My Affirmations Aren’t Working! What’s up with that?
Affirmations became popular with the birth of the human potential movement. One of the perceptions of the human potential movement has been that limitations on happiness and achievement come from negative beliefs about ourselves. As a result, the human potential movement put a lot of attention on how we think about ourselves and what we believe about ourselves and why; one of the practices it developed to improve self worth was the use of affirmations. The general idea is that if you repeat affirmations often enough you will believe them.
The label “bad” has been used for a long time – centuries – to describe behavior that did not conform to group standards. Those standards are being questioned as we evolve beyond traditional societal structures. However, the labels of good and bad are not easy to get rid of. Even if we eliminate the words from our vocabulary, our educational and other institutions rewards the “right” answer, picking winners and losers, which is a way of defining good and bad.
The labels of good and bad are also believed to shape an individuals self identity often with disastrous results. This recognition has led to increased efforts to change cultural conditioning because the labels good and bad are essentially simplistic and do not honor the magnificent complexity and potential of human beings.
A side effect of the effort to challenge the definitions of “bad” is a desire to transcend the difficult past of the human race. So the “bad” label has been put under the microscope over the past fifty years as we have evolved to develop a more contextual or situation based way of thinking about behavior to improve how we relate to others as well as ourselves.
Affirmations probably developed as a result of exposure to Eastern medication practices and the use of mantras. Mantras have been used for thousands of years to help focus the mind and to shift our attention from an undesirable fixation to a better one. It is a way of facilitating the act of “letting go: and developing more acceptance of ourselves, each other and the challenges of life. They have helped a lot of people.
There is a catch with affirmations. They are not a quick fix and cannot help everyone equally. I think it has become apparent that affirmations do not solve all problems. Even with the great effort that has been made in using them, they somehow miss the boat with some people. I think the clue to explain it comes from energy healing practices and meditation.
My TM instructor told me that meditation works on the nervous system to release blocked energy. Blocked energy can have a number of causes: unresolved grief, poor health habits, and all types of abuse – physical, emotional, mental, sexual etc. In other words, energy can become trapped in the body until it is released. Blocked energy does not release easily. There is usually a learning associated with it. At a minimum the energy needs to be processed, and often it cannot be processed until we reach a new understanding.
Meditation and energy practices like Reiki and EFT are ways to release blocked energy from a painful past. They bring loving energy into the body to create the conditions for the releasing of old pain. Highly sensitive people are known to have more abuse in their backgrounds than other people, so affirmations pay provide some benefit, but long term energy healing practices will probably offer the best hope.