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The Problems with Positive Affirmations

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Aurora, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    What a fascinating article! Really, a great read. Thanks so much for sharing it, Balto.

    Undoubtedly, positive thinking enhances our health. But I think what this article doesn't take into account is the repercussions of repeating positive statements (affirmations) that we cannot accept as true. Sure, the statements on their own are beneficial but I think if we don't fully believe them, if we're not ready to believe them, then we open ourselves up to internal conflict that either manifests as critical internal dialogue or as TMS symptoms (aka repressed critical internal dialogue). So I think it does matter if the positive thoughts are irrational. It does matter whether we believe what we say to ourselves.

    I know I absolutely cannot say affirmations I do not fully believe because I will start to argue with myself in a counterproductive and ultimately rather destructive way. In other words: having a positive thought that I do not believe essentially creates negative thoughts and a cycle of negative thinking that can be difficult to break. And this article is quite clear about the consequences of negative thinking!

    So, I find that statement about irrational positive thinking still being beneficial pretty inconsistent with my personal experience, as well as, I think, Aurora's original post starting this thread (please correct me if I'm wrong, @Aurora !). Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

    (Aurora, I'll add that I also second what @Solange wrote about adding "I wish" at the beginning of an affirmation. It allows you to still introduce positive thinking while not making your unconscious distraught because it doesn't believe the statement yet!)
  2. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    ...I should add that I really loved this article, as it has lot of great thoughts and some fascinating stuff on the power of language! That aspect/inconsistency just happened to stand out to me and wanted to get others thoughts on (it if you guys have any that is)!
  3. balto

    balto Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Becca, Affirmation will not work for sure if we don't believe in it. It is just a tool to help us achieve the feeling we want. I think it would help if we "choose" to believe in it. Like a good actor really living his role, he can cry with real tear, he can laugh convincingly, his face turn blood red when he get angry... We have to play the role we want to achieve.
    If you want to be happy, "act" happy. Really really happy. If you want to be strong and healthy, act strong and healthy. The result will come.
    It take years for us tmsers to become chronic worriers. It will take sometime to reverse a life time of bad habit. Health worry and negative thinking is a bad HABIT, a bad addiction. We need to replace it with new and more positive habit. The challenge is it will take at least 28-30 days to acquire a new habit and longer to eliminate old bad habits.

    If you keep saying: "I will win the lottery this week" over and over again, it won't happen. But saying realistic, achievable positive affirmation is achievable. We just have to "choose" to believe it, really live it, refuse to give up, be patient...

    Here is a story I love to share with others:
    The experts said it couldn’t be done
    According to legend, experts said for years that the human body was simply not capable of a 4-minute mile. It wasn’t just dangerous; it was impossible.
    Further legends hold that people had tried for over a thousand years to break the barrier, even tying bulls behind them to increase the incentive to do the impossible.
    In the 1940′s, the mile record was pushed to 4:01, where it stood for nine years, as runners struggled with the idea that, just maybe, the experts had it right. Perhaps the human body had reached its limit.
    The breakthrough
    On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, running the distance in 3:59.4. As part of his training, he relentlessly visualized the achievement in order to create a sense of certainty in his mind and body.
    Barely a year after Bannister’s accomplishment, someone else ran a mile in under 4 minutes. Then some more runners did.Now, it’s almost routine. Even strong high-schoolers today run 4-minute miles. [Note: this used to say "24 people broke the 4-minute mark within a year of Bannister. This is wrong; see the comments.]
    What does this mean for us?
    I don’t know about you, but for me, a 4-minute mile is probably not in the cards. (5 minutes? Maybe one day.) That’s not the point. The point is this: It took a sense of extreme certainty for Roger Bannister to do what was considered un-doable. He alone was able to create that certainty in himself without seeing any proof that it could be done.
    But once he crashed through that barrier, the rest of the world saw that it was possible, and the previous record that had stood for nine years was broken routinely.
    - See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/4-minute-mile-certainty/#sthash.mghcogyt.dpuf
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love your approach. I think for me there is too much "non-attunement" BS meter when I have tried to use affirmations. There is self deception, self improvement, self coersion in the way affirmations are used internally in my psychodynamic structure. Can't help it. And part of me knows this.

    Your approach feels empathic: attuning to what a deep part of me wants, being real, and taking a gentle action of love. Bravo!

    Funny how our individual personalities/history affect the approaches we take with ourselves, and how individual we are!! This is part of the self-attunement and "individuation" that I think TMS learning takes us to.
    Solange likes this.
  5. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    I've always thought of affirmations as "programs", like computer programs, but for our brain. I was a computer programmer for a few years and I really loved being able to write programs that made the computer do what I wanted it to do. I see affirmations like this. Affirmations aren't necessarily what I believe is true at the moment. They represent what I choose for my future results.

    T. Harv Eker wrote this about programming of the mind:
    "Your programming leads to your thoughts; your thoughts lead to your feelings; your feelings lead to your actions; your actions leads to your results. Therefore, just as is done with a personal computer, by changing your programming, you take the first essential step to changing your results." I would also add that your results reinforce the programming. :)
  6. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    Thanks for the clarification, Balto. As I was reading your post, I realized that what really gets in the way of me and affirmations is fear: fear that what I'm saying will never happen in my life, and also fear that whatever I'm saying will come true (the "waiting for the other shoe to drop" thinking: more progress means more people to disappoint, a longer way to fall).

    Though fear is a huge obstacle for me and positive thinking/affirmations (and an obstacle for a lot of other things, but that's besides the point here!) I also think fear helps distinguish an affirmation from "wishful thinking" (like the example you shared of saying "I will win the lottery this week" over and over). It's almost like my fears serve a purpose. They're inadvertently telling me these positive statements are important, something worth paying attention to. Given this, perhaps focusing on the message that the presence of fear generates ("If fear is there, it must be important"), rather than focusing on the messages themselves will help let affirmations really sink in, or as you say, Balto, "live it, refuse to give up."

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