You probably heard about affirmations before. You might even have tried doing affirmations as part of a self-development process. But have you being performing them in a way that will bring you the results you want?

You see, to be effective you must fully believe in the affirmation you are performing. And I find that that’s where most people fall short. Repeating a sentence without fully understanding or accepting its content will not change how you feel about something.

So let’s look at a better way of doing it, shall we?

First, what are affirmations?

Affirmation is simply the action or process of stating something with conviction. And you know what? We do it all the time. Just not in the most beneficial way.

For instance, have you ever said something along the lines “oh I’m so stupid”, “I can’t get anything right” or “I’ll never get a good job”?

If so, you have been practising affirmations. Negative ones though.

Every time that you repeat something like this, you are reinforcing a belief.

But what are beliefs? Beliefs are imaginary rules that guide our actions and behaviours. Things such as our rights, duties, abilities and permissions. This set of rules are formed as we grow up and older, through previous experiences and the influence of the environment around us.

The problem is that they can also come as a result of faulty logic, assumptions and fears. And when that happens, we start basing our decisions on a distorted view of the world which can hold us back big time.

The good news is that those rules are not absolute truths. They are just mental constructs created at a certain point in life and can be changed whenever we feel that they are not serving us anymore.

And we can use affirmations to change a pre-existing belief.

When I was a child, I used to get very frustrated when I couldn’t find an answer for my homework. I remember sitting in front of my workbook, crying and repeating “I don’t know.” To which my mum would immediately make me rephrase it “I don’t know but I will learn.” And you know what? It made me shift from a negative belief  (I don’t know) into a positive one (but I will learn). If it wasn’t for this reframe, I would probably still be feeling extremely frustrated whenever I couldn’t figure out something immediately.

So here’s how you can apply this concept.

Step 1. Start with a negative beliefs you want to reframe. E.g. I’m such a failure.

Step 2. Find ways of challenging the thought pattern. E.g. Is this a fact or an assumption? What am I basing this statement on? Is there evidence against it? How can I see this differently?

Step 3. Reframe the thought pattern. E.g. Well, I made a mistake and that happens. I am learning from it and next time I’ll do better.

Step 4. Practice self-awareness and repeat the new pattern. Every time you notice that you are repeating the negative statement, interrupt the pattern and introduce the new affirmation. The more you repeat it, the more you will reinforce it.