Good Affirmations are Like Releasing the Brakes on Goal Achievement
When you start actively pursuing your goals, your mind often plays tricks on you to keep you safe. These mental tricks arise in the form of out-and-out fears, or just considerations, or reminders of real or assumed obstacles that will have to be overcome. These thoughts can then keep you stuck from taking the action you need to take to pursue your goals.
One of the purposes of affirmations is to combat these right up front, whether these “thoughts” are conscious or in our subconscious. Affirmations, particularly when coupled with visualizations, work to re-program the brain for success. And they are most effective when you are in a very emotional state.
So here are some guidelines for creating effective affirmations:
· Start with the words “I am . . .”
· State it in the positive
· State it in the present tense
· Keep it short
· Make it Specific
· Include an “-ing” action verb
· Include a dynamic feeling word
· Make affirmations for your own behavior and experience, not other people’s
· This or something better still
You can see that stating your affirmations this way is more likely to help you “visualize” the outcome and simultaneously create the emotional state you anticipate having when you reach that goal. That emotional state, experienced now, is what you want for effective brain reprogramming. The brain is now in goal achieving mode and will begin to “see” and “think of” all the ways that will help you reach that goal.
We perceive what we decide to perceive. We “see” what we are programmed to see. We “think” what we are programmed to think. I have lots of exercises that demonstrate the truth of these claims. With good affirmations and visualizations we will perceive, see, and think the opportunities that are in line with achieving that goal, often to the exclusion of everything else. As a trivial example, if I plant an idea of looking for something in a video, you are likely to see that and miss other things in that same video.
So why do we end affirmations with “this or something better still”?
For just that reason, that we may not see something that is even better still. If I have programmed the brain to search out opportunities and ways to achieve X, I am going to see those opportunities to the exclusion of those that would help me to achieve goal Y. We want the brain to be programmed to see opportunities that we cannot even envision right now but would love even more.
What if there is something even better that could present itself as an opportunity. And what if that opportunity is even better for me than what I am envisioning. I want my brain programmed to see that as well.
I had a client who was practicing an affirmation focused on reaching a sales goal. After about a month she had not achieved the goal yet, but she was beginning to see an opportunity for something entirely different. She called me and asked, “Is this ‘this or something better still’?” This is certainly not a question I could answer for her, but we talked it out and she concluded it was, in fact, something better still than her original goal and that she might have missed it altogether if that had not been a part of her affirmation work. She started work on the new goal.
It is helpful to practice affirmations consistently 3 times per day for at least a month to start. This is consistent with conventional wisdom on the time and effort it takes to form a new habit. Then I think you can back off a bit, but still work with them every day, perhaps first thing in the morning to get your day going in the right direction.