Why affirmations can mess you right up (and what to say to yourself instead.)

“Affirmations are like screaming that you’re okay in order to overcome this whisper that you’re not. That’s a big contrast to actually uncovering the whisper, realizing that it’s a passing memory, and moving closer to all those fears and all those edgy feelings that maybe you’re not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay and all of us are fine. It’s not just one way. We are walking, talking paradoxes.”
— Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are

I came of age in the New Age of the ‘90s. I had affirmation cards before I had business cards. And I tried to love affirmations, really I did. But affirmations didn’t do me any favours. When my mouth was saying, “I am fearless and courageous!” My brain was saying, “I’m scared shitless.” So then not only did I still feel scared, I also felt like a fake.

If you say that all is well, when all is not well; or that you’re skinny when you’re feeling fat; or that you’re healthy when you’re sick—well, to state the obvious, you’re lying to yourself.

Self-deception creates a cognitive dissonance so that, despite the positive-sounding phrasing, you’re creating inner tension and conflict.

Contrived affirmations take you out of the present. Rather than facing what’s real, we try to plaster over the difficult truths with happy thoughts. This is false optimism and it’s damaging. It undermines our capacity to be with what is, and to access our real strength and spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity includes the capacity to acknowledge our fears while maintaining our confidence and faith.

Affirmations have become a tool for fear management, rather than the more productive process of fear analysis, or as Pema Chödrön puts it, “uncovering the whisper . . . moving closer to all those fears . . .” Fear is natural and it deserves respect and compassion—don’t insult your fear by smothering it with saccharine affirmations. Be scared. And . . . be brave.

Scientific research proves that positive thinking and affirmative words work. No argument there. Do we need pep talks? Hell yes! Are you the very best person to coach yourself through despair? Hell yes! Do we want to end our suffering and return to limitless bliss, and infinite awareness? Yes, yes we do! Do we need to talk ourselves through it? Abso-speakin’-lutely!

So, then, speak the truth. Affirm your desire. Declare your intentions. Recall your successes. Your psyche will believe you. Your body will feel you. Your Soul will thank you for the straight-up communication.

Here’s how:

You’ve got an important meeting. You’re scared. You really want this to go well. Look in the mirror and tell the truth: I’m scared. I really want this to go well. I most desire to feel energized, creative, leadership, and love. So far, your unconscious trusts you. You’re in integrity with yourself. This is actually helpful.

Now if you really want to get your energy up, state some beliefs: I believe in the goodness of humanity. I believe that I’ve got what it takes. I’ve got the best intentions and I’m full of creative ideas.

Keep it up. State some facts, some evidence of your greatness—recall your successes. I nailed this the last time. I won the debate competition. I gave the best wedding toast ever heard. The team raved about my last round of ideas.

There’s more where that came from. You can give voice to what you’re doing that’s working in your life right now. I see that I am already living this in my relationship with my best friend. I am courageous with my husband. I’ve been having my most creative ideas ever this week.

If you want to keep stoking your fire, pour on the desire: I want this job. I really want to feel at ease. I desire for this pain to lift. I desire to be swept away by compassion. I intend to finish first in my league.

And then really go for it and state your intention: I am going to give this my all.

All truth. No filler. You didn’t bullshit yourself once, nor did you adopt someone else’s projection of your perfect reality.

 

 

related posts
Danielle-LaPorte-Failures-traced-to-my-silence

All of my failures can be traced to my silence.

Truthing isn’t necessarily easier to do, but it brings incredible ease to your life. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The courage, the classy delivery, the compassionate humour, it all becomes more accessible when you’re using your voice everyday.

Will you do as much as it takes, as long as it takes? 2017 is asking

Will you do as much as it takes, as long as it takes? 2017 is asking.

Listen. It’s time. This is it. 2017. New. Year. Now. I for one am going deeper and higher. I’m reaching inward for my strength, facing my Soul, and I’m going to pour my devotion to the Light all over every word I speak, and every human I encounter and adore and hold, and every cause I’m working for.

danielle-laporte-how-to-wish-someone-well-audio

How to wish someone well — in a way that will blow your life wide open.

We’ve all been hurt. Screwed over. Taken for granted. Unseen. And once we untangle our hearts and egos from those painful interactions, sometimes we can still manage to send someone positive vibes.Harm done, but okay. Everyone did their best. Onward. I wish them well. And even though you’d never commune or collaborate with that person ever again, you really mean it…

Danielle-LaPorte-Year-in-review

5 Q’s for your deeper Year In Review

Do your year in review with a friend. Last year I sat in a pub in Ojai, while Steph pushed me to do a rapid-fire reflection on the closing year. Keep reading…

holding-out-danielle-laporte

Holding out. The most underrated spiritual act there is.

Good things come to those who… hold out. Holding out requires a sacred, almost superhuman degree of focus—mystical muther freaking prowess.

Danielle-LaPorte-the-royal-practice-of-overcoming-distraction

The “royal practice” of overcoming distraction.

Most of us approach distraction as a time management issue—how we wrangle our to-do list and hit our goals. But when you zoom out and look at it esoterically, it snaps your priorities into place. Keep Reading…

danielle-laporte-this-is-what-healing-looks-like-audio

This is what healing looks like—from cancer to politics, and our bleeding, blazing hearts.

Healing is as ugly as “healed” is gorgeous. If we don’t judge the mess of it, we’re more likely to get to the other side of it sooner—and more deeply healed and stronger than we ever imagined possible. Scars and all. Healed.

Danielle-Laporte-Guru-Singh

Cataclysmic Evolutionary Catalysts. (AKA: The times we live in). A guest appearance from Guru Singh.

For the first time ever on my site, I’m bringing you a guest feature. Because these times call for collaboration. And radical wisdom. So here it is: Guru Singh is a luminous and direct Truth teller. It’s an immense honour to share his insights—and prayerful plea. Please listen in.

danielle-laporte-conscious-gifts-2017-1

8 holiday gift ideas for friends & co-workers. Conscious, cool, and not-destined for landfills. And 6 ways to help #NoDAPL this season.

Here are a few pro-earth, pro-good taste, pro-kindness ideas for showing your love and appreciation this season: 8 conscious ways and things to give this season—to friends and your professional circle.

danielle-laporte-how-you-listen-is-how-you-live-featured-2x

How you listen is how you live. (A poem for being of service.)

You may hear this as an order, an invitation, or as the opportunity of lifetimes.

How you listen is how you live.
Can you hear the women crying?
Can you hear the soil gasping for clean air?
And did you hear that? That’s the sound of a good man asking, How can I serve?

How do you serve?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This