“Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Power Of Affirmations
Part 5 of a 7 part series by my friend Nancy Barry-Jansson
Having debunked these:
MYTH #1: “I don’t do affirmations.”
MYTH #2: “Oh, I’ve tried affirmations…they don’t work.”
MYTH #3: “I’ll start doing affirmations when I figure out how I can meet my goals.”
MYTH #4: “Affirmations are a form of brainwashing.”
…It’s time to check out:
The Power of Affirmations MYTH #5: “Affirmations are too ‘new-agey’ for me.”
Or similarly, “Affirmations are only for highly religious people.”
Not only can you use affirmations regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it is very effective to incorporate both. In this post, the term religious refers to folks who prefer to be involved with an organized religion, while spiritual refers to folks who prefer a New Age/New Thought approach, combine their approaches, or do not adhere to any one organized religion.
While there are a lot of new age practitioners who tout the value of positive affirmations, the truth is that the concept is as old as the ages. The origins of affirmations are not clear, but some believe that affirmations originated as prayers that were memorized by a predominantly illiterate population. This would make sense, as most people would only be able to memorize brief passages, and if they had a bit of a lilt or rhyme to them, it would make them easier to remember and say repeatedly throughout the day.
In the early 1800s, French psychologist Emile Coué began teaching people to say the affirmation, “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”In so doing, he helped many people to overcome their personal issues and became known as the father of affirmations.
Recently, I was reading an overview of Huna, the ancient spiritual practice of the native Hawaiian people. Native Hawaiian priests and healers, known as Kahunas, had a deep understanding of the role of the subconscious in connecting our minds with our souls as a way of achieving goals. The Kahuna would first fill the body with positive energy (called Mana), and then would engage the help of the subconscious mind, just as positive affirmations do. Practices nearly identical to Huna have been discovered in remote African tribes, and the Chinese Qui Gong is also very similar, which leaves many researchers to believe that the concept has ancient roots shared by many cultures.
The whole field of sports psychology is rooted in the power of affirmations and visualization. Today’s elite athletes use affirmations in conjunction with visualization to imagine themselves doing their personal best and winning. In fact, the 1980 Russian Olympic team discovered that their athletes were far more likely to be successful if they visualized themselves being successful at the same time that they said affirmations, than if they just practiced without affirmations and visualization.
Researchers testing the theory with a basketball team, split the team into 3 groups: 1. Players who practiced daily for several hours, 2. Players who practiced for 1 hour and spent the remaining hours saying affirmations and visualizing themselves making baskets and winning games, and 3. Players who were kept off the court. After several weeks of this, they played the team. Surprisingly, the first group who practiced regularly, was only slightly better than the group that hadn’t played at all. The second group was overwhelmingly better.
So, to think that affirmations are only a new-age fad would be to ignore their long and successful history in helping people to achieve their goals in a positive way.
While it is believed that affirmations may have started as brief memorized prayers, that is certainly not their only use, and it would be sad to it them as such. Yes, the Bible alludes to the concept of affirmations in several locations. Here is just a quick sample from a web search:
Matthew 7:7 (New American Standard Bible)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Luke 11:9 (NASB)
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Mark 11:24 (NSAB)
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”
Philippians 4:8 (King James Version/Public Domain)
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Matthew, Luke, and Mark all point to asking what you really want, then believing that you have received them. The passage from the Philippians speaks about focusing your thoughts on positive subjects. All of them are referring to the concept of positive affirmations.
Some of the people who buy my affirmation cards like to write their favorite Bible verses on their cards, and in this way, they use the statements from the Bible in lieu of personal affirmations. Does that mean that is the only way to use affirmations? Absolutely not! To say that positive affirmations are not only for religious people is to, once again, limit their use and value.
By the way, when I chose the name, AffirmingSpirit™, for my line of blank affirmation cards, I was referring to the universal concept of spirit as the attitude or principle that pervades thought, such as ‘school spirit’. But, I was also aware that the process of affirming ones most precious goals and dreams does in fact honor the individual spirit at the same time that it brings one into touch with their inner spirit. All are good things. Regardless of your personal religious or spiritual beliefs, positive affirmations are a wonderful addition to your life and can be used in whatever way best supports you in being the best that you can be.
So, positive affirmations are not limited to new-age or religious people, nor are they limited to athletes or non-athletes. They work for anyone interested in working with them! Follow the principles, and follow through with appropriate action, and you will see results. It’s that simple.
Join us for a look at Affirmation Myth #6 tomorrow.
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