Everyone familiar with affirmations knows that repetition and belief are the two keys to success with them. The reason is that each addresses a separate part of the thought change process. Today, I am going to tackle repetition and I will discuss belief in my next article.
The reason for repetition with affirmations seems obvious. The more you think or speak or hear a thought, the more it sinks into your consciousness. That makes sense.
The repetition aspect of using affirmations is not targeted at your conscious mind. In fact, your conscious mind can be an obstacle to repeating affirmations often enough. After you use an affirmation a few times, your conscious mind is probably self-talking, “OK already, I get it. You can stop.”
Affirmation repetition is targeted to your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind is harder to change than your conscious thoughts. It has a longer memory and clings to concepts more tenaciously. Your subconscious mind works by association. For most people, many of these associations developed in childhood when adult reasoning was not possible.
Whereas your conscious mind analyzes a tiger at the zoo – it’s beautiful, big, a cat, interesting; your subconscious mind tends to do immediate association tiger=scary. That’s why your conscious reaction to something is sometimes overridden by unconscious feelings, emotions, and thoughts that “rise from the depths.”
You cannot just affirm, “I am a smart person,” or “I am a great baseball player,” or “I am healthier every day,” ten times and expect it to really impact your subconscious. That is insufficient to counter long-held and often repeated opposing beliefs about these things.
While your conscious mind may be chiding you the 100th or the 1000th time you use an affirmation, it is just starting to sink into your subconscious. Repetition is the best way to allow subconscious absorption of new, simple ideas. That’s all affirmations are: simple, positive thoughts and ideas designed to replace limiting thoughts and ideas holding you back in life.
In education circles, they call it rote learning. Rote is the way you learned that 8 x 7 = 56. The first few times you did that problem you may have had to write tick marks on paper and count them or count on your fingers. Eventually, through repetition, you learned to immediately recognize 8 x 7 as 56 without thinking.
That’s the goal with affirmations. The difference is that you had no subsconscious notions that told you 8 x 7 was not 56. You accepted it as the truth and you incorporated it. With thoughts and ideas, you are battling against these notions. You’re subconscious might have learned at some point that 8 x 7 = 46 or worse that 8 x 7 absolutely under no circumstances equals 56.
These thoughts might be that, “When I try I always fail,” or “There is no way I can be a success. My parents weren’t successes. No one I know is a success.”
When you approach an opportunity for success these subconscious beliefs either hold you back or sabotage you somehow to reconfirm your belief in the old vision of you. That’s why changing those ideas is so important because that process works in reverse – in your favor – when your beliefs are affirming.
You cannot dislodge these ideas by saying or listening to an affirmation a few times. In fact, that’s why most people fail with affirmations. They stop using them thinking they are not working. You have to soak the ground with the new ideas so their seeds can germinate and grow.
“OK,” you’re thinking, “I get the concept, but if these thoughts are subconscious how can I know the affirmations are making a difference?”Great question. There are a couple of ways you’ll notice the change.
Perceptible improvement – you may notice some perceptible improvement in your perception or performance around the subject of the affirmation or affirmations.
Lightening mood – you may find your general mood lighten or that you feel better or more confident.
Negative self-talk overridden – best of all, you will start noticing your negative self-talk being interrupted and countered by the new positive thoughts on a conscious level. When the subconscious serves up, “You can’t do that,” your self-talk corrects, “Yes, I can.”
How long and how much repetition varies from person to person and situation to situation. Belief, which I will discuss in the next article, accounts for a lot the results we see from the repetition in the real world.
There are two ways for affirmations to access and change your subconscious ideas:
Intentionally -the intentional approach involves consciously saying the affirmation, reading it, or listening to it with the goal of letting it soak in. The main disadvantage to this approach is the conscious mind’s negative self talk blocking full impact.
Passively – passively absorbing affirmations is best accomplished by listening to them. By listening to them over and over while your conscious mind is doing something else, you bypass a lot of the negative self-talk that might deflate the effort.
After repetition, you’ll experience that same feeling you do when you have unconsciously learned the lyrics of a song or the words to a commercial. You’ll find your affirmation “appearing” in your mind and doing their work against against your limiting thoughts.