Why Positive Affirmations aren’t working for you and how to fix it

Why Positive Affirmations aren’t working for you and how to fix it

via Thrive Global by Louise Jackson

Positive affirmations work by feeding your mind motivating statements which—when repeated often—can help to overcome negative or sabotaging thoughts. As research by the National Science Foundation found that of the tens of thousands of thoughts we have every day, around 80% of those are negative, it seems like positive mantras are something we all need.  

But whilst affirmations can have a remarkable impact on positively rewiring your thinking patterns, they can also do more harm than good if they aren’t used in the right way. So where does positive thinking end and toxic positivity begin? Here’s how to use affirmations that actually work for you. 

The History Of Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations may be very fashionable in the personal development world today, but far from being a new thing, they actually date back to the early 20th century. 

French psychologist and pharmacist Emile Coue noticed that when he told his patients how effective a potion was, they received better results than when he said nothing at all. 

The realisation that what we think impacts reality led to the development of a technique where he asked patients to repeat the words; “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”.

This form of autosuggestion brought with it some incredible results, but significantly it also failed many times. What Coue came to realise is something that is all too often glossed over today when using the power of affirmations: you need to really believe what you are saying in order for it to work. 

It is this power of belief that creates remarkable transformations, not the words alone which you speak. He discovered that when patients made their own independent judgement about their affirmations, his technique wouldn’t work. 

Why Using Positive Affirmations In The Wrong Way Causes More Harm Than Good

I’d always struggled with personal affirmations. Whenever I tried to suggest to myself something that felt so far out of reach, it just ended up making me feel worse, not better. Maybe you can relate?

Let’s imagine that your rent is overdue and your bank balance is currently at zero. How would repeating to yourself that you are financially wealthy beyond your wildest dreams feel? Would you be happy and excited or is it more likely that your brain would bring you back down to earth with a bump by informing you that you are in fact flat broke? 

Then I realised that I have been using positive affirmations all my life. I’d actually been using them in the right way, rather than the misguided representation they sometimes get. 

Whenever I was going through a hard time I would write in my journal telling myself it was all going to be ok, whenever I accomplished a task I didn’t want to do I would say “I’m so proud of you, you’re doing a great job”. If I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw I’d remind myself that I am beautiful in many different ways. 

Here is the real secret to affirmations: if you can’t find any truth in what you are saying, positive affirmations only make you feel worse...

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