Do affirmations really work
The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. … With each positive declaration, your unconscious will cry out, “it’s not true, it’s not true!”
Control your thoughts and you create your reality. A positive mindset begets positive end results.
These popular tenets are espoused by the likes of Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Anthony Robbins and countless other self-help gurus. The problem is, they don’t actually work.
Consider the last time you really wanted something to happen… It could be a dream job, an ideal relationship or even a parking space in the city.
Having learned from the best, you used positive affirmations in the ways suggested. You wrote your desired outcome on a card, kept it on your person at all times and repeated the phrase over and over in your head. The end results of your efforts were probably not the ones you were looking for.
Having failed, you might have berated yourself. You didn’t do the affirmations correctly, you were somehow undeserving, or even: “it was meant to be.”
The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results is an inner struggle.
Let’s say you believe that you are “ugly and worthless” – a commonly held belief by depressed people all over the world. This belief may feel deeply and irrevocably true, no matter what the actual reality might be.
For example, at the peak of her career Jane Fonda was held to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, yet, as her autobiography reveals, she judged her physical appearance as inadequate and struggled with eating disorders for decades.
An affirmation can work, because it has the ability to program your mind into believing the stated concept. This is because the mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real or fantasy. When you watch a movie, and you start to laugh or cry, your mind is empathizing with the characters on the screen even though it is only Hollywood magic. There are both positive and negative types of affirmations. I’m sure many of us can remember being told as a child by a teacher, parent, or coach that we didn’t have the ability to do something (we were fat, clumsy, etc.). These unwholesome statements can stay with us in the conscious or unconscious mind, which we then reinforce throughout our lives.
For example, the fear of failure, according to Heinz Kohut, the grandfather of psychology of the self, is often intimately connected to a childhood fear of being abandoned, either physically or emotionally. When we fear failure, we tend to overestimate the risk we’re taking and imagine the worst possible scenario — the emotional equivalent of our primary caretakers deserting us. What we picture is so dreadful that we convince ourselves we shouldn’t even try to change. We avoid opportunities for success, and then when we fail, the unwholesome affirmation we unwittingly re-confirm is “Success just isn’t written in my stars,” or “It’s just not in my karma!”