Why use affirmations?

Recently I suggested someone tried using affirmations and I was told they didn’t like the idea because it felt contrived.  I wrote this to explain why they were right and why they are supposed to be….

When we are unfit we have to force ourselves to exercise, it is not something we would naturally do, therefore it is contrived.

Healthy eating isn’t natural for many people so we contrive to do so for our health.

Positive thinking isn’t natural to some people, so we have to contrive to do so.

But, why do we need to?

Although I haven’t had training in either I am aware that both CBT and NLP back me up on my understanding that the way we think affects our level of happiness, confidence and self worth. The brain is actually fairly stupid and believes what we tell it, so if we constantly tell ourselves we are rubbish, a failure, worthless or stupid we will continue to believe this about ourselves and that limits our ability to enjoy our lives fully.

Thinking in this negative way becomes a habit, just like smoking, laziness or unhealthy eating. It’s easy to just pick up that chocolate bar, slump on the sofa and spark up a smoke. It is equally as easy to believe we are worthless.

To break out of any of these cycles we have to make effort to change and when it comes to thought processes one effective way is to change the way we speak about ourselves. We can do this through affirmations;  formulating and repeating out loud positive sentences help us change the way we think about ourselves.

The sentences we use do have to be created in a particular way and we have to listen to our own resistances to ensure we are not making a situation worse. When I started using them I found them quite traumatic and unhelpful to start with but in listening to myself and learning more about them I realised it took work to ensure that the phrase it suitably constructed.  More info on constructing affirmations can be found in my blog “Affirmations; why they don’t always work.”

So yes, affirmations are contrived, but they have to be to break the cycle of negative thinking.

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