29 Jun Affirmations. The power of simple truths.
If the post seems too long and you only have 20 seconds:
Super summary of the post. (Spoilers ahead).
- I was skeptic about affirmations, repeating to yourself the same sentences on a daily basis, but open enough to try them out.
- Affirmations are like prayers. They work when you feel them.
- Affirmations work because you automatize thoughts and feelings in your mind and body. They reinforce neurological paths.
- I am polyreligious, and I have developed my own prayer/affirmations.
- I tried with future goals written on the present and “I” statements but sound fake. (I have a million subscribers on my YouTube channel.)
- Nowadays, I focus on fundamental truths like “I am alive. Being alive is miraculous” and is having a clear effect on my daily mood and enjoyment of life.
- There is a list with my affirmations at the end of the post.
Attitudes towards affirmations. Skepticism and curiosity.
If you are like me, you are a person with strong critical thinking and a considerable dose of skepticism. Both of these mindsets are healthy and helpful in a world surrounded by an overload of low-quality information like fake news and low-reliability articles.
Feel free to question and doubt about this content. But, if you want to criticize me, please be open enough to try it out. Spirituality is about your own subjective and personal experience. Don’t believe what I say, believe what you experience. Believe what you live.]
Another characteristic of my personality is a huge openness to experience. I am a hyper-curious. I can get easily distracted and entertained with pretty much everything. Learning new things and reducing my infinite ignorance is my default mode.
Thanks to this attitude, a few months ago, I discovered a daily practice that is linked to self-growth and success by many YouTube and self-improvement gurus. (Yes, those that I have as role models).
[Side note 2:
Before stop reading, I am aware that affirmations (repeating to yourself the same sentences day after day) can sound like a waste of time. It can sound ridiculous, and weird to speak to yourself, even more, if you do it out loud while walking on the street. However, if you haven’t tried them, keep on reading and give them a chance.]
Intellectual context. Prayers and affirmations as transcendental practices.
As a psychologist, specialized in positive psychology and working in a lab of psychology of religion, spiritual practices linked to the betterment of our existence are my personal obsession. Meditation is an all-known, all-accessible practice. If you haven’t tried it yet, I am not doing my job properly.
Meditation has been compared with praying. But, personally, affirmations seem more like praying to me. A standardized prayer is a series of sentences that are to be repeated daily in order to connect and communicate with the divinity. Depending on the religious tradition, believers are allowed to be more or less original while praying, adding their personal flavor to them. In addition, there is usually a moment for expressing gratitude and request graces to the deities with the hope of receiving favorable answers.
How do prayers and affirmation work?
The key aspect is that prayers are repetitive feelings. Repetitions that are felt. Prayers are pathways to access altered states of consciousness. The more you use them, the more automatic you alter your consciousness, and the easier and faster it becomes to get the benefit from the praying.
Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, uses often the term, transcendental practices to refer to different types of meditation and mind exercises that set up your consciousness into a specific state. Thinking about someone that you love, and then expanding that love into other people and situations is a transcendental practice that set up your mind and consciousness in a more “lovely” state. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes, and your mind and body get used to these thoughts and feelings, making them easier to experience. From a neurological perspective, the neural paths involved in these ideas and emotions are reinforced each time they are activated.
The repetition of the content linked to the generated feeling is a sort of conscious hypnosis that can switch your beliefs about who you are, what you are doing with your life, and what is the impact that you are making in this planet. Your brain automatizes the things you constantly repeat. (If you suffer from anxiety or self-destructive rumination, you know what I am talking about. As a positive psychologist, my focus is on the other end of the spectrum).
Polyreligiosity: Developing your own affirmations
After my first spiritual experience, I switched my atheist tradition to a more humble “spiritual but not religious” attitude. Quite often, I also like to define myself as “polyreligious”.
Polyreligious people take ideas, practices, beliefs, and philosophies from different traditions and, through trial and error, chose the ones that work best for them. They are always open to change and in search of discovering new ones that can activate new functioning of their minds and be the door to new states of consciousness. Polyreligiosity is applying the scientific methodology to the realm of subjective spirituality.
I observe the world (directly, or through others experience, e.g. reading); I make a hypothesis (intuitive feeling that this practice will work for me); I test it and I measure the results (subjectively). Finally, I draw conclusions about whether this is suitable for me or not.
This is how I ended up developing one of the most efficient and powerful habits in my daily routine. Nowadays, in less than 5 minutes I can boost my aliveness, gratitude, love, motivation, and sense of purpose.
First attempt. Blind following equals failure.
When I first encountered affirmations, it was said that I had to say my goals as if they were already true. I had to write them on a paper, written in the first person. I had to write goals in different aspects of my life (relationships, career, habits, short term, and long term goals). Something like:
I publish 4 books per year.
I have a million subscribers on my YouTube channel.
I work out every day.
I have my own temple to explore consciousness and spirituality.
Thanks to what I write, I change the lives of thousands of people.
Then, speak them out loud at least twice a day. The louder and more confident, the better. The bolder the goals, the better as well. “If you reach to the sun, at least, you will get the moon.”
Well, I spend a month or so, uttering things like “I never procrastinate”, while walking the dog on the tram lines. It felt weird. I knew it was untrue. I knew that people usually don’t talk out loud while walking their dogs. Even further, I was stumbling around trying to keep an eye on the dog, holding the paper with my written affirmation, and not crashing against any tree.
After several weeks, I stop doing it.
But internet algorithms are very persistent, and I kept on receiving messages from other online gurus, mentors, and teachers that claimed that affirmations had worked wonders for them. So, I decided to give it another chance. But this time I would pay more attention to what I was saying.
Personalize your spiritual practices.
Human beings learn by repetition. Our mind sticks to the stories that are repeated more often. It believes whatever you tell it if you tell it enough times. However, repeating that I have 1 million subscribers in YouTube and seeing that the number is stuck below the 200 is a hard confrontation with reality. Numbers don’t lie.
Therefore, I realized that I had to state simple and deep truths. I needed to find the balance. I needed to add authenticity and truthfulness to the sentences I was going to repeat. I didn’t want to sound fake to myself. I didn’t want to be untruthful to my being. The affirmations would simply remind me who I was, and what I wanted to do with my life. I started with two very basic, simple, and fundamental truths:
I am alive. I am breathing.
For the affirmations to work, you need to believe them. Beliefs are rotted and fueled by emotions, so I add:
I love life. I love breathing.
You can add gratitude, love, motivation, forgiveness, whatever you feel you need in your life. You can remind yourself your goals, the habits you want to solidify, whatever you want to stick in your mind. In my personal case, trying to cure myself of overuse of my phone, and fighting back the impulse of checking social media first thing in the morning, I continued:
I don’t watch my phone. Smartphones make me feel lonely.
And looking for good habits and its correspondent emotions:
I drink water. I fast. I love water. I love fasting.
I stretch. I love stretching. I move. I love moving.
Since I was discovering Marisa Peer, I included some of their mottos:
I am enough and I deserve more. I am lovable.
Following, I moved to the long-term attitudes that I always want to change (procrastination, arrogance, rumination and overthinking):
Procrastination is fear.
I don’t know anything.
I don’t think, I just do.
Following, some inspiration to keep me optimistic about the future:
There is hope in humankind.
The world is going to be a wonderful place.
Finally, some more practical about what I want to do, my main activity:
I write. I work. I love writing. I love working.
And the communal narcissistic affirmation that I add a week later:
I am unstoppable and I am gonna save this planet.
My goal is that I wake up in the morning and that the first thought that arrives to my mind is:
I am alive
It happens sometimes, and when it does it feels so true, so deeply real, so genuine. No matter what you think or believe, it is undeniable that both you and I are alive right now and we are also alive when we wake up in the morning.
Why shouldn’t we remind us of that fundamental truth?
Once I remember it, I keep on breathing, drinking water, and moving my body.
Affirmations are a very spiritual practice. Using daily affirmations, you can get in contact with the person that you truly are, or the person that you want to become Simply remind to yourself a couple of times a day that you are alive and breathing, that you love your family and friends, that you have an immense potential for changing this world for the better, and how valuable and worthy you are for being alive. Remind yourself the habits you want to work on and remind yourself those truths that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Feel free to experiment and correct them with time. Check those that resonate the most with you and those that don’t. Test them all. So far, for me, they work. I feel better, more fulfilled, more alive. I am enjoying my life more intensely since I do it.
It took a bit of testing to find them out, but it is really worthwhile. I hope you give it a chance and remember to be patient with your progress.
BONUS: My current affirmations (What and when?)
Nowadays, I am reading these affirmations on my commuting before taking the train to the university where I work, and when I on the train when I am heading back home. I made a Google Keep Note and I read them from there. Google Keep allows to make modifications, is more environmentally friendly, and I can have them with me all the time.
[Warning: It took me some time not to open social media once I have the phone on my hand.
Advice: Starting with paper is safer.]
I take my time (5 minutes approx.), so I can read them slowly, one by one, focusing and delving on the feelings and sensations.
I’m alive, I love life.
I’m breathing. Breathing reminds me that being alive is a miracle.
I drink water. Water gives me life.
I fast. Fasting gives me strength and courage.
I move and stretch. Movement and stretching segregate serotonin in my brain.
I work out. Workout keeps my body fit and functional.
I meditate. Meditation brings sustainable wellbeing.
I don’t masturbate. Masturbation drains my energy, life force, and motivation.
I am enough and I deserve more.
I’m lovable, and I love human beings.
I don’t check social media.
Checking social media destroys my attention, makes me feel lonely, and ruins my life and potential.
I write every day. Writing is my way of helping others and saving the planet.
I don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is fear.
I don’t over think. I just do.
There is hope in humankind, and this planet is going to be a wonderful place.
I am unstoppable. I am a communal narcissist.
I’m saving the planet, and I’m doing it today.