Why Affirmations Don’t Always Work

By Kim Saeed | Heal Your Body

Jul 19

I love and accept myself openly

I am open to all good

I choose to be successful in each area of my life

These are wonderful affirmations.  I’ve used them myself on occasion.  Sometimes I’m successful in getting into a higher vibrational field (a.k.a. into alignment), or just feeling all shiny and happy by saying them.  On other days, though, those same words seem foreign to me.  It’s not that I don’t believe in them logically.  In my conscious mind, I do love myself and choose to be successful.

The trick is to convince my subconscious.

I’ve struggled with this off and on.  I wondered how there could be such a stark contrast in the outcome of saying these affirmations to myself.  Some proponents of affirmations say that just by planting the seed and saying them over and over again that our subconscious minds will eventually join the paddy wagon.  But, after doing them for days or weeks, I still experienced inconsistent results.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the simple act of saying affirmations won’t work for all people and, in fact, could possibly have a negative effect.  This is especially true for people who’ve experience depression or a traumatic event in their lives, such as death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, abuse, etc.

I’m no depression or grief expert, but I can say from personal experience that unless we’ve dealt with the underlying cause of those feelings, saying affirmations is like putting a band aid on a severed artery.  Unless your subconscious believes the affirmation is remotely possible, it will call you a liar.  Add that onto the top of the pile, and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

So, how do we overcome our hurts in order to get the best use of affirmations?  That will be different for everyone.  I’ve tried different things over the years to deal with my grief issues stemming from Narcissistic abuse, including seeing therapists.  While I saw a bit of progress, it was really more of an avenue to awaken my consciousness.  I saw each counselor once or twice, but I knew intuitively that they were far from seeing the way to my recovery.  I recently developed my own method for overcoming my grief, which has, so far, been successful.

Other people may experience great results with a counselor or therapist, so please don’t interpret my post as professional advice.  In fact, some people need this form of treatment, perhaps in combination with medication, because some disorders are caused by something one may be blocking or a chemical imbalance.

Back to the main point here…affirmations can work if they feel real to the subconscious mind.  For example, if you have self-esteem issues, saying “I love myself” probably won’t achieve much.  However, saying, “I let go of negative self-talk” several times a day might be more beneficial.

Affirmations are simply a way to change the programming of our subconscious minds.  All events and experiences we’ve had since childhood make up that programming.  Each time we experience an event, our subconscious mind sorts through our stored data to find a connection between the past and the present.  When it finds a similar event, it sends back a signal to behave the same way we did before.

Positive affirmations are a way of writing over the old code in order to get different results, kind of like installing new software.  In order for them to be effective, they must be stated in present tense.  Only rarely should you use the words “one day” because the mind will delay the desired event to a future time that never really arrives.

In short, affirmations will work when combined with your unique method of overcoming the past and saying affirmations that your subconscious believes.  It’s best to write them down and keep them in a place you will see them throughout the day.  (Some people have been known to secure them on the ceiling above their bed to see them first thing upon awakening).  Here are some good ones to get you started:

I am always doing the best I know how

I forgive any guilt at all times

I send love to my fears

I am willing to step out of my comfort zone

In this moment, everything is okay

I release my attachment to _________________

I can’t wait to see what gifts this day brings

And my personal favorite:

Can it get any better than this?  This one challenges the universe to raise the bar on your current circumstances 🙂

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(10) comments

barbarafranken July 20, 2013

Lovely piece kim…. I’ve found that if there is no passion, no feelings behind my IAM…. statements they won’t work… we have to convince our subconscious… it also takes the physical body a little while to adapt to the new choices we make… Accepting our mind and our thoughts is also a big part of getting it/them to tame and integrate with our heart and passion… like teaching years of mental thinking to feel…. It’s all part of our journey, discovering what works for us… Barbara x

Reply
    Kim Saeed July 20, 2013

    Barbara, thank you for your thoughtful and helpful comment! I think affirmations are wonderful…if our vibrational level is high enough for them to be of benefit. I didn’t think about the body being ready to receive them; that’s very insightful and makes sense!

    Reply
prog4 July 19, 2013

I have often felt that such affirmations essentially equate to “trying to convince yourself”.
If you do not truly believe or “feel” something no amount of affirmation will change that.

Reply
Kim Saeed July 19, 2013

Thanks, Eva!

Reply
Eva Namuju (@EvaNamu1) July 19, 2013

I ‘ve tried affirmations for years but they don’t seem to work. Love your article!

Reply
Miriam Slozberg (@msmir) July 19, 2013

Yes, affirmations are meaningless if your old stuff is getting into the way. I am working on this myself. You are doing well.

Reply
    Kim Saeed July 19, 2013

    Thanks, Miriam….Well, some days are better than others 😉

    Reply
Randy Walker July 19, 2013

Kim,
I like the balanced approach of this piece. We are frail human beings; hence I believe too many affirmations become silly and counter productive if they are overused without considering the reality of our current plane of existence. Negative feelings, such as anger and resentment, toward real or perceived wrongs perpetrated on us by others, can keep us “stuck.” Think about it: We are ALL human beings who inhabit a sphere with a molten rock center, which is hurdling through space while rotating on its axis and orbiting the sun at the same time. We are not sure how we got here, when we are going to leave, and where we are going when we leave. So, why not forgive others for their shortcomings and try to help instead of judging?

Reply
    Kim Saeed July 19, 2013

    I’m always delighted when you drop by. I love your insight and input on anything that I write.

    Yes, it’s silly to think affirmations will just work as if by magic. In order to make any real progress, we first have to heal. Part of that healing involves forgiveness.

    Reply
jenniferhelps July 19, 2013

Brilliant Advice, Kimmie, as usual… you are a Rock Star!
Keep up the outstanding work and progress!

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