We have all seen the Saturday Night Live skit where Al Franken puts on a sweater and becomes Stuart Smalley. The show opens with Franken’s character uttering these words: “I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am an attractive person. I am fun to be with.” This was the first exposure most people had to affirmations. Unless they had been part of some type of 12-step program or had listened to the deep baritone voice of Earl Nightingale explain, ‘This IS the strangest secret!’, most folks had no idea what affirmations were or the psychology behind them. I had no idea about the power of affirmations either until I started putting them in my morning routine. They are the second 10 minute part of my 60 minute morning.
Although “Stuart Smalley is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist”, there is powerful psychology behind doing affirmations. According to Psychology Today, “Generally speaking, affirmations are used to reprogram the subconscious mind, to encourage us to believe certain things about ourselves or about the world and our place within it. They are also used to help us create the reality we want—often in terms of making (or attracting) wealth, love, beauty, and happiness.” There have been MANY people tout the power of positive thinking. Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and Tony Robbins are just a few people who have sung the praises of affirmations.
What does it look like to use affirmations practically? Good question. I write mine down on index cards and use a binder clip to keep them together. I limit the number to only the amount I can get through in a 10 minute period. I have enough to cover about 30 minutes, but I cycle them in and out so I don’t get too bored with the process. Affirmations must be said OUT LOUD. Yes, you have to speak them. Audibly and with conviction. You have to believe what you are saying will come true. Without conviction, they are just words you are using to waste time. The belief they will work is what makes them work.
Do affirmations work? Well I happen to think so. In the above mentioned Psychology Today article, it goes on to explain “a recent study from Carnegie Mellon reveals that self-affirmations can protect against the damaging effects of stress on problem-solving performance and counteracts ego-depletion. Self-affirmations also enhance our task-related performances and make us more receptive to our mistakes. Additionally, self-affirmations have also been shown to aid regular users in rewriting self-fulfilling prophecies about social rejection.I won’t go in to specifics but I have increased my income, I have bettered my marriage, I am a better father, and I have my dream job. I would say affirmations have played a significant role in keeping my mind focused on those goals over the past 2 years. I have new affirmations now and they are very specific to my spiritual life because I want to sharpen that part of my life.
If you are looking for some books which talk about affirmations and how they can be used to focus your efforts, I recommend these:
If you do incorporate affirmations into your day, please let me know about it. I would love to cheer you on!