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Why Empty Affirmations Don’t Work

By Pegah Kadkhodaian
Updated February 17, 2016

The idea of affirmations seems great and certainly easy enough. Say positive things to yourself for long enough and you might actually start to believe them.

Trust me, I was as into the movie The Secret as everyone else who saw it on Oprah years ago. And for the longest time, I tried it and tried it again. Just say the words and try to feel good so that things can begin to shift in your life.

Sometimes things would even begin to shift for the better, but often it felt like I was lying to myself and I simply couldn’t fabricate the feeling good part and inevitably, I would go back to my old ways. What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do it?

It was this insane cycle and for the longest time I really thought I was somehow defective.

Maybe it was just that I was fundamentally flawed. And yet, there was this little voice that didn’t quite believe that.

So, I began my inquiry. Why wasn’t it working? What did all these people with their consistent success have that I didn’t?

The universe (source, higher consciousness God, or whatever you want to call it) is amazing and it turns out that when you put a questions out there, it tends to deliver you the answer in a myriad of ways. Sometimes the messages are subtle and small and other times, you get the answer hand delivered without question.

For me, it was the latter and it came by way of my training in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and getting a deep understanding of the way our brains operate and what part of the mind is really running the show.

We think that the conscious part of our mind, the voice that is always chattering away at us is the one in charge and if you stop to really consider that, it just can’t be.

Think of all the things that your body is doing without any conscious direction from you. The entire mechanism actually runs unconsciously. Your brain is certainly telling the systems what to do but it is not the conscious part that is doing that. The same is true of your of your deep rooted beliefs and your behavior.

A great example of this is when you say you are going to do something and you wholeheartedly want to do it and yet find yourself doing the exact opposite thing or doing it for a while and then “falling off the wagon”. What the heck is going on there? It isn’t that you don’t have the willpower or that you’re defective in some way.

You unconscious mind is running the ship. It runs all the systems of your body, it stores your emotions based on what it has experienced and learned, and your beliefs limiting or otherwise also reside there. You may be consciously aware of some of it, and 95% is under the surface.

So, what happens is, we tell ourselves all the words we desperately want to believe not realizing that the reason it feels like a lie is that unconsciously we have contradicting beliefs.

It wasn’t until I spent some time digging around to uncover what my contradicting limiting beliefs and their corresponding emotions were that I was able to see exactly why life has been in this perpetual cycle of creating goals, saying affirmations, and then falling short.

I had to clean up the baggage first then take the action to create powerful new patterns. Once I was in action and in a positive mental and emotional state, the affirmations made sense and were an awesome way to keep my eye on the goal!

Pin It Here is the model I used to create lasting change and one that has proven to work time and again with my clients.

  1. Uncover and clean up the negative emotions and limiting beliefs
  2. Create a goal and get into action
  3. Keep your eye on the end result. (this is when affirmations make sense)

At the end of the day, positive thinking is awesome and we have to be sure that we believe the words we are saying because they are congruent with what we believe on the deepset level.

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Katherine Hurst
By Pegah Kadkhodaian
Having studied under experts in their field including Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, Iyanla Vanzant, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Dr. Mark Hyman to name just a few, Pegah is a board certified integrative nutrition coach. Pegah is also a certified master practitioner of NLP and a certified hypnotherapist. She is an E-RYT 200 certified yoga instructor and has taught and facilitated thousands of hours of yoga and yoga teacher training, as well as a variety of other mind, body, spirit programs and workshops. Pegah draws on diverse experiences to put together personal pathways to happiness and wellness for her clients and is grateful to share her passions into providing a tool for positive change in people’s lives.

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