3 Secrets You Must Know to Using Affirmations

3 Secrets to Using Affirmations - ManSpirational.com

As we know from the Power of Affirmations article, they are a powerful form of brain hacking, reprogramming your brain that has historically been wrought with negative statements with positive statements. That is, affirmations are really just positive statements that you recite in your mind over and over again in situations where you would normally find yourself thinking negative thoughts.

In other for affirmations to work, though, you must first of all believe in them. Secondly, the affirmation must produce a positive emotion in you, emotions being the easiest way to shortcut our learning process. So, think of this as a positive re-enforcement, just like your dog getting a treat in response to doing a trick correctly. Once again, for your affirmations to work they must have the following characteristics:

  • You must believe, even if only in the slightest.
  • You must have a positive, emotional response, even if only in the slightest.

Coming Up With Affirmations

It’s tempting to come up with a whole laundry list of affirmations when you first start. But, for the sake of accomplishing a goal in a manageable, measurable manner, let’s start off with only a small handful of affirmations. Over time, we can increase the number of affirmations. A very important reason for having a short list is that it simply is easier to remember than a long list. In this way, when you start thinking negative thoughts it would be much easier on yourself to quickly think of an affirmation and recite it in your mind, blocking out the negative thought was once prevalent.

  • I am confident.
  • My body is constantly healing.

Again, you must believe in your affirmations, even if only slightly. Furthermore, you must react positively to that affirmation. If you wonder where these came from, I chose these for several reasons. Firstly, ManSpirational is about creating a positive, inspired, and confident man. Second, stress causes up to 75% of disease, so having a positive frame-of-mind is important to our mental and physical health. Finally, these are my own affirmations that I recite whenever I start experiencing a train of negative thoughts.

Your Feelings Are Key

The “trick”, if you will, to hacking your brain and replacing your negative thoughts is through your feelings. After all, what happens when you dwell on a negative statement in your mind? You feel bad. The feelings of badness reinforces your beliefs. Now, think of a cherished childhood memory or a moment in your life where you felt wonderful, happy, accomplished, or fulfilled. What were the circumstances around that event? Did you study your behind off to get to where you were? Did you convince your parents over the days, weeks, and months for that something, finally getting what you wanted? In this case, you learned that hard work and persistence got you what you wanted. You learned that being nice is better than being mean, especially when trying to get your parents to do something. You also built up a sense of confidence and self-assurance in your skills as a communicator.

You see the point I am trying to make. Just as a negative thought has a feedback loop to reinforce your present and future behavior, the same applies to a positive thought. After all, affirmations are just positive statements and thoughts in disguise.


Putting It in Action

Now that you have your affirmations in hand, it’s time to put them to good practice. The goal is simple: We are going to replace your bad thoughts with good ones. Whenever you have a bad thought, immediately recite your affirmation in your head. I had mentioned it’s more helpful to only have a small handful to start. That way, when you start this exercise every time you have a bad thought you immediately follow up with affirmations from that list. Having too many affirmations will only confuse you on which one to use. You might even consider using only one affirmation for a day. So, for any negative thoughts that pop up, recite your one and only affirmation for the day. The next day, you may choose a different one–and use only that one–for any negative thoughts that arise.

You are bound to have a bunch of negative thoughts pop in as you go about your day. Even when you know you are not thinking anything negative, your feelings are key to how you really feel. For instance, you may be experiencing chronic back pain for the past year, of which the doctors are certain the cause is not medically-related. That leaves stress as the likely culprit. Even if at the moment your mind is blank, if you are focusing on your pain rather than good feelings and vibrations, you are still stressing yourself out. When this happens, make an even more concerted effort to recite your affirmations and really make yourself feel good about them as you say them.

But It Feels So Phoney!

I do admit that when you first start this exercise, you will feel disingenuous. It even feels strange and weird. That’s because you are experiencing cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort your brain feels when you encounter new evidence that challenges your long-standing beliefs on what reality should be, according to your own experiences. You will argue and fight to disprove this new evidence in front of you because it flies in the very face of what you have long believed. For example, what happens with the people who believe that end of the world is near, only to find it still standing and society still moving along after the day has come and past? You would think they would admit they were wrong and perhaps change their minds. After all, they looked completely foolish thinking they were right in the first place.

Instead, and not surprisingly, they will continue to insist they are still right. Whoever calculated when the world will end will say that he made a mathematical mistake and that the new day is…

His believers will double-down the hatches and become even more resolute in their beliefs. This is cognitive dissonance at play!

In a similar vein, it will be very uncomfortable for you when you first start reciting your affirmations whenever you experience negative thoughts. It will feel phoney. But you must keep the course. You must keep going until the discomfort becomes the norm. Keep reciting your affirmation whenever you have a negative thought. Feel positive as you recite it, for feeling good is the crucial ingredient needed to push out the negative thought.

One Quick Tip

If you truly find yourself feeling phoney with an affirmation that you only partially believe, then use an affirmation you do believe in. For instance, if you have pretty eyes or muscular biceps, affirm these things! This is also known as gratitude. So, be grateful about what you do have instead of what you are lacking or stressing over.

How Long Do I Have to Do This?

In general, it takes about 90 days to form a new habit. It certainly takes a while to replace your negative programming! Then again, you spent a whole life time forming bad habits in the form of negative thoughts. So, what’s 90 days out of your life? The gains you get are astronomical. When you first start, it’s going to be the most difficult thing in the world. After all, your entire life was filled with negativity. Suddenly trying to think positively will take you way outside your comfort zone. Humans are a curious being. We strive for homeostasis with our environment. That means that we will feel happy, angry, scared, nervous, or silly only a short time before we return to our baseline emotions.

Of course, depending on how deeply entrenched your beliefs are, it might take longer than this. From the time I first started playing with affirmations to finally “getting it”, understanding what they are really about and how they really work, took over a year. I’d try it for a while, eventually thinking it was a bunch of nonsense. How can one simply “will” himself to become something else? Or, I would just get busy with other things, leaving my experiment on the back burner, until weeks or months later, when I’d read an article about affirmations and be reminded of my experiment. I would also be reading other self-improvement articles during this time to try and find the missing link. For me, the missing link was needing to experience positive emotions as I recited my affirmation.

You will get discouraged. Sometimes, it really does seem that for every 5 steps you take forward, you take 3 back. But keep the course. After all, what defines a successful person is how he responds to and recovers from failure.

Somewhere along the way, you will find yourself starting to believe in your affirmations. One day, as you recite your affirmation in response to negative thought number 30,013 of the day you may even suddenly feel inspired to take action to make that affirmation come true. That is the true power of an affirmation rewiring your brain. Soon, you will start believing and soon you will take inspired action to make your thoughts a reality.

Eradicate the Viruses of the Mind

In a way, your negative faults are like having a virus in your mind. Whenever you encounter a scenario that elicits a response, either good or bad, what you know from past experiences play back. It serves as a survival mechanism. So, if you tend to be risk-adverse your mind will tell you all sorts of reasons why what you are about to try will result in bad things happening. If you have successfully programmed your mind, then your brain will instead tell you something else. For example, you may realize that the situation at hand is a wonderful opportunity to network, whereas your old self would have been scared because you had social anxiety.

The 3 Secrets

Alright, so they are not really secrets as much as they are steps. But if you are coming from a place of uncertainty, then they might as well be secrets to you.

The “3 secrets” have already been discussed throughout this article. They are the following:

  • You must believe in your affirmations, if only in the slightest.
  • You must experience a positive emotions, if only in the slightest.
  • You must recite this affirmation religiously–your mantra, if you will–every time you have a negative thought.

So, in closing when you write your affirmations make sure that you believe in them and that they cause you to react positively. Then, start reprogramming your mind by reciting your affirmations whenever you have a negative thought. It will be tough when you first start out as your mind attempts to return you to homeostasis, to the status quo, by causing cognitive dissonance and discomfort, hoping that you will simply give up.

But you are tough. You will keep the path. You will keep reciting your affirmations that you believe and hold dearly in your heart. One day, after many trials and tribulations, you will notice something wonderful about yourself. You will have become your thoughts.

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  1. As a woman, I think this information invaluable for us, too. Intentionally reprogramming our negative thinking is a wonderful idea. Just think of the changes it would make in a family’s relationship if this was practiced on a daily basis.
    Susan recently posted…How to Plan a Family StaycationMy Profile

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