Which of the following feels true for you?
They're both affirmations. The second one is positive and constructive. The first one is negative and destructive. And they're only true if you believe it.
I was first introduced to the concept of affirmations in the early 1990s. Until then, I hadn't realized just how many negative thoughts I had, or how my reality manifested as a result of those thoughts. For example: "I'm not worthy of a healthy love relationship." "No one wants me." "I'm not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, thin enough," etc. These negative affirmations all manifested in the form of toxic relationships, floating from job to job and school to school, and low self-esteem, even after losing thirty pounds.
When I learned that these thoughts could be changed, and I began to change them by way of positive affirmation, then my reality changed as well. "I am not good enough," changed to "I love and approve of myself." "I never get what I want" changed to "I am open and receptive to all good things." "No one wants me" changed to "I am worthy of and desired by the perfect job, school, relationships," etc.
Discovering the power of these positive affirmations was like finding a master key that unlocked any and every door to love, prosperity, success, etc. My life went from murky to magnificent. Within two years of first practicing positive affirmations, I had dissolved that toxic relationship, moved away and went back to school (this time graduating with honors), and welcomed all kinds of new and exciting experiences. I healed past hurts. I grew increasingly confident.
Affirmations need to be constant, however. Much like life, they're a work-in-progress, and sometimes they take time to sink in. Someone who has believed "I am not good enough" for most of her life may have to say "I approve of myself" many, many times until she begins to believe it.
Here's another example. It took me a long time to get my finances in order. In the late 1990s, I had a psychic reading shortly after a heartbreaking end of a love relationship. I had come hoping the woman would tell me what I wanted to hear: that my ex-boyfriend would realize he had made a big mistake and ask me for a second chance. Instead, she blurted this, seemingly out of nowhere: You never have to worry about money.
Wait, what? Are you crazy? I just spent my last 20 dollars on a box of spaghetti, a jar of sauce, a loaf of bread, a jar apiece of peanut butter and jelly, and a half-gallon of milk, and it was going to have to last me two weeks. And what about my ex-boyfriend?
She never told me why I didn't have to worry. Didn't predict or foresee any kind of windfall, and I didn't ask. I simply dismissed it.
I had never forgotten the woman's words, but seven years later I was still struggling financially. At one point I was four months behind on my rent (I had very loving and patient landlords). Finally, I had decided to not only listen to what the woman had told me, but also believe it: "I never have to worry about money." Within a year, I got my first full-time teaching position with benefits. I even got retro-pay and used it to pay all the back-rent I owed. (My landlord gave me a big hug!) The year after that, I moved to North Carolina and into a beautiful apartment with comforts I'd never had before: a fully applianced kitchen and pantry; a washer-and-dryer hookup; central air conditioning, etc. For once, I paid all my bills on time each month, and even began eliminating debt. I published my first novel, and that brought in even more money.
In 2012, I made the leap to full-time novelist and moved back to the northeast coast (and a higher cost of living). Within months, I feared that I had made a big mistake, and that I would need to move in with my mother until I found another full-time job.
Wait a minute, I thought. I never have to worry about money, remember? It's all working out for the best. I repeated this constantly.
And sure enough, one of my books went to number one on the Kindle Store bestseller list in Germany, and it stayed there for six weeks straight. That month I made more money than I had in my previous full-time teaching annual salary!
Even these last two years, which have been pretty lean financially speaking, my affirmation has been "Money always comes to my husband and me when we need it." And it does. Every time.
Positive affirmations are beautiful things, but you need to pay attention to and practice them constantly. Repeat them like mantras. Write them and recite them, over and over again. Say them in the shower, on the treadmill, or during your commute, silently or aloud. Heck, I even affirm that I always get a good parking space, and I do!
The key to an effective affirmation is putting it in the present and positive tense. If you say "someday I'm going to fall in love," then you'll always be waiting for it. However, if you say, "I am attracting a wonderful love relationship," then circumstances will mirror that thought. Also, there's a big difference between "I am not getting sick" and "I enjoy good health" or "I heal quickly."
What you put into the world always comes back to you.
Finally, surrender the outcome of the affirmation. In other words, it's not about expecting the outcome you want, but rather trusting that the outcome will be for the highest good of all. For example, two years ago my husband and I put our house in Montana up for sale. I affirmed that the perfect buyer was on its way, but no one showed up. After several months, we decided to rent the house. We found a fantastic property manager, and she found a lovely family who has taken excellent care of the place. Little did we know that we'd be returning to Montana and that house! Things worked out in a way we couldn't have foreseen then, and it was a win-win.
Here's an invitation for you:
Think about something you'd like to change or attract in your life. For example, perhaps you want a raise, or a new job. Craft affirmations that support it, such as "my salary is constantly increasing," or "I am well compensated for my talents and abilities." Repeat them as much as you can.
If that's too big a leap, then start smaller. You can even make it something fun, like "I now welcome an ice cream sundae into my life," and see what happens! Remember, you have to repeat the affirmation; it's not a "one-and-done."
Or try this one, which always brings positive results in sometimes miraculous ways. Affirm "I approve of myself," like a broken record (I am revealing my age with that metaphor!), and pay attention to what thoughts come up, as well as what happens in the days and weeks of your saying it. Even if your initial thoughts are negative, like "that's not true," keep saying it. As Wayne Dyer says, you'll see it when you believe it! It will eventually become true for you.
Have you worked with positive affirmations before? Please comment and share in what ways they've worked for you. Need help converting a negative affirmation to a positive one? Let me know and I can help! Or try the above exercises and report your progress.
To do a deep dive into the power of affirmations, read the book that changed my life over 25 years ago.