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The Dark Side of Positive Affirmations

dancing mysteryLet’s talk affirmations. Actually, let’s talk about the seeming dark side of positive affirmations.

If you are new to affirmations, they are basically statements made about a feeling or thing you want to have that are stated in a positive as if you already have that feeling or thing. For example,

“I now love myself completely.”
“I now have my perfect job that I love.”
“I have more than enough of everything I need.”
“I am happy and healthy.”

Then you say these statements to yourself thousands of times a day until you start to really feel and embody what you are saying.

It’s a simple and basic concept based on the idea that our thinking influences our experience of life. So, changing our thought process and patterns can shift our perception of our life – making our experience of it feel better or worse depending on what thought patterns we are engaging in. 🙂

In general, I have found personally, and with my clients, that affirmations can and do work.

They just don’t always work in the way that we imagine they will – and if you’re anything like me – people often give up on them before they feel that shift to feeling and embodying what they are affirming.

There can be a bit of a seeming dark side to positive affirmations. As I have rather unpleasantly discovered recently.

See, I’ve been using the affirmation “I now forgive myself completely. I am free.” I chant it with mala beads, say it repeatedly in the car, and let it run through my head as I’m doing mindless household chores.

Then last week a lovely emotional shitstorm that felt like the exact opposite of self-forgiveness and freedom.

Guilt. Self-judgment. A very loud inner critic. Constriction. Fear. Feeling trapped. Anxiety overload.

As I was wrestling my way through tears and emotional exhaustion early last week part of me was asking, “What the hell? This is not how affirmations are supposed to work.”

Then one morning I realized, “Ah, actually yes, this is exactly how affirmations are supposed to work.”
Affirmations don’t magically transport us from misery to happiness, a job we hate to a job we love, lack to abundance, or unhealthy to health. We can’t just do a thousand affirmations and suddenly have everything we want.

That’s how we expect affirmations to work. It’s not how they actually work.

Affirmations bring up everything inside of us that is blocking our way to what we want. Affirmations bring all our shit up into the light so we can release it and move closer to what we want.

Affirm.
Shit comes up.
Clear it out.
Move closer to what we want.

Affirm.
Shit comes up.
Clear it out.
Move closer to what we want.

This is how affirmations actually work. If we have a lot of junk mucking up the path to what we want, then well, affirmations get a little messy for a while and it can feel like they aren’t working. They aren’t the magic fix-it pill that many of us (ahem, me) would like them to be.

They just give us another path to doing our work. They raise our awareness of how we are getting in our own way and give us the chance to get out of our own way.

Dammit. 🙂

It’s not always easy work. It certainly hasn’t been for me this past week. But I’m starting to see the bottom of the shitpile and the way seems a little clearer and brighter. I still have some work to do clearing out the inner landscape and uncluttering my path to deep self-forgiveness and freedom, but I’m getting closer and closer.

And I’m saying my affirmation all along the way to keep me focused on what I want. “I now forgive myself completely. I am free.”

It’s my flashlight lighting the pathway through the darkness.

How about you? Have you tried affirmations? How did they work for you?

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