01 Dec Making Affirmations More Effective in Achieving Change
Making Affirmations More Effective in Achieving Change
Affirmations or positive self-talk can play a key role in helping people achieve the change they want to make in their lives.
Let’s not kid ourselves, talk alone doesn’t achieve anything. To bring about change, at some point, you have to physically do something or experience something. Affirmations help in the change process because they convince us (a) that we are capable of making the change and (b) that the change is already happening. Affirmations in effect ‘grease the wheels of change’.
Affirmations are most effective when they are:
- Written in the first person in the present tense – e.g. ‘I am…’
- Positive e.g. ‘I am a healthy eater’
- Said with force and conviction (in order to overpower inner doubts)
So how do they work?
It is generally accepted that human beings are suggestible – particularly when the suggestions are credible and beneficial. However we are more likely to reject suggestions if we don’t believe they’re true or possible.
How do we get round this?
If you can imagine that there is a door to the part of our subconscious mind that implements change, then it makes sense to say that the first task in achieving change is to open the door and the second task is to install the new belief that enables the change to be made.
Let’s take the example of someone who wants to stop smoking.
If we ask that person to simply say:
‘I am a non-smoker’
There is a fair chance that subconsciously, they will reject the affirmation because (at the moment) it’s not true.
However if we instead ‘prepare’ the subconscious for the ‘non-smoker’ affirmation we are far more likely to succeed. A good strategy would be to use the following 3 statements in the order below:
- ‘My health and wellbeing are important to me’
- ‘I have no desire to smoke’
- ‘I am happy to be a non-smoker’
This time the ‘non-smoker’ affirmation is likely to be accepted and implemented because:
- Statement 1 is highly likely to be true – it therefore ‘opens the door’ to change
- Statement 2 logically follows on from statement 1
- Statement 3 is now credible and beneficial
We naturally feel more comfortable and enthusiastic with this type of gradual approach and will therefore invest energy and commitment when repeating them.
Other examples of ‘door openers’ include:
- I am a highly experienced runner/golfer/tennis player etc.
- I respect my body
- I am a very determined person
The trick is to start with something that’s positive, true and relevant to the overall goal and build on that.