“I can do it!”
“I have what it takes.”
“I am a good person.”
Personal affirmations like the ones above are touted by most self-help gurus. They tell us to say these things to ourselves every day, emphasizing that you should look in the mirror when you say them.
I’m not knocking that – positive affirmations are definitely better than what most of us hear in our heads. Things like …
“How could you say something so stupid?”
“I’ll never make it. I’m a failure.”
Those gurus tell us that if we monitor our negative “self-talk” and replace it with positive affirmations, our lives will change dramatically.
The problem is – it doesn’t usually work so well. Your mind says, “Who are you kidding? You think saying these statements is going to magically make them true?” The words feel empty – lacking the power of transformation.
So what can be done? I discovered a few years ago that part of the reason why positive affirmations don’t work very well is that the negative statements we believe about ourselves are anchored by emotional experiences. As long as the emotional anchor is still there, no amount of pretty words is going to remove it.
In many cases, those negative statements were said to us when we were emotionally vulnerable – by someone we admired or loved (i.e. parent, teacher, coach). Sometimes we said them to ourselves when we felt rejected by someone else.
We’ve got to deal with the emotional anchor – the memory of the pain – before we can let go of the negative statement and replace it with a positive one. I am amazed that a lot of self-help books skip this part. It is critical to successful transformation!
Action step: In order to remove the negative statement you believe about yourself, you’ve got to get to the root. Just like in gardening, if you cut a weed at the base but leave the roots in the ground, guess what will happen? The weed will grow back – just like those negative thoughts. You have to dig into the dirt and pull the weed up by the roots. What’s nice is that when you do that, it leaves a little hole for the new seed to be planted. That’s where the positive affirmation comes in.
I have an exercise in my book called the Lie Detector. It can be used to “uproot” those negative statements you believe. It involves forgiving the person who caused you pain when they said those statements about you – sometimes that person was you.
If you’d like some help with the gardening process, please give me a call! I’d love to help you pull some weeds so you have space to grow beautiful flowers. What you plant will grow – the choice is YOURS. Contact me