Affirmations for Writers
Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.
This phrase (translated from French) was introduced to the world by pharmacist Emile Coué, the first advocate for the use of positive affirmations for self-improvement in 1870.
Positive affirmations using this phrase were used in his medical clinic by his patients, who (reportedly) experienced recovery rates that were five times faster than those of other similar clinics across Europe.
Since then, positive affirmations have been co-opted by varying thought and wellness groups and touted – effectively and ineffectively – as the solution to everything from bad body image to financial and romantic troubles.
Positive statements that describe a desired situation, which are often repeated, until they become impressed on the subconscious mind and manifest in actual change: it sounds too good to be true.
After all, who wouldn’t want to be successful, find love, and become a millionaire just by saying a few words in the morning?
Do they work?
But how do these positive affirmations for writers that (seem to) give us so much actually work? Will we become a better writer? And, if so, how can we tap into the power of positive affirmations for the best effect?
Or, do they even work at all?
Well, the answer to that is…
And also no.
The skeptics say…
Some people think that positive affirmations are purely empty self-praise, or momentary mood boosters, and that hitting yourself with the cold, hard facts when you’re down is the only way to go.
Sophie Henshaw from Psych Central even cites a study from the National Institute of Health that she believes disproves the effectiveness of positive affirmations.
Basically, she says, some negative thoughts are too ingrained in our psyche as ‘the truth’. And when we attempt to change that belief with positive affirmations, that deep-seated belief, our subconscious ‘truth’, fights against it. And, ironically, the negative thoughts we had about ourselves originally can become even stronger.
Henshaw says failure at fulfilling the actions of positive affirmations – like finding a car spot, or getting a dream job – just makes people feel undeserving, or like their failure was ‘meant to be’, and insists instead on interrogative questioning of yourself as an immediate answer to success.
…but have they got it wrong?
But these criticisms are ignoring the original purpose and processes of positive affirmations.
Coué didn’t intend that affirmations would be able to change things that were out of our control – like finding a car spot, that could be taken by one in a hundred other people searching for the same spot – but rather, to change a person’s psychological programming by by-passing their will and subconscious.
The right way
The proper process is not to pick a specific problem or issue, or focus too intently on the statement, but rather, to retain a semi-focus that allows words to sink into the subconscious.
When the affirmation enters your subconscious it becomes true because the subconscious doesn’t know what’s right or wrong, it merely retains information.
So, if you believe what you’re saying – or rather, don’t say something so contradictory that your conscience self will rise up to resist it – then this will enter your subconscious and become true to you.
It’s as simple as the mind-body connection proven true by the placebo effect. According to the American Cancer Council, approximately one out of three patients’ physical health condition actually improves if that person truly believes that are being treated.
Simply the belief that something is curing them is enough to cure them.
So, if this simple mind trick works for people who are fighting sickness and disease, why can’t you stand in front of the mirror in the morning and say,
I am a billionaire,
20 times, and suddenly be surrounded by riches?
Because — it’s too specific, and it contradicts your internal belief system. It’s not in congruence with what you know to be true.
It turns out there are two main factors that affect the success of your affirmations. Let’s have a look at them:
1. They are based in truth
Calvin Correli explains that the way he made positive affirmations work for him, after years of avoiding them for fear of failure, was that he picked affirmations that were rooted in an aspect of truth that was just buried amongst negative thoughts, and that were under his control.
Things that he affirms, examines, and that can then change from within.
And as we develop our own affirmations, whether for writing or otherwise, they must be based in truth. As an example, pick something like this:
I write really well and my publisher loves me.
If negativity is blocking your creativity this kind of affirmation will work, because you know you are a good writer, you are just not feeling the love right at this moment.
You know your publisher thinks you’re great (mostly!), they’re just under pressure, and therefore putting you under pressure to Give. Them. Something. Now.
2. You can control the action
The affirmation works because it’s based on something that you truly believe; and something that is within your control — not on reliant upon external forces or factors that you can do nothing about.
So if you close your eyes and cross your fingers and say,
I will win the lottery, I will win the lottery…
100 times over, will your chances of actually winning the lottery increase?
Because the lottery is determined by a calculation of probabilities that is mathematically inflexible, and your probability of winning remains at 1 in 13,983,816 despite your affirmations. Winning the lottery is completely out of your control.
It’s the same with affirmations about finding love, or landing a dream job: yes, of course positive thinking can help you in your personal approach to these things, but they are also dependent on other external factors that you can’t fully control.
You can ace your interview with confidence and charm built from positive affirmations, but you can’t control the experience and confidence of the next person to interview who just might be better than you.
Brute force and persistence can’t change something that isn’t based in proof or under your control. The answer to change, as always, lies within yourself.
Affirmations for writers
So if you want to make personal changes to your writing through positive affirmations, focus on your problem and try to draw out the grain of true positivity. Focus on this and then let it slowly sink into your subconscious. And don’t be too specific about it.
For example, instead of,
I will write the best book on happiness that was ever written,
I am creative, resourceful, and always do the best I can.
This has to be true, or you wouldn’t be who you are, now, would you?
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