What I’m going to say may be a little bit controversial, so get ready ladies to clutch your pearls, because I’m busting a myth about affirmations. I’m just going to give it to you straight, no chaser. I’m telling you why your affirmations do not work.
Now, let me be honest and say, I’ve been one to put affirmations out on social media. I love a good affirmation myself. So why am I saying affirmations don’t work? What I’m saying is why YOUR affirmations don’t work.
Affirmations in general, in all honesty, they are a fantastic tool for a couple of reasons. Number one is we know habit comes from repetition. Our subconscious mind also responds to repetition. So when you make statements repeatedly, your subconscious mind, which doesn’t have that analytical skill of judging whether something is true or not, accepts it as fact.
Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined, so when you say affirmations, your subconscious mind accepts the suggestion as if it believes it to be true because you said it is true.
Affirmations are also a great thing for self-talk. Something that we’re all so terrible at, especially as women, is we always put ourselves down. Typically, affirmations are positive. It’s a language that is kind to ourselves. They are a way of empowering ourselves.
So why am I saying that affirmations don’t work? When people end up making the same mistakes, they end up saying that affirmations are rubbish, affirmations don’t work. I bet you’ve probably said an affirmation like, “I love myself, I love myself, I love myself.” What was the net effect of that? Did you love yourself more? No, you probably didn’t.
Here are the five most common mistakes that I see people making when it comes to affirmations, and how you can fix them to make your affirmations more effective.
1. Creating affirmations for things they don’t actually really want
What? Surely, if I’m repeating something, I must want it. You might be saying the words on a conscious level, but on a subconscious level, do you really want the thing that you’re saying to your subconscious mind?
I’ll give you an example. If you’re a smoker, and you go in to create affirmations about not smoking, “I am not a smoker, I am not a smoker, I am not a smoker.” That’s great. And that’s a very noble thing that you’re doing to stop smoking.
But if at some level of yourself, you’re thinking, “Smoking is bad for me, but I love the fact that it gives me a way to be social with my friends.” Or at the office, it was a way for you to have smoke breaks and gossip with your friends. It makes you look cool.
Whatever your reasons are, if at some level of yourself, you’re thinking, “I want to give it up,” but you actually really like it, it’s going to be hard for you to create an affirmation that actually works.
This is called cognitive dissonance, where there’s a conflict between what you believe and what you’re saying. If this exists, your affirmation is not really going to work.
2. Your affirmation is not believable to yourself
Your affirmation needs to be believable to yourself. I see those affirmations on social media, “I am a millionaire. I live an amazing life. I am skinny,” all of those things. If there’s cognitive dissonance with these affirmations, no matter how many times you say that affirmation, it’s not going to work.
Your conscious mind is your skeptic. It’s that mean girl that’s like, “Girl, please. You know, that ain’t true.”
For example, if you say, “I am a millionaire,” but the reality is, no, you’re not. And your mind is thinking, “What do you mean your millionaire? You don’t even have enough money to pay this month’s rent. So, what you’re talking about fool?” This is not going to work.
How do you fix this? What you do is you create an affirmation, that’s a stretch, but that’s believable.
For example, if you’re earning $50,000 a year, you saying, “I’m a millionaire” is so far out of the realm of your reality. But if you were to say, “I am earning double what I earned last year,” or “I’m earning triple what I earned last year,” to your skeptical mind, that could be plausible. You could believe that you could buy into that.
If you say “I am becoming more abundant. I am becoming wealthier,” your skeptic can buy into that, because now you’re not putting a number on it.
If you make $1, more than you did last year, that’s a true statement, and your skeptical mind can buy into that.
3. Your affirmations are not concise.
A key thing when it comes to creating your affirmations is to make them concise, make it something short to the point.
Something else to remember when you’re making your affirmations concise is make them powerful statements and infuse them with feeling emotion, because feeling emotion is the language of the subconscious mind. The more feeling you infuse into them, then the more powerful they become.
Make it short, make it easy to remember. Infuse it with feeling. And even when you say it to yourself, when you’re thinking your affirmations, say the word ‘feeling’ because then your subconscious mind is like, “Whoa, I need to pay attention here.”
Say your affirmations with energy with enthusiasm. Your subconscious mind will buy into that.
4. You create affirmations that are in the future.
The fourth mistake that I see people making when they’re creating affirmations, is they create their affirmations in the future. “I will be healthy. I will be rich. I will be abundant. I will be a nonsmoker.” What that does is it keeps the affirmation in the future. You’re always going to be chasing this line of ‘I will.’
Because your subconscious mind is like, “Oh no, we’re not there yet.” So an important thing to do is make them present, make it as if you are achieving it now.
“I am” is such a powerful statement. It truly is so powerful because it tells your mind that this is something that is happening now.
Make your affirmations in the present. Make statements like “I am,” or “I am becoming.”
5. Your affirmation is worded negatively.
Another mistake I see happening when people create their affirmations is when they are making it a negative – like “I will not eat junk food,” or “I will not spend lots of money.”
That’s great, but think about this. If I say to you right now, don’t think about a pink elephant. What’s the first thing that happens? Well, first of all, you’ve got to think about the pink elephant to then think the thought that “oh, I mustn’t think about the pink elephant.” So your focus is on the pink elephant.
Same thing with your affirmations. If your affirmation is “I will not eat junk food,” you’ve got to think about junk food to think about not eating junk food. And so a more powerful and better way to phrase your affirmation is – if it’s a health one where you want to stop eating junk food, you can say something like, “I choose to eat healthy foods that nourish my body.” That’s a more powerful way to put it, because now your focus is on choosing to eat healthy foods that nourish your body.
Or you can say “I choose to eat foods that make me feel good about myself.” Again, you’re focusing on the power of the doing, versus the negativity of the not doing.
One of the most powerful ways to really get your affirmations embedded into your subconscious mind is using your brainwave state. Most of the time when we’re conscious, when we’re awake, you’re in what’s known as the beta brainwave state. You’re super active. Your mind is super active. Your analytical skills are on. Your brain is very active when you’re in the beta brainwave state. It’s a little bit harder because when your mind is active, the skeptic kicks in. You absolutely can say your affirmations when you’re in the beta brainwave state, but you make it powerful through repetition.
An even more powerful state to be in when you say your affirmations is the brainwave state that is below beta. And that is alpha brainwave state. This is the state that you tend to go into when you’re relaxed, when you’re in reflection. This is the state that you start to go into when you go into meditation. Because your mind is more relaxed, it’s more open to suggestions. It is more open to hearing the affirmations and starting to embed them in your subconscious mind.
Another powerful time of day to do your affirmations is right before you go to sleep. In this state, you tend to kick into what is known as the theta brainwave state. This is the state where you’re almost falling asleep. You’re not quite awake, but you’re not yet sleeping. Again, your mind is even more suggestible. And so that’s a great time for you to go to bed, saying your affirmations right before you go to sleep.
I hope that was useful for you, five reasons why your affirmations aren’t working and five easy ways that you can fix that to make your affirmations even more powerful and even more effective. And as always, I want to remind you that you are worthy to be, to do, to have whatever it is your heart desires.
Sandra has a podcast episode on this topic in the WORTHY Podcast:
You can also watch it on YouTube: