Changing the conversation.
Positive affirmations can sometimes feel strange, even a little silly. Why is It that looking in a mirror and criticising what we see comes so naturally, while being kind and encouraging to ourselves can feel uncomfortable?
You may not always be mindful of it, but you’re in constant conversation with yourself. Your subconscious mind is ‘programming’ much of your behaviour based on a mental dialogue that’s always running in the background.
Unfortunately, this subconscious stream can be intensely negative in nature, causing limiting beliefs that are so deeply held you may not even be aware of them. Thoughts like, ‘I never do anything right’, or ‘I’m so overweight’, can
become so normalised in our minds we never even think to question them.
What are positive affirmations?
They’re positive statements you repeat to yourself often, to combat self-sabotaging, negative thoughts. Could
affirmations be the key to turning your subconscious to a better, more positive purpose? Simone Naidoo, life coach at On Purpose Personal Development, shares more insight on the power of positive affirmations.
How do they work?
Simone says 80-95% of our behaviour is a result of the belief systems rooted in our subconscious mind. ‘This part of our mind cannot discern between fact and fiction. It accepts whatever is placed in it,’ she explains. Repetition of a thought or an emotional or traumatic event, such as a near-death experience, can entrench these thought cycles into our subconscious, which shapes our behaviour.
Similarly, Simone adds, positive affirmations can be utilised to rewire the subconscious and change unwanted
behaviour patterns. Using affirmations every day takes advantage of ‘neuroplasticity’, meaning the neurons of your brain will actually reorganise themselves and form new neural pathways, as your subconscious begins to accept what you repeatedly affirm to be true. Instead of immediately jumping to those negative thoughts about yourself, your brain can be retrained to instil belief and confidence to move forward with positive patterns of behaviour.
Why are we inclined to think negatively?
Numerous studies have found humans are predisposed to negative thinking. Our brains are thought to have evolved to purposely have negative bias in a biological effort to keep us safe. While our brains develop systems to identify and react to danger, this also makes us particularly susceptible to negative thinking. The brain reacts more strongly to negative stimuli, showing a greater surge in electrical activity than when presented with something positive.
Unfortunately, this stronger reaction means our attitudes are more influenced by things we consider negative.
Who should be using affirmations?
‘Behaviour must be corrected in the mind first, before the body can follow, so positive affirmations are psychological reprogramming techniques that can be used across any personal development modality,’ says Simone.
Whether it’s a physical, emotional or psychological problem, she explains, the first required step is a change in
the thought pattern that created it. ‘I always tell my clients, a negative mind cannot give you a positive life.’
How do you get started?
According to prolific motivational author, Louise Hay, the most powerful affirmations are those you say out loud when you’re in front of your mirror. Louise suggested that doing so helps make you more aware of the feelings reflected back at you; where you’re open to your affirmations, and where you’re resisting them. This could help you pinpoint the thoughts you need to work on changing. Although difficult at first, Louise advised mirror work as a way to become less self-critical: ‘Very soon your mirror becomes your companion, a dear friend instead of an enemy.’
- I love, approve and accept myself as I am.
- My income is constantly increasing.
- I am worthy and deserving of all good.
- I do work I love and am well paid.
- My life is a joy and flows with ease.
- I love life and life loves me.
Why do they work for some and not for others?
‘Belief! It’s the placebo effect. The mind, when firmly in a belief state will create its own reality through perception and experience,’ Simone says. People tend to believe their problems can be fixed by some outside force, but, Simone
explains, ‘you’re a closed system; nothing outside you can impact you without your conscious permission’.
She advises that remaining in a perpetual state of victimhood will never allow you to overcome your problems. There’s no sense in placing blame on anyone for life’s problems as, ‘you cannot overcome anything in your life if
your mind isn’t mastered. Every spiritual teaching preaches this.’ Once you’ve gained awareness that you’re the only thinker in your own mind, you’ll realise, just like your clothes and food, you can choose your thoughts, she suggests.
According to Louise, simply saying affirmations is only part of the process. She encouraged people to prepare an atmosphere where their affirmations could flourish. ‘Affirmations are like seeds planted in soil. Poor soil, poor growth. Rich soil, abundant growth. The more you choose to think thoughts that make you feel good, the quicker the affirmations work.’
It ’s a very simple premise – loving yourself. I’ve been criticised for being too simplistic, and I have found that the simple things are usually the most profound. – Louise Hay
What if affirmations just aren’t working for me?
If you find you aren’t experiencing the changes you hoped for through positive affirmation, Simone suggests trying other personal development tools, like gratitude. Positive affirmations aren’t the only tool for thinking more positively.
Many studies have found gratitude changes your mental and emotional state for the better, showing that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.
‘I would also recommend going for alternative energy healing work. Our bodies are perfect storage devices, and they store the negative memories from all our wounds and traumas, large and small. Energy work, such as massage and Reiki, can help remove the blocked “Prana” or life force trapped in those areas,’ Simone says.
For more info on positive affirmations and positivity, visit On-purpose.co.za
An affirmation for every day of the month
We’ve put together some great affirmations for each day of the month – simply click on the image to open it.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM