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Episode 37 - Can Affirmations Really Work?

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Welcome to Episode 37

Do affirmations really work? Called a lot of nonsense and fluff by many, affirmations may be the easiest thing you can start doing right now to change your life for the better. With a few quick steps to ensure they are done for maximum affect, we unpack what happens neurologically and how to use our brain to make affirmations work for us, forever for the purpose of starting to notice things we may not have noticed in the past, to find evidence for things we want to find evidence of (instead of the bad stuff or deficiencies we may have), to start feeling better about ourselves, our work, and what we're doing with our lives. It's easier and more effective than you think.

In this podcast, you'll learn:
  • How to do affirmations that work

  • The secret ingredients nobody tells you

  • Why, when done properly, they are so powerful

Featured:
Episode Transcript:

AFFIRMATIONS

EP #37

 

“Do I need a life coach?” You’re listening to Episode 37, with Rhiannon Bush

 

Welcome to the Do I need a life coach? Podcast. We’re here to discuss the ins- and outs- of the life coaching industry and give you tools to use, to see for yourself. I’m your host, Rhiannon Bush. Mother, management consultant and a passionate, certified life coach.

 

The thing about making affirmations work for you, and it took me a little while to learn this, is that you must eventually link the feeling with the thought. And the more intense you can make the feeling, the better the affirmation will work. And it may take time. It definitely takes practice. Because the reason that you are choosing the affirmation is because that's something that you want to have and feel that you don't already have, right? So, instead of having the feeling and then recognising the thought, this is about working in reverse - consciously creating the thought, to generate the feeling.

 

Let’s back it up for just a minute. An affirmation is like a self-mantra. A self-slogan or statement that you repeat to yourself to pep yourself up or keep you focused on what it is you want or how you want to feel.

 

We grow up in a way that teaches us to feel on the inside, based on what our outside world is telling us. As we grow up and go through life, we let our environment inform who we are, by telling us what we should think, feel, and behave.  As I’ve heard many people say, there isn’t a class in school that teaches us how to label, allow and therefore process our feelings. And that’s one of the reasons we have so many feelings, because not only are we not trained in how to process emotion and they can be emotions we’ve experienced since (or depending on your belief system, before) birth, and instead we over-drink, over-eat, over-use social media, etc… we use crutches which usually has us comparing ourselves to others, or suppressing our feelings, but on top of that, our society enables us to focus on what other people have, on how we should look, or opinions we should have or what we need to be popular, rich, cool.

 

A fellow coach of mine named Shelley has just rebranded and put out on Facebook her new group, which is sex positive, for people who don’t fit the societal mould, and very much aimed at sexual liberty and . And I’m so proud of her. She really helped me after I had children so the fact that she’s being so, so courageous now and publicly declaring that she’s available to help other people with their mojo absolutely thrills me. I’ll put her details in the show notes for anybody who wants to check her out.

 

Also, when we are young our biggest influences from the ages of 0 to 7 which is also known as our imprint phase, and continuing into the developmental age of 7 to 14, our predominant influences are our parents.

 

After about the age of 14 our biggest influence becomes our peer group. And that’s one of the reasons you’ll often see groups of teenagers looking the same as one another. Every American movie has that, if you watch any American pie movie or High School Musical, Mean Girls, Friday Night Lights, you’ve got the sporties, you’ve got the barbies, you’ve got the artsy kids, you’ve got the emo kids, the nerdy kids… It’s because we want to conform and fit in with our peer group, and because of unconscious bias, cultural conditioning and our brains feeling safe and relaxed with what is familiar, we make an effort to conform and be similar to be accepted. We do this in the way of appearance first and foremost, what we wear, how we look, and, secondly, in behaviour, what we say and what we do. And this often feeds into our hardwired biological needs to feel worthy and to feel loved.

 

Those hardwired needs do not change throughout our life, but after our puberty years and into early adulthood, we start to discover who we want to be in the world as an adult. And that is when our main influence becomes ourselves.

 

And by the time our main influence is ourselves, we have been so influenced by our environment, whether it’s people, place, society, culture, religion… it can be hard to hear our own voice. But… I promise you, our true voice is there, and it can be heard. It is actually the strongest voice we hear. And that’s why if you are somebody who is suffering a lot of internal conflict, and that can look as simple as not being able to make a decision or have an opinion, right through to quite serious anxiety or depression, it’s because who you truly are and who you truly want to be is not in alignment. There’s a gap. That may be because what your inner voice is saying contradicts the way society or family has requested you conform, or because you have a different picture for the person you want to be, than the person you actually are.

 

So affirmations are, in my opinion, the easiest path to begin making a change. And often, when you start committing to an affirmation, the feeling is not there at all. Actually, it feels like a complete lie.

 

There are many people who have said this doesn't work, and arguments and probably science that say affirmations do not work. They worked for me. They also worked for many of my clients. So despite all of the contradictory information, I'm going to bring to you what I know has worked for me. Let alone the number of times we see athletes pep themselves up and things like that.

 

So when we talk about affirmations, we are consciously generating thoughts, to get our reticular activating system and neurology focusing on consciously generate feelings. Whether the feeling is there in the beginning or not, by consciously asking our brains to find it, our brains will work hard to achieve that. By consciously choosing words and language that we want… to inspire an emotion within us to help us take action, we can do that provided the emotion is something we want and we can focus and repeat it often enough to instil the change. Our brains like to be efficient. They like to automate as much as possible and this takes repetition. So choosing an affirmation, consciously asking our mind to find the emotion in our body, create a sense of that emotion with the words of the affirmation and repeating this means our mind will search for and be inspired more automatically and unconsciously over time.

 

The repetition of your affirmation, and I do singular – affirmation, I recommend you give yourself one powerful affirmation at a time to focus on, repeat, breathe into. And that means that we can overtime, automate that one thought and feeling, our brain will commit it to our subconscious, and then our unconscious, which means it becomes habit, and ritual, and it's something that we can do without thinking anymore. Then we can do it with something else. To me that is what reinvention is all about, this is where it starts.

 

Repetition is the key to embedding a habit, a feeling, a thought.. anything. It’s not the number of times or the number of days. Our neurology is like… if any of you are farmers and you know what an electric fence looks like, the electric wire often sits a little bit inwards from the rest of the fence. And at either end of the fence is a little V with a plastic circular thingy to keep that electric wire off the rest of the fence so the electricity doesn’t run through the entire fence. If you were to imagine that plastic bit going right along the electric fence, that’s like our neural pathways. The electric pulses that travel along our neurology can go as fast as the myelin sheath allows. The myelin sheath is the plastic bit of our neurology that coats the pathway. The thicker that coat is, the quicker the electric pulses can travel, which means the quicker we can have the thought. For our subconscious and unconscious, the myelin sheath is very thick which means those electric pulses travel so fast we don’t get a chance to recognise the thought that’s stimulated the emotion or action.

 

Repetition is the first way strong neurological pathways are formed. The second is a highly emotional and sudden event. So when an event happens that is shocking and therefore highly emotional, it creates what is called a super highway in the brain. Thick myelin sheath, fast electric pulses and that’s why trauma can be so difficult and take time to overcome. Because that neurology is so strong, training yourself out of it will take repetition and practice, plus processing whatever emotion is associated with that event.

 

Let me caveat, affirmations may work for significant events. I’ve actually never tried but honestly I’d definitely give it a go, so why not give it a try?! Another beauty of affirmations is it costs absolutely NOTHING to give it a try. It’s just about stealing from somebody you want to be more like, or writing yourself a truly empowering statement, breathing into the visual and emotional weight of that empowerment and saying it out loud to yourself. Literally there’s not much more to it. Doing it in the mirror every morning, every night and when you remember, through the day.

 

If affirmations don't work for you, there are a few reasons why. The first may be because there is too much secondary gain you have with how you are right now. It’s comfortable, it’s safe, and by staying that way your subconscious is so content, it will argue with you a lot if you try to make a change.  This means the secondary gains and the root cause of the problem you’re experiencing is what needs to be looked at first, and then when that has been addressed, the secondary gains identified and cleared, then affirmations can be used to consciously generate new thoughts and feelings.

 

The second reasons affirmations may not work is because you aren’t breathing into it to really conjure up the emotion. The intent may be right, but if you don’t truly want the words you’re saying and you don’t even try to feel it when you say it, focus on it, breath into it. Either stop or change the words so you actually want the thing and can go into imagination land with the feeling.

 

I do appreciate that this can initially be surface level, and that it can seem quite superficial. I remember when I first started to do it an affirmation, my affirmation was “I am amazing” and it was something I struggled to even say quietly, let alone out loud at the time let alone stand up in front of a group of people which I did later on in my journey in my coach training, and I could say to a whole group very confidently “I am amazing”. And I can say it to anyone, because it's something I truly believe. But before I had started doing this affirmation, I didn't think it, I didn't feel it, I didn't believe it. And, because I couldn't even say it, I couldn't train my reticular activating system [RAS] to look for evidence of that. So instead my brain was focusing on other things… yes mostly negative, and the things I didn't like about myself, instead of I am amazing and all the positive things that meant instead.

 

Lately, I’ve been working with “I have all I need” for the purposes of becoming more grateful and appreciative of the life I have.

 

Think of a person now that inspires you. Someone you may wish you were more like, someone who has something you may want. What characteristic – internal quality, the predominant one you’d guess they have that you don’t? If you had that, what do you think would change? Would it help you get closer to what you want?

 

Take the time to write your one sentence and remember it’s not written in stone. You can change it, amend it, make it your own. The key to making affirmations work is commitment, feeling and breathing into it and it meaning a lot to YOU.

 

Enjoy it and have fun. See you next week.

 

 

 

 

 

Hey! Before you go, I always find reviews really helpful when looking for new information or insights…

 

I you’ve found this podcast valuable, please take a minute to write a quick review about what you’ve found most beneficial for you, so other people can benefit from your insights, and listen in too. I would LOVE that!

Also, if there are any topics you’d like me to cover specifically about life coaching or the life coaching industry, visit rhiannonbush.com to contact me. Thanks for joining and I’ll see you in the next episode of Do I Need A Life Coach?!

 

 

Please note, this transcription may not be exact.

Questions? Topic Ideas?

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