Back in 2013, The New York Times quoted the self-help industry as being worth $11 billion per year.It seems like you, me, and everyone I know, are constantly trying to lose weight, have more money, change jobs, and find love. Yet, despite the thousands of dollars spent, the countless hours of study, and incredible amounts of energy expended, for most of us it’s a struggle to find the missing link that unlocks our desires.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from self-help, it’s that the only thing we can control is our mind. As a wise man once said…
And he’s not the only one. Teachers ranging from Lao Tzu to Napoleon Hill and Mahatma Gandhi said the exact same thing. It just makes sense. When you think about it, we can’t change external circumstances. What we do have the power to change, however, is the way we think about these things. Life is a chain reaction. The way we think affects how we feel, and our feelings create patterns of behavior which create our life. So it only makes sense to focus on changing our thoughts to change our lives.
The million-dollar question is, “How do I change my thoughts?” According to (nearly) every self-help guru on the planet, the answer to that is simple. Use Affirmations. Simply put, affirmations are touted as the magic bullet. Just say, think, write, or listen to a positive statement over and over and you will become it.
Unfortunately, there’s one big problem with affirmations. If you are mountains in debt and hate your job, saying, “I love my job,” and “I have plenty of money” will probably sound false. In fact, your mind will most likely start coming up with thousands of objections, which then puts you back in the negative thought spiral. Belief (or lack thereof) is why affirmations work so well for some people and terribly for others – even those like me, who have spent months saying the same positive affirmations.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like affirmations. On the surface, I think they’re a great idea. Plus, I don’t think all of the teachers who suggest it as a remedy for negative thinking are wrong. Affirmations just need to be tweaked, and that’s where afformations come in. Instead of affirming a statement that doesn’t seem real, afformations suggest posing your positive statement as a question. So, “I love my job” becomes, “Why do I love my job?” It’s easy to see that the mind has much less resistance to the question form than to the statement, and thus, the process of changing your thoughts can begin. Eureka!
As much as I’d like to take the credit for this neat little discovery, this isn’t just something I made up. I recently read “Afformations: The Miracle of Positive Self-Talk,” by Noah St. John. His theory is that unlike affirmations, afformations work because the human brain is wired to answer questions. That is, when asked, “Why am I so rich?,” your brain is actively coming up with answers and presenting you with opportunities that will answer this exact question.
Now, I didn’t title this post, “The Secret to Affirmations” just to bait you. There is, in fact, a secret to using these. Not only do afformations require repetition and focus, but they require something else that I believe most self-help books and programs leave out. Ready for the “secret?” *drum roll please* The secret is… action!
One reason I liked Noah’s book so much is that he includes action as one of the key steps to actually making afformations work for you. No matter how many positive statements you say, write, or listen to, nothing will change if you don’t step out and actually do something. Since we live in physical reality, each of us has an active role to play in changing our experience.
I don’t say this to overwhelm you. That action could be small. If you’re trying to lose weight, you could choose to go for a walk a few times each week instead of zoning out in front of the TV. (Bonus points if you think about afformations while you’re on your walk.) If you’re trying to change careers, you could revamp your resume so you can feel more confident applying for jobs. The point is, afformations aren’t magic, but they absolutely help, especially in the motivation department.
I recently used afformations to overcome an argument in my marriage. I simply asked, “Why is my husband so loving?,” and it was amazing how quickly the tension dissolved. My action at that moment was to say the afformation and let go of my need to be right in the argument. I’ve also recently tried out the afformation, “Why am I so thin and attractive at 125 lbs?” (with a result of decreased appetite and feeling motivated to take more salads to work) and, “Why did I easily get refunded?” (with the result of easily being refunded for a program I no longer wanted.) I’m also trying out, “Why do I love my job?,” “Why did I get hired as a copywriter at Evolving Wisdom?,” and, “Why do I thank God every day for my job?” Of course, the actions I took were to revamp my resume and to send out the job application, but I’ll be sure to update when I land the position.
If you get the book – and I highly suggest that you do, or at least pick up a copy from the library – you’ll see real case studies from people who have grown their businesses, lost weight, powered through marathons, found jobs, sold their homes, and more by using afformations. Like Nike says, “Just do it!”
So, here is my question for you: How are YOU going to use afformations today, and what action will you take to back up your statements?
I love to talk, so share, comment, and let me know how afformations are working for you.