Nearly everyone has heard of positive affirmations and their power to transform your life. Equally, millions of people have tried them and decided that affirmations don’t work. We get it. It can be frustrating.
From our experience with helping thousands of people, affirmations DO work. Still, there are a few common pitfalls to watch out for. Here are the 6 common reasons your affirmations are not effective:
#1 Your affirmations go against your unconscious beliefs
The first one is that you still have strong underlying beliefs working against you. When people say “affirmations don’t work,” it’s almost always because of this. They haven’t done the work to understand and unravel those self-limiting beliefs.
As a result, they create an affirmation totally incongruent with what the subconscious believes to be true. For example, suppose your affirmation is “I am happy.” Still, you subconsciously believe that you are a bad person and don’t deserve happiness. In that case, the affirmations will work very slow or not at all.
You want to make sure that you’ve really challenged those beliefs and have done the work to bring them into your awareness.
#2 Your affirmations are too big
The second reason affirmations don’t work is that they are too big and make you uncomfortable and stressed out.
Money affirmations are a good example. If your affirmation is “I make a million dollars” and you only make $40 thousand a year, your brain is going to go into defense mode and simply not believe it. In fact, it will try to find evidence to disprove the affirmation. Tone them down if you don’t feel good when you say your affirmations.
#3 Your affirmations lack emotion
The third reason your affirmations don’t work is that they lack meaning and emotion. Two things are happening here. First, our brains have a negativity bias. It’s a survival mechanism.
Positivity is boring. If you don’t feel a strong positive emotion when you say your affirmations, your brain tunes it out.
You also want to have a deep emotional response to your affirmations. It triggers off a flood of feel-good chemicals in the body, and your subconscious notices this and gets to work making it true for you.
That’s why we recommend going really general with your affirmations so that you can tap into the true feelings and emotions you desire.
For example, you don’t want to make a million dollars; you want the feeling of happiness that money can bring. Go for strong emotions. Use words and phrases that affect you deeply and in a positive way.
#4 You aren’t in the receptive mode
The fourth reason is that you don’t practice your affirmations when your mind is receptive. Again, your brain finds positivity boring. The more active and awake you are, the more likely your brain will just tune out.
The best time to do affirmations is when your brain is in the relaxed theta state, between sleep and awake. Repeat your affirmations in the morning right when you get up or as you drift into sleep. Any time after meditation is a perfect time too.
#5 You don’t switch your affirmations up
The fifth reason your affirmations don’t work is that you use the same exact affirmations repeatedly. When they become familiar, your brain pays less attention.
Change your affirmations often. Even just the word order will do. We personally switch them up based on what’s going on in our lives. For example, if we’re feeling insecure about our bodies, we use affirmations that work on body positivity. If we’re fearful about money, we use affirmations about abundance and safety.
#6 Your affirmations are in the future tense
And the final pitfall is that your affirmations are in the future tense. For example, “I want to love myself.” The feeling of ‘want’ is actually negative because it reminds you that you don’t have it.
Your feelings tied to your affirmations matter. You want to feel good when you read your affirmations. You want them to empower you.
When working affirmations, use this checklist:
- Make sure the phrases are positive and make you feel good. No need to stress yourself out.
- Write them down ahead of time and have them ready either on a piece of paper or a post-it, and then tape it to your bathroom mirror or a place you see first thing in the morning or at night.
- Repeat them often, preferably when you’re feeling highly receptive. Our favorite time is first thing in the morning after meditation.
- Say your affirmations while you go for a walk or exercise. Studies have shown that when you are learning something new while also moving your body, your brain remembers the new skill. You are quickly creating those new positive brain pathways!
- Use present tense and avoid the words want/don’t want
- And one last thing, switch them up occasionally to keep them fresh and your brain engaged.
We LOVE affirmations. They are so effective. They are the cornerstone of positive change. We encourage you to make them a daily practice. Hopefully, you never again have to say, “my affirmations don’t work!”