “decide” whether certain neurons fire or not. Emotions are energy that move you to take action or stop you in your tracks, accordingly.
Consider, for example, how differently you would feel if a colleague described a project you had worked on as “mediocre” or “okay” or “perfect.” Each one of those words is likely to draw a different emotional response from you. Each may also create different behaviors should you work on a project with this person in the future. Can you feel the different emotions each produces?
Each time you complain or list how you’ve been wronged, for example, you are affirming what you want. The subconscious mind is always eavesdropping to note your top interest. What you focus on is what it focuses on. This may not make sense to your conscious mind, however, as it operates by different rules entirely.
The bottom line is that your thoughts create outcomes. Identify ones that no longer serve you.
- Realize thoughts are learned, and can be relearned!
The good news is that all thoughts are learned, and can be re-learned. Naturally, when talking about changing beliefs, the only beliefs you are interested in changing are ones that are limiting, that is, ones that trigger your survival fears and activate your body’s “fight or flee” response.
You likely want to identify and replace these beliefs as they cause defensiveness in your interactions with loved ones. When you are defensive, you are not free to talk or listen with your heart in situations where you most need to be present – when you or a loved one is upset or in pain.
- Choose enriching affirmations that calm your mind and body.
Create your own affirmations or start with the ten listed below.
- I am willing to think thoughts that enrich my life and relationships.
- I love and accept every aspect of myself and my life – just as I am.
- I consciously choose what is good for my mind, body and spirit.
- I consistently act to cultivate healthy, mutually enriching relationships with those I love.
- I have the power and wisdom and strength to handle all situations in my life.
- I allow and welcome change, new understanding and growth when I face challenges.
- I let go of blame and speak my truth authentically — without judging my self or others.
- I am focused on what is good, wonderful in my life.
- I seek to honestly assess areas of needed growth, and rise above problems by framing them as solutions.
- I allow myself to feel boundless joy now.
- Practice your affirmations until they “feel” real inside.
Memorize your affirmations or put them on index cards and read them throughout the day, at minimum each morning and last thing before sleeping at night. It’s also helpful to state each one three times. When you do, be sure to smile, and feel that smile radiate throughout your body.
At first, they may not feel real. Eventually, your subconscious mind will be persuaded, by your diligence, to integrate them as a new set of beliefs about you and your life. This will replace or weaken old life-limiting beliefs, meaning you will, in time, stop thinking thoughts that lowered your esteem, prevented your brain from working optimally to solve problems, or blocked your happiness!
Of course, you may not believe affirmations work. This too is an affirmation, however.
If you’ve tried affirmations before, were diligent, yet found they didn’t work for you, you may wish to consider professional assistance. Your subconscious mind will not “permit” change if, according to its data pool, you do not really, “really” want or feel comfortable with the change. It needs to be persuaded that you’re okay with the change deep down inside.
Affirmations are a practice that can help you energize the kind of focus you need to lighten your mental load, to make you smile, to help you appreciate the little things that other people do (for you – but also in general). If you want to transform your life, more quickly than imagined, start practicing affirmations today.
Expect to feel wonderfully happy. Celebrate happiness as one of your most important responsibilities.
With this mindset, it’s guaranteed to work.