Why Your Affirmations Aren’t Working


affirmations on a board

Can affirmations work?

Affirmations, as taught by many people, are things you say that you want to be true.  You just “name it and claim it”, or more crudely, “blab it and grab it”. They teach you to pick a reality that you desire and then state that as a present fact.  Now, real affirmations are very effective, but these pseudo affirmations are not.  Let’s be clear about what I mean by “affirmations”.  Here’s the dictionary definition of affirmation:

  1. . the act or an instance of affirming; the state of being affirmed.
  2. . the assertion that something exists or is true.
  3. . something that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.
  4. . confirmation or ratification of the truth or validity of a prior judgment, decision, etc.
  5. . Law. a solemn declaration accepted instead of a statement under oath.

Notice that it stems from the verb “affirm”. Here’s what the dictionary has to say about that word:
verb (used with object)

  1. . to state or assert positively; maintain as true:
    to affirm one’s loyalty to one’s country; He affirmed that all was well.
  2. . to confirm or ratify:
    The appellate court affirmed the judgment of the lower court.
  3. . to assert solemnly:
    He affirmed his innocence.
  4. . to express agreement with or commitment to; uphold; support:
    to affirm human rights.

verb (used without object)

  1. to state something solemnly before a court or magistrate, but without an oath.
  2. to ratify and accept a voidable transaction.
  3. (of an appellate court) to determine that the action of the lower court shall stand.

The key idea here is the truth. The Carpenter from Galilee had something to say about this (Mark 11:22-24):

22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Look closely at verse 23.  You can have whatever you say IF you do not doubt that what you say will come to pass.  Imagine speaking to a mountain when your inner voice is saying “are you nuts?”.  Too often, that is what is happening when people are trying to create a new reality. They don’t believe that what they are saying is the truth. They have no confidence in their own words.

I can hear you thinking “Okay Mr. smarty Pants, so it doesn’t work unless I believe.  How do I make myself believe?”

I’m glad you asked.

Here are five steps that are simple to describe, and simple to do, but very difficult at the same time. Commit to these steps and you can design a wonderful life for yourself.

Have Faith in God

The fool has said in his heart “There is no God.” I am assuming you are no fool. If the concept of “God” is too theological for you, then have faith in an orderly universe.  We live in a Cosmos, not chaos. There is a principle of cause and effect, another of action and reaction.

Guard Your Words

Avoid sarcasm and irony. Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Begin to develop trust that your words are not the opposite of your intentions.

Practice Acting on Your Word

Make no commitments that you don’t intend to keep. Learn to say no at the appropriate times. Make no promises that you don’t have the ability to keep.

Find Reasons for Believing Your Affirmations

Is the Universe conspiring against you or working on your behalf? Should you expect good to follow you? Progress is difficult when you secretly believe that you don’t deserve what you are affirming. Here are some starters:

16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. (John 3:16-18 in the Message)

11-15 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets. (Colossians 2:13-15 in The Message)

Only Declare What You Can Believe

Let’s say you want to have more income. Let’s say you have found an income opportunity that you believe will make you wealthy. If you are broke and you declare to your mirror “I have a million dollars in the banK”, you know that you are lying.  “Fake it ’til you make it” sounds good, and might fool others, but deep down you know the truth.. Instead of lying to yourself, you could say “I am on my way to having wealth.”  or “If I work my business, I will get customers and partners and together we will succeed.” The key is to make declarations you can actually believe.

What about what Jesus said about believing when you pray? Fine, if you believe that you receive, then say that. The guideline is to only say what you can believe in your heart. Once you have confidence that what you say comes to pass, you can have whatever you say.



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