Make It Stick

positive affirmation - Karen Vogelmann - Your Awesome Life

Most of you have heard of using positive affirmations to help you change your beliefs or your behavior. Some of you may even have used them. For some, it was successful and others soon dropped it because it seemed to make no difference.

The other day, I was presenting “Words Matter”, one of my presentations about the importance of choosing our words carefully. One part of the presentation included writing some negative or limiting belief statements that the audience shared and then “positivizing” them as a group. I do this as a group to point out some of the traps we can get into when positivizing statements.

positive affirmation - Karen Vogelmann - Your Awesome LifeAs I was speaking, this whole new aspect of affirmations opened up. First, let me give some examples of positive statements, and then explain this new aspect.

  • I am getting better and better every day in every way. (variation on Émile Coué’s revolutionary work on positive autosuggestion)
  • I am an outstanding pianist.

Have you ever begun using a positive affirmation and then heard this little voice inside of your head that says something like “that’s a lie!” or “no, you’re not!”? That voice pipes up when the new statement is hard to believe, because it’s so different from how you currently see yourself. Using that affirmative statement can actually backfire, because it simultaneously triggers the “no, you’re not” voice every time you use the new statement.

Dr. Coue’s statement is a much better choice in this instance, because it’s a lot harder for that inner voice to call it a lie. When you say, “I’m getting better at something”, you can usually find ways that it’s true when that little voice pops up.

So, if you begin to work with a new affirmation, listen for that voice inside. If you hear it, then it’s time to rewrite your statement like the first example. After you’ve used it a while, test out the strong second example and see if the voice is silent. Once the inner naysayer voice is silent, you can switch to the potent statement and really amp up the inner shifts that come from using it.

Remember, that with any new affirmative statement, you need to give it time to have an effect. If you’ve been telling yourself the negative version all of your life, it may take a little time for the positive version to shift all of that baggage from the past.

Also, remember the evidence that shows it takes about 21-28 days to create a new habit. Keep the positive movement by working with an affirmative statement for at least 21-28 days. Even if you notice improvement before then, keep working with it for 28 days. The effects are going to be worth it; I promise!