When the Law of Attraction got popular, I became an affirmation junkie. After all, if I just constantly thought about, talked about and visualized all of my greatest desires, I would manifest them and make my dreams a reality. Right?
That's what I thought for years. I used affirmations for money, relationships and my life purpose. I'd stand in the mirror and say: I have a million dollars in my bank account ... I have a sexy, loving partner ... I have a New York Times best-selling book that is changing the world.
Sure, hearing and believing those affirmations felt good, really good, for a couple of seconds while standing in the mirror. But after the high of my visualizations wore off, I was back to my world. And I was most often met with dissatisfaction and pain.
Affirmations may work for some people, and more power to them. But if you feel like you're the only person out there who isn't feeling the power of affirmations, don't get down on yourself. There's something else out there that will resonate with you.
Here are my three reasons for quitting affirmations, and what I now do instead to tap into the power of manifestation.
1. I used affirmations to distract myself from feeling painful emotions
My affirmations were just a distraction from the dissatisfaction I was feeling in my life. I used affirmations to hide from fear, feelings of not being good enough, sadness and a lot of anger. I used affirmations to hide those emotions that I learned were not pretty, and replace them with more socially acceptable emotions.
I thought the affirmations would make my dissatisfaction go away, but the darker feelings just kept growing underneath layers of "positive thinking." Sure, the positive thoughts were there, but so were the negative ones, and they were being sublimated rather than honored.
2. My affirmations were perpetuating the "I'm not good enough" story
Growing up, I often felt like I had to be someone other than who I was to be good enough. I spent years trying to become the perfect person so people would hear, love and accept me.
Hiding my true sensibility and my true emotions were very painful habits. One day, I realized my affirmation practice had the same goal: to hide unacceptable parts of me.
If I was feeling sad or angry, I was quick to get in the mirror and try to affirm myself. I would pressure myself to look for the positive in my day with the specific purpose of making the pain go away. Ironically, affirmations made me feel like I couldn't accept things I felt were negative, which made my negative feelings about myself spiral further out of control.
Forcing myself to be something that I wasn't didn't feel good growing up, and it still didn't feel good with my affirmation practice.
3. I used affirmations as a way to fight with myself
As I stood in the mirror going through my affirmation routine, I always heard a little voice in the back of my head that would respond to each affirmation with doubt.
If I was trying to visualize my millions of dollars, I'd think, Um, have you looked at your bank account lately? You're broke! If I tried to meditate on my sexy, loving partner, my mind would rebel: Excuse me! You're not that good looking and you're going to be alone forever.
Perhaps it was the specificity and powerful language of my affirmations that invited me to start a vicious inner dialogue. It was like a battle between good and evil. I would fight hard to silence the "negative" voice to allow the "positive" voice to prevail.
But ultimately, I came out of my affirmations hurt and weary from the battle with myself. I realized that trying to replace my "bad" thoughts with "good" thoughts was ultimately encouraging me to dwell more on the negative. It was a practice that was killing me inside.
What I Do Instead
I quit affirmations because I realized that my negative thoughts weren't trying to sabotage my life by manifesting negativity. They were just parts of me that had learned the story that I wasn't good enough. These thoughts just needed love and compassion, instead of force-fed affirmations.
I now use a process that I call "Parts Work." First, I identify the parts of me that have learned the "I'm not good enough" story in various ways. Then, instead of trying to make them go away with affirmations, I hold space for the stories they have held onto and give them love, making myself feel held and supported, rather than criticized and rejected. Even the parts of me and those feelings I don't like.
This simple practice allows me to be myself and experience all feelings in every moment. I accept my sadness just as much as I accept my happiness. I allow my anger to be present in my relationships, but in a supervised way.
Instead of trying to convince my jealous and competitive part of me that everything in my life is abundant or that I have millions in the bank, I simply accept that I am feeling jealous. And that acceptance allows me to nurture this part of myself, and helps me to investigate the story that might be limiting me.