Why Using Powerful Affirmations Isn’t For Everyone


Can powerful affirmations can make a difference in the outcome of your life and work goals?

Look at the work of positive thinkers and high achievers all around us.

People like Norman Vincent Peale who wrote The Power of Positive Thinking, to top athletes who use performance coaches, to top sales professionals like Zig Ziglar.

Did they use affirmations to get where they were going?

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

The bottom line is this: You won’t get very far if you don’t think you will.

You need to mentally set yourself up for success.

But powerful affirmations are only one element of positive thinking, and surprisingly, you shouldn’t dive right in to trying to use affirmations.

You need to lay some groundwork first.

What Are Affirmations?

First of all, we need to define affirmations.

You can get a more thorough answer about what affirmations are here, but in short, here’s what an affirmation is:

They are sentences aimed to affect the conscious and the subconscious mind which:

  •  motivate you
  •  keep your mind focused on your goal
  •  influence the subconscious mind and activate its powers
  • change the way you think and behave, which can bring you into contact with new people, who can help you with your goals
  •  are positive statements make you feel positive, energetic and active, and therefore, put you in a better position to transform your inner and external worlds.

When to Use Affirmations – And When Not To

While trying to use affirmations, have you ever battled with yourself in your mind, on the one hand trying to feel positive, and on the other simply not believing it?

Maybe you’ve tried powerful affirmations in the past, but never had any luck with them.

It is possible to re-program your conscious mind with affirmations, but you still have your subconscious mind and all your past “programming” and fears to contend with.

In other words, you try to think positive, but you just don’t believe it deep down.

When this happens, it’s like sprinkling sugar in a bucket of salt.

You can’t make a real impact until you change what you’re sprinkling your good stuff into. In other words, you have to change the landscape by doing some deeper emotional work.

Research shows that affirmations can make someone who feels good feel better, but they can’t fix someone in pain. In fact, it just points out the fact that your life isn’t where you want it to be.

If there is deep work to be done, that’s where coaching, therapy or hypnotherapy can be extremely useful.

If you don’t feel there is a deep emotional belief or issue surrounding what you’re working on, then tackling it on a higher level of consciousness (with affirmations) can work.

Author Louise Hay, founder of personal development publisher Hay House recommends,

[S]aying affirmations is only part of the process. What you do the rest of the day and night is even more important. The secret to having your affirmations work quickly and consistently is to prepare an atmosphere for them to grow in. Affirmations are like seeds planted in soil. Poor soil, poor growth. Rich soil, abundant growth. The more you choose to think thoughts that make you feel good, the quicker the affirmations work.”

If you say affirmations, but then think negatively or operate in a negative environment for the rest of the day, your affirmations have a huge mountain to climb.

You need to set them up for success by thinking positive thoughts as much as possible, and there’s no better way to do this than to truly address what’s going on in our lives.

Another Reason Powerful Affirmations Are A Bad Idea

If you have low self-esteem or otherwise think bad things about yourself, saying all kinds of good stuff about yourself that you just don’t believe yet may end up making you feel worse.

If that’s the case, you need to “go neutral first,” meaning that your affirmations need to have a neutral, rather than a positive tone.

If you can’t believe that you can run a marathon today, what do you believe? Here’s a post I wrote with an exercise that will help you chunk your goals and affirmations down to size.

A Third Circumstance To Steer Clear of Affirmations

Third, is fear.

Whatever your goal is, you may be running into fear that stops you from even trying to achieve it. And when you throw an affirmation at it, you might “get punched”  as Tim Brownson, a popular life coach says.


Because fear is not rational. It comes from a more primitive part of your brain, and trying to tell fear not to be afraid doesn’t work.

First, you’ll need to address the fear, and then you can work toward using a powerful affirmation.

For example, let’s say you have fears around confidence. True fears. Like someone might point and laugh at you, fears.

Repeating an affirmation in that circumstance might not only feel phony, but it also could, potentially, make the fear worse by setting off alarm bells in your nervous system.

Instead, addressing the fear directly might be a better route.

Do Affirmations Really Work? 

Ok! You’ve passed all of the tests above, and it seems you have a situation that’s ready to use an affirmation on.

Are affirmations just some new-age mumbo jumbo, or do they really work?

Well, they are not 100% fool proof, but in my experience (and the experience of thousands of others), they can work – sometimes.

However, the scientific evidence is mixed. There is a study that shows that they improve performance while in a high pressure situation.  But there is also a study that shows that they only work some of the time for people who already have high self-esteem, and actually make things worse for those who need affirmations the most.

Therefore, we need to be more thoughtful about why affirmations might work, and the circumstances under which we do and don’t want to use them (as I just reviewed).

Also, if you’re aligning your affirmation with your core values (instead of perhaps feeling like a stretch) they can work, as evidenced by this study in which the participants had better health outcomes using affirmations.

So stop trying to trick yourself with an affirmation. Instead use it to support something positive you already believe about yourself and use that to build up. 

Why Might Affirmations Work? 

If affirmations do work, why? Here’s a few theories:

First, when you repeat something to yourself over and over, you strengthen the neural pathway – essentially you rewire your brain to believe what you’re saying.

It’s been shown that our brains have “neuroplasticity,” in other words they are highly malleable and can adapt to new situations. If we give our brain new information or challenges, it rises to the occasion, physically creating a new connection that it never had before.

What that means is that you have now created a new way of thinking about the world and literally expanded your mind.

Here are 7 of the most effective ways to rewire your brain using affirmations.

Second, by repeating an affirmation, you’re letting your brain know what it should spend its time focusing on, and it gets busy working on finding solutions to achieving the goals you have set for yourself. 

Your brain is a highly efficient machine, focusing on what it needs to think about, and filtering out a great deal of information all the time. If you didn’t have these filters, you would be overwhelmed by the amount of sensory information coming at you that you just couldn’t process.

Your brain is selective in what it “sees.” Your affirmation is reprogramming your brain into seeing something new – something you’ve intentionally designed for your own benefit.

Noah St. John has taken affirmation one step further to something he calls afformations. Afformations are affirmations in the form of a question.

The theory is that your brain can’t stand the curiosity and information gap a question creates, and will seek to close it. Creating an afformation also helps you bridge the belief gap that people run into when they make statements about themselves that just don’t ring true yet.

Third, you can fake it until you make it. Affirmations are essentially auto-suggestion. You’re telling yourself that you’re more confident, thinner, richer or have more friends. And when you tell yourself those things, you subtly change your behavior in alignment with those beliefs.

In other words, you behave like a confident person or a thin person or a person building wealth or a person who is capable of having tons of friends. When you make those behavior changes, over time, you become more confident and more accustomed to this new way of being, until it is your actual way of being.

In fact, it may be so subtle, that it feels like it actually happened to you rather than it was something you did.

Using Powerful Affirmations 

Have you decided to go for it and give affirmations a try? Good for you!

Here are some powerful affirmations that can change the outcome of your career and life. These are some of the most powerful affirmations because they are not over the top. You might actually believe them, and use them as a stepping stone to build to the next level. 

These 7 affirmations address many areas of your life that you might want to change. Use them or amend them to suit your needs.

Affirmation 1: I have self confidence. People will benefit from their connection with me. 

At times, it can be tempting to believe that you don’t have anything to offer in a work or networking situation. The tendency is not to speak up, not to send that email, not to make the call.

But the more you believe that people want to hear your voice, your ideas and value their overall connection with you, the more likely you’ll be to put yourself out there.

Soon you’ll see that this is true.

You are needed and valued. People are lucky to know you and benefit from what you have to offer. Get out there and let your light shine!

Affirmation 2: I don’t need to settle. I deserve happiness.

You deserve to have a job that pays you for your skills and talents. The passion you put into your work should be rewarded. You don’t need to settle for mediocrity in pay or in the kind of work you do.

Setting your mind to this new level of thinking and refusing to be brought down will help you make decisions that feel in alignment in your career and in other parts of your life as well.

Affirmation 3: I don’t need to be bored. I’m here to do something I love.

The world is a pretty miraculous place. Your purpose here is no different. You are meant to do something special, not something that feels boring and that you just want to get through.

Remind yourself that you’re here to do something you love. Really shift your thinking around it, don’t just say it. Imagine how it feels to do something you love and then repeat the words. Capture that feeling.

Affirmation 4: I am creating more good in the world, not less.

Moving toward doing what you love or any other positive goal in your life creates more good in your life, not less. It’s important to keep that in mind when other people get freaked out about changes that we’re making.

Remind yourself that your positive growth is not cause for concern, and that you are not causing their suffering. You are creating more good in the world, not less.

Affirmation 5: I am open to receiving more good in my life.

It’s surprising how often we’re scared to receive more good in our lives. This fear of success has many reasons behind it, but one of them is the greater expectations that often go along with good things happening to us.

If you get a promotion and a raise, that goes along with more responsibility. If you land your dream job, you have to make a change and see if you really can do what you thought you could.

So, if you can recognize any fears that come up for you in order to resolve them beforehand, that will help this powerful affirmation become even more powerful. Even just knowing that these fears exist so you can name them when they rear their ugly heads will help.

Still, persist in using this affirmation and invite more good in your life.

Affirmation 6: I can overcome barriers to achieve goals in my life. I have the power to shape my future.

Do you believe in yourself? Right now you don’t need to believe that you can move mountains, but there’s nothing stopping you from achieving goals and going after whatever you want in your future.

These goals can be small or large. As long as you have some measure of belief in yourself, using an affirmation to remind yourself and build on that power can help you grow.

Affirmation 7: I have the energy and focus to do exactly what I intend.

Your mind and body are connected, and if you want to have more energy and focus to achieve your goals, you can use the mind-body connection to do just that.

Focus on the energy you do have and the ways you can build more.

Powerful Affirmations To Change Your Life

Powerful affirmations can change your life, but they are not a panacea. They must be used with care and in the right circumstances, and even then your mind is a complicated place that doesn’t work as predictably as we’d like.

Sometimes affirmations seem to work well, while other times they seem to do nothing or even be discouraging.

However, if you lay the groundwork to use affirmations, and start small, you can try to harness their power to make changes in your life and shape your future the way you dream.


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