Sunday, October 21, 2007

Affirmations Are Good For You!

You might think the whole business about "affirmations" these days is one of the ideas generated by those "new-age" folks. But affirmations are at least as old as mankind itself. The only thing new-age about them is the way we react, respond and recover from them.

Affirmations are the things you hear and consider correct, that relate to your worthiness, lovability, intelligence, etc. They are internal (things you tell yourself) and they are external (things others tell you). Affirmations are either spoken or unspoken; as much believability can be ascribed to a behavior as to the voiced interpretation of that behavior. The message you hear may not be the spoken message; you might be reading something else into the spoken message, or you may be combining the spoken message with the unspoken one to create another message entirely, and that is the one you "hear", believe and retain. Affirmations are either positive in nature, or negative.

All of this definition doesn't tell you the most important fact about affirmations...that they can directly affect your mental attitude, and thereby your behavior, over a period of time. Dick Sutphen, in his "Master of Life Manual", discusses the negative thinking we heap upon ourselves in our everyday lives. He says,

"Many people have no idea how frequently they think in a negative manner. If you climb out of bed cursing the alarm clock, grumble your way through breakfast, then dwell on how much you dislike the rain and the traffic during your commute to work, and brood unhappily about your job, and on throughout the day, you are literally creating a worse reality for yourself. Because you are thinking more negative thoughts than positive ones, there is simply no way you can be creating anything but a negative reality. With all that negative programming in your computer, how could it do anything but create the programmed result: more negativity?"

Sometimes, the manner in which we were raised is a clue to the kinds of affirmations we receive. Mixed signals become negative affirmations in the computers that are our minds; so a child raised with words of encouragement, and statements of positive approval, but also with a parental lack of interest in the successes or failures the child encounters, or with disapproving looks and actions for the child's errors and miscalculations becomes a child who believes the negative aspects of the message more than the positive. Think of positive affirmations as lovely, soft feathers, and negative affirmations as wooden croquet balls, you will see that if you are hit with one of each, you will remember the croquet ball much longer.

Sometimes, our environment is at fault; or our acquaintances; or, if our job seems to generate the bulk of our negativity, perhaps we should examine our real feelings about that job. "A sense of oneself as being small can, through physical tension, transform even a tall person into a stooped, slumped, cramped, "small" person. Likewise a sense of strength and power can cause a small person to move with such energy and expansiveness that his or her size becomes irrelevant and may even be unnoticed." (Meir Schneider, "Self Healing; My Life and Vision")

Your feelings about yourself truly determine how you present yourself to the world. We've all known people who were not physically attractive, yet were considered to be great beauties, incredibly handsome, models of human comeliness. They accomplished this feat, not by mass-hypnosis, but by behaving as if they were attractive. Their behavior then influenced the people around them to consider them to be attractive. They could not change how people felt about them, or what people thought of them, but they could change the way they perceived themselves, and thence to influence the way other people responded to the way they perceived themselves.

Nearly 100 years ago, James Allen wrote in "Become the Master of Your Own Destiny", "Out of a clean heart comes a clean life... Out of a defiled mind proceeds a defiled life... Thought is the source of action, life and manifestation; make the source pure, and all will be pure." And Dick Sutphen concurs: "To become a Master of Life means to transform the way you experience your life. In so doing, you learn to let fear and negativity flow through you without affecting you, and to be direct and natural, in balance and harmony. Everyone has the potential to create their own reality, so if you are not happy with the way it is, what (your) mind has created, (your) mind can change (it).

"All of us have been processing affirmations all of our lives. From the moment you were born, messages have been taking root in the garden of your mind and have been flowering there all along. If you now find that your view of yourself is basically a negative one, then the messages you have nurtured all these years have been negative messages. You have only to decide that you want to change those messages, and the reversing process has begun. Of course, you will not change a lifetime of negativity with an hour, or even a day of positive thought. But it will happen.

Imagine a cup full of green-colored water. In order to clear the color of the water in the cup, without discarding it, it is necessary to input far more uncolored water than there is colored water. This will be a long process, but it will eventually prove out. Your negative input is the green-colored water, and the positive you will replace it with is the clear water. If you put in positive enough thought, often enough, over a long enough period of time, the negativity residing within will be forced to vacate.

The positive thoughts are the affirmations you present for absorption to your own mind. What affirmations should you present? How do you know which ones will make a difference? "The measure of an affirmation's success is whether or not it soon manifests in your world. You should be able to manifest almost anything you are affirming with 21 days.", says Marcus Allen, author of "Tantra for the West; A Guide to Personal Freedom". He goes on to say, "There are some exceptions to this, if the project is vast or complicated, or the goal is distant. But the results should become clearly evident to you in a short time. You should be able to feel the change. If the results aren't happening, it is only because you are affirming something else on deeper, perhaps less conscious, level which is creating something contradictory to what you are affirming consciously.

"Mr. Allen describes an affirmation worksheet that can be used to rid your mind of the negative aspects that your affirmation seems to give birth to. His book is, of course, the best source of information on the process, but to summarize the program, open a notebook so you have a clean sheet on either side. On one side you will write the positive affirmation, on the other side write the thoughts that pop into your mind that seem to resist the affirmation. For instance, if you affirm, "I am a unique individual", and your mind thinks "Weird is more like it!", both of those thoughts should be on the pages.

You are instructed to continue writing the positive thought on the one side, and keep writing whatever negative or resisting thoughts occur in your mind on the other. The negative page will be a true representation of the kinds of thoughts you must remove, in order for the positive thought to remain unchallenged. Sometimes, just seeing those negative ideas written down will help you to see their foolishness or inappropriateness. Some will dissolve as soon as you see them, as you write them. Others will be more deeply ingrained into your unconscious, and may require other, less sweeping, affirmations that attack that particular thought.

Chris Griscom, whose healing work was featured in Shirley MacLaine's "Dancing in the Light", concentrates on healing the emotional body in her book "Ecstasy Is a New Frequency: Teachings of the Light Institute". "We know scientifically that the mind does control the body. We can slow down our heartbeat. We can change almost anything.", Chris writes.

"I want to change, but I don't know how. I don't know where to start." If that's your complaint, try this exercise. Write down every negative thing you hear your mind say to you about yourself. This may take a while, but you will have a picture of the programming that currently exists in your computer. It is a verbal x-ray of your mind. You have before you a list of the things that need to be changed, the inappropriate thought sequence, the reason you feel less than exuberant about yourself. From this list of negatives, you can create a list of positives. No matter if you don't believe them at first. You probably didn't believe the negative thoughts the first few times you heard them, but repetition seems to carry acceptance on it's back. So, all you need to do is repeat the positives over and over, until the acceptance it carries comes to you.

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