Affirmations and Your Subconscious
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â€œYou will be a failure, until you impress the subconscious with the conviction you are a success. This is done by making an affirmation.â€Â ~ Florence Scovel Shinn.
â€œWhatever you determine to be true in the subconscious becomes true for you.â€ ~ Richard Hatch.
An affirmation is a statement that is declared to be true. It may be of a positive nature or a negative nature. Affirmations are how we talk to ourselves. We tell ourselves things that we declare to be true.
Consider the following affirmations:
â€œI am smartâ€
â€œI am an idiotâ€
â€œI am uglyâ€
â€œI am fatâ€
â€œI canâ€™t do thisâ€
â€œI am well likedâ€
We declare these things to be true and tell it to ourselves as if it is true. In the articleÂ How to become an Optimist Part II: Disputing Pessimistic Beliefs, I discussed how to question these affirmations for actual truth by comparing it with the evidence. In this article I would like to discuss the importance of affirmations in achieving your dreams.
The role of the subconscious
Letâ€™s talk about the subconscious. What is the subconscious? What role does it play? I always like to think of the subconscious as a very efficient administrative assistant. You (or rather your conscious mind) are the boss. You determine what you want to achieve and the subconscious finds ways to get that done. It is constantly on the alert for possible opportunities to help you achieve your stated objectives.
Affirmations and the subconscious
What exactly are your stated objectives? How are they conveyed to your subconscious? Well, just like you would do with your administrative assistant, you tell your subconscious what your stated objectives are â€“ through your affirmations. So if you declare to be true the statement, â€œI am stupidâ€, then your subconscious will be on the look out for opportunities to reinforce that statement. If you declare to be true the statement that â€œI canâ€™t do anything rightâ€, the subconscious, being a very efficient assistant, will seek to make this a reality. So your affirmations play a very important role in determining your outcomes.
Affirmations are instructions to yourself.
Putting the subconscious to work for you
So obviously you can actively put the subconscious to work for you to help you achieve your goals and your dreams by being more aware and selective of your affirmations. This is the reason that the simple act of identifying your goals is so powerful. You identify where you want to be and this information is conveyed to the subconscious who will immediately set about trying to get you there.
Formulating positive affirmations
The important thing about affirmations is that they work best if they are specific and in the present tense. Affirmations and goals are closely tied together. You can refer to the article Achieving Your Goals Part I – Goal Identification to learn how to word your affirmations in the most successful manner.
Examples of affirmations at work
Suppose you want to stop eating fattening desserts. Your affirmation becomes â€œI only eat desserts that are healthy for meâ€. The next time you find yourself in the bakery getting bread, and you are faced with the plethora of sugar laden pastries, you hear a little voice in your head saying â€œI donâ€™t want those because I only eat healthy desserts.â€Â Your ever-alert subconscious has latched onto an opportunity to achieve your goal, and enforce your self-instructing affirmation.Â
Suppose your affirmation is â€œI am confident and friendlyâ€. At the next function, when your innate shyness starts to kick in, your subconscious repeats your affirmation to you. This is a statement you declared to be true, so it must be true and you start acting confident and friendly, approaching people and smilingly engaging them in conversation.
Letâ€™s take another example. Suppose you are a salesperson and your goal is to increase your sales by 25% this quarter. Your affirmation then becomes â€œI increase my sales by 25% this quarter.â€ Your subconscious will absolutely love this one, and constantly be on the lookout for sales prospects. The subconscious is a very creative problem solver. It will find a way. You will be sitting in traffic and see a billboard for a company and your subconscious will remind you that that company might be interested in your product, so take down their name and number and give them a call. You will be chatting casually while waiting in line to pay your bill and your subconscious will whisper to you to direct the conversation to see if this person might be interested in your product.
You see, those thoughts that appear to come out of nowhere, are actually coming from your subconscious working on your stated affirmations. Working on what you have already declared to be true. It is your subconscious working on your self instructions.
Focusing on your affirmations
The most important thing about affirmations is to keep them in mind. Just as with your administrative assistant, whatever you keep repeating to your subconscious is deemed important. The thing that is repeated the most frequently is deemed the most important. This is why it is important to keep your goals in mind, and keep repeating your affirmations daily. It reminds your subconscious that these affirmations and goals are important to you and therefore it will focus on them.
Why positive affirmations fail
Most of the time the affirmations that you unconsciously keep repeating to yourself are negative ones, such as â€œI am a failureâ€ and â€œI will never be able to do this.â€ It is critically important to your success that you remove those negative self-instructions immediately. The number reason that people who try to useÂ positive affirmations do not suceed is that they neglect to remove the negative affirmations.
The trick is to replace the negative affirmations with positive ones. The negative time you find yourself thinking â€œI will never be able to thisâ€, deliberately change the thought to â€œI will be able to do this. I will find a way.â€ It may seem unnatural or untrue at first but donâ€™t worry about that. It is an instruction to your subconscious to make you able.
In the beginning new positive affirmations that areÂ geared to overcome old negative affirmations are challenging and seem forced and even untrue. However, the more you keep repeating them, the more realistic they will become because your subconscious will work to make it so.
What affirmations do you currently have? What self-instructions are you giving your subconscious? How can you change these affirmations to help you achieve your goals and your dreams?
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- How to become an Optimist – Part I
- Achieving Your Goals Part I – Goal Identification
- How to be Happy – Training yourself to enjoy life
- The Power of Realistic Positive Thinking
- Your Capacity for Change
- Optimism vs. Pessimism
- The Different Explanatory Styles of Optimism and Pessimism
- Optimism & Resilience
- Coping with Stress – Part I
- How to Fight Depression Naturally
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