I just want to start off by warning you that today, I’m going to say something pretty controversial. And here it is… doing affirmations may not be good for you.
Really. They may be making things worse.
Now, first let me throw out a disclaimer here. If you do affirmations regularly and you’ve gotten great results, then obviously they work for you. You can basically ignore what I’m about to say. But if you’ve used them and never really seen any results, then read on.
You see, you have two basic parts to your mind, your conscious, and your subconscious.
Which mind do you think has more effect over your day-to-day actions?
If you answered “subconscious,” you’re correct. It’s pretty much universally agreed that the subconscious mind is the main driver of human behavior. While we may think that we rationalize and make our decisions from our logical, conscious mind, what typically happens is we first make a decision from our subconscious mind, and then find conscious reasons to support it.
In any case, the subconscious is the real driver.
Unfortunately, while affirmations positively engage your conscious mind, they often negatively engage your subconscious mind, the part of your mind that is more in control of your behavior. It works like this.
You have an area of you life you want to improve, like you’re sick and you want to feel healthy.
So you form a positive affirmation about it. “I am healthy.”
Now, if you have a chronic disease or a bad pain problem — the very reasons why you want to be healthier – it may be really hard for you to believe this affirmation. If you listen inwardly, you may discover that your subconscious mind is actually talking back and arguing with this positive, conscious affirmation. It may say things like, “No you’re not.” “You’re in pain.” “Who are you kidding?”
I’ll bet it does. I’ve been asking my life coach clients to listen to this inner, reactive voice and tell me what it says, and they keep reporting these same simple negation phrases over and over.
This can be a big problem, because as I already said, your subconscious mind is the one that controls more of your day-to-day choices and actions.
So obviously we need a tool that positively engages the subconscious mind.
That tool is empowering questions. You’re subconscious mind is like a curious child. It loves questions. It engages with questions. It acts on questions.
So the first thing you can do to make an affirmation more empowering to your subconscious mind is turn it into a question like this:
Why am I healthy?
You can probably already feel how that has more engagement and power than a the original affirmation. Noah St. John calls this kind of statement an “afformation.”
I definitely prefer an afformation to an affirmation, but I don’t think it’s enough. The majority of my clients say their subconscious mind still argues with this, even though it’s in question form.
Why does this happen? One big reason is because the statement is using the unchanging “I am” and as physical beings, we are always expanding, progressing, becoming. There is no “am” because even as we say it we are in transition. We are moving energy, constantly changing. And when we want to positively transform some aspect of our life it helps to remind ourselves of this. Of course, we can change, we ARE change itself. Just as a tree is constantly growing, so are we.
So, the next step to creating an Empowering Question is to form the question in a progressive way like this, “Why am getting healthier?”
Now, if even that is hard for your subconscious mind to accept, then you can add a softener like “gradually” and you get, “Why am I gradually getting healthier?”
You’re creating ways for your subconscious mind to believe that you’re moving in a positive direction in whatever area you wish. And you’re allowing it to do it in daily baby steps – which is the organic way in which things actually progress.
Gardens don’t grown overnight. They grow gradually over time. And so do we. And it’s this growth, this progress – not some ideal end state – that makes us feel empowered, happy and alive.
So, just to summarize, here are the steps again for changing an affirmation into an Empowering Question:
1. Choose the affirmation : I am wealthy.
2. Make it a why question: Why am I wealthy?
3. Make it progressive: Why am I getting wealthier all the time?
4. If needed for you to feel it in your bones, slow it down with “gradually.” Why am I gradually getting wealthier?” (drop the “gradual” when it no longer feels needed).
5. If you’re repeating Empowering Questions, pause after each one so your subconscious mind will have space to consider and create it’s own, positive answers.
This stuff doesn’t work if you just think about it, so test it out. Pick one or two Empowering Questions to do this week and repeat them several times through out your day. Then check in at the end of the week to see how that area of your life has positively shifted. Enjoy!
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