What we think, we become. ~ Buddha
We are all using affirmations all the time, whether we realise it or not.
Affirmations can be positive or negative. Here are some examples of affirmations:
I am no good with money. (negative affirmation)
I am happy and confident/ (positive affirmation)
For many people, it can feel like their mind is in charge of them, rather than the other way around. Left to their own devices, our minds transmit thoughts to us all day long without us even questioning it. These thoughts are a mixture of reactions, conditioning, beliefs and other people’s opinions.
For example, someone who didn’t experience much love growing up might have created the belief that they are unlovable. Their mind will then transmit thoughts to them in line with this belief on a regular basis and these thoughts become so true for them and as a result they will then attract situations and experiences that serve as evidence for this, proving them right and so it goes on.
The problem is that when we are not aware of what we are transmitting, or where these thoughts have come from, we take it as true and create situations and experiences in line with our thoughts.
I use affirmations when I am running, saying in my mind “Every day, in every way I am becoming healthier and healthier”. Using this affirmation stops me focussing on how far I have left to go or how unfit I might feel! I have noticed that I feel much more positive and able to run when I am thinking in this way.
It is no coincidence that many top business people and athletes use affirmations and visualization!
We create our own reality and to create positive experiences we need to create positive thoughts.
Using Positive Affirmations
I learnt about the use of positive affirmations by reading a book called “You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay, which I recommend if you are interested in learning more about affirmations.
Examples of positive affirmations are:
- I am proud of myself.
- Positive energy flows through me; each cell of my being is awake and alive with joy.
- I radiate love and joy to all I meet.
- I am whole, complete and perfect just as I am, right where I am at.
Dealing With Negative Thoughts
The first step towards creating more positive experiences, is realising that your negative thoughts are not who you really are. Even if you feel like you have evidence for this, it isn’t the truth of you. If you are trying to change negative behaviours, focussing on them or believing that you can never change doesn’t help. A good rule of thumb is that if a thought makes you feel negative or brings you down, it isn’t true. If it lifts you up and supports you, it is.
The trick is to create more uplifting and supportive thoughts which can be done by using affirmations. Using affirmations isn’t about lying to yourself or pretending things are different to what they are but about supporting yourself and taking control of what you can have control over: your mind. We cannot control what life brings our way, but we can control our reaction to and our thoughts about what is happening (and ourselves). If I notice I am worrying about something that I can't change, I remind myself "All is well". This affirmation helps me to trust life and remember that I can choose my thoughts.
There are many different ways to deal with negative thoughts. Some people suggest ignoring them and some people say accept your thoughts compassionately and examine them and there are a myriad of suggestions in between. I think there is merit in lots of different ways and they are all about achieving the same goal and it will depend on you, how you tick and where you are in life. Explore different methods and see what works for you. Here are a few suggestions:
Byron Katie’s “The Work” is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It’s a way to understand what’s hurting you, and to address the cause of your problems with clarity.
Emotional Freedom Technique involves verbalising the problem or issue whilst using an affirmation phrase and “tapping” energy points on the body. When we take charge of our minds and choose and use affirmations that support us, affirmations can be a powerful tool for creating change. We can start feeding our minds.