Affirmations: BS or Valuable Personal Development Technique?

If you’ve read my past posts, you know I think that the “Law of Attraction” – by itself – is pretty much bogus.  I mean, really – you can sit around on the couch all day, wishing and hoping for a fit body, a million dollars and a supermodel girlfriend.  But until you actually take action to bring about these dreams, you’re not going to get an inch closer to achieving your goals.

Unfortunately, the universe isn’t just sitting around, waiting to fulfill your every desire.  Instead, you’ve got to bring about the changes you want through a combination of concerted effort and mental re-programming.

Focusing on both of these elements is key.  Say you’ve made it your goal to earn a million dollars.  Obviously, you’ll need to take a specific set of actions to bring about this reality, whether that’s starting your own company, gunning for a big promotion or simply winning the lottery.  But at the same time, you’ve got to get your mental processes on track.  If your subconscious is constantly telling you that you’re destined to be a failure, you’re going to find it pretty darn hard to stick to your defined action plan!

One tool in our NLP toolboxes for promoting these mental process improvements is the affirmation.  Basically, an affirmation is a statement you repeat to yourself that embodies the traits or characteristics you want to bring about.  Following our example above, if you’re attempting to build a multi-million dollar company, an example of a helpful affirmation might be, “I will be successful because people want to buy from me.”

In order to be effective, successful affirmations must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Repeatability – For best results, your affirmation should be repeated several times a day, including at both the beginning and ends of the day, as well as when you feel your self-confidence waning.  For this reason, good affirmations are those you can remember easily and repeat frequently, without requiring the need for prompts.
  • Clarity – Good affirmations should be specific.  If you plan to use affirmations to power your weight loss goals, be sure your affirmation clearly states how you envision achieving these results.  After all, if you simply state, “I will lose weight,” this end result could be brought about by a healthy diet and exercise plan or a bout with a serious disease – your choice!
  • Appropriateness – The best affirmations are those that relate to specific aspects of your behavior, as these items fall within your control.  Using your affirmation to ask for a supermodel girlfriend isn’t nearly as appropriate as employing this technique to change your own self-conscious or shy behaviors.
  • Tone of voice – As you repeat your affirmation to yourself, pay special attention to the tone of voice you use while doing so.  Is your internal monologue full of conviction?  Or does your inner voice sound as self-conscious and dispirited as you feel?  By altering your inflection to deliver your affirmation in a confident, self-assured way, you’ll see much better results using this technique.

Finally, be aware that affirmations – on their own – are a relatively weak NLP technique.  Although the repetition of motivational phrases can be used successfully to promote positive mental changes, some NLP practitioners have likened the practice to using a table knife to cut down a tree.  Just as a chainsaw would be a much better solution for this particular need, there are plenty of other NLP techniques that can bring about the same results much more effectively.

Two examples of these tactics include embedded commands and NLP presuppositions – both of which provide the necessary framework for both defining ideal behaviors and mental processes and providing the impetus needed to change.

For this reason, if you do decide that using affirmations will be a helpful motivational tool for you, be sure to integrate embedded commands and NLP presuppositions into the specific statements you decide to focus on.

For example, let’s say your goal is still to build a multi-million dollar company and you’ve decided to use affirmations to help you get over your crippling procrastination.  Combining the aspects of successful affirmations described above with both embedded commands and NLP presuppositions, you could come up with the following affirmation:

“I have all the tools I need to become the focused, productive owner of a multi-million dollar company.”

Not only will this affirmation be helpful because it’s based on personal behavior and clearly defines the desired process and end result, it also incorporates the NLP presupposition that we have all the tools necessary to bring about our own success and the embedded command “become the focused, productive owner of a multi-million dollar company.”

Following these criteria, try coming up with your own affirmation message.  Then, repeat your chosen statement to yourself at least three times a day for a week and see if you can identify an improvement in your performance!

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2 thoughts on “Affirmations: BS or Valuable Personal Development Technique?

  1. Ram Bansal

    Law of Attraction is bogus for its statement on attraction of the similar, while the basic fact of Nature is that only complementaries get attracted to each other. If you need to attract someone, you have to be a complementary to the other.

  2. Dave

    I believe in affirmations because I think they can change the way we view the world. What you see is what you get as they say.


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