It is well known that the use of positive affirmations can be very helpful in detecting the changes in your life you wish. Great motivators such as Louise Hay, Sally Fisher and Wayne Dyer, have encouraged this practice. Affirmations such as, “every day, in every way, I am getting better and better!” are used by millions of people worldwide.
If the simple process of repeating a positive statement is so powerful, why do we not all get fast and powerful change from simply making these positive statements?
Part of the answer to this question lies in understanding how our brain functions on both the conscious and subconscious level. Our conscious mind is the part of our mind that we all feel most familiar with. The conscious mind does most of what we would consider our rational thinking, processes choices, helps us make decisions, and is the place from which we exercise our willpower.
The subconscious mind is one big whopping mystery of a databank! Your subconscious mind has been recording since your birth, and some would argue even while you were in the womb. Virtually everything you have ever heard or experienced is recorded in your subconscious. It is much as conscious thinking does not really begin to formulate until you’re about five years of age, much of the information which you gathered prior to this development of your conscious mind, resides in your subconscious, but is not readily accessed by the conscious.
Recognize the fact that your brain is yet just another organ in your body. It has one primary function, just as other organs do. Your heart circulates your blood, your lungs exchange oxygen from the atmosphere into your circulatory system, and your brain’s primary function is to create thoughts that protect you.
A starting point to understand your subconscious is to recognize our core survival instinct which is deeply embedded in all of us – our “fear or flight,” response. This primitive response is constantly online and alert. There is virtually no thing that you see do hear or experience, that your subconscious does not run through this primitive filter, and encourage you to either stay and fight, or take flight! This primitive response is filtered through all of the experiences that are held in your subconscious. This automatic and instantaneous response is rarely, if ever witnessed by your conscious self.
So here’s the catch! If your subconscious has been programmed through your history and experience to keep you safe with a regular patterned habit or response, no amount of willpower from your consciousness will ever win out. In order for you to effect permanent change in your life, both your conscious mind, and your subconscious mind, must be completely aligned with a particular belief.
An ideal example of this is how we can use smoking, alcohol, or drugs, to “medicate” or remove us from a situation which your subconscious knows will be painful. Your sub-conscious is prepared at all costs, to prevent you from re-experiencing a painful memory or event. Your subconscious has learned that the use of stimulants such allows you to take flight from the source of your angst, and from your subconscious’ point if you, you are safe.
The use of repeated regular affirmations can help you build your willpower, and slowly re-program your subconscious. But don’t forget, your subconscious has concluded its way of doing things based on your entire life history. A few dozen or even a few thousand statements may not be enough to get your subconscious on board with your conscious choices.
So How Do We Make Affirmations Work?
Affirmations can be a key and powerful tool to use in overall strategy for embracing positive life-changing events. Taking an integrated multi-modality approach to change is often the fastest and most powerful option. In working with an experienced psychotherapist with a broad range of experience, you can customize a plan for change that includes the use of such tools as hypnotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT-Tapping), life coaching and traditional psychotherapy.
No one size fits all when it comes to making change. Affirmations are a good start, but connect with an experienced psychotherapist/life coach, to develop a plan that will coordinate both your conscious and your subconscious beliefs, to effect permanent and long lasting change in your life.