Why Auto-Suggestion and Affirmations Do Not Work

auto-suggestion and affirmations image

Autosuggestion, or affirmation as it is also known, is not something new. I believe most of us have been aware of it since our teenage years, but have either not really understood it or never used it.

The mind has two parts: the conscious part which does all the thinking, and the subconscious part that absorbs information and uses it to control most of our daily lives. The subconscious solves problems and directs action, so when we (for example) decide to visit somewhere, or cook a meal, we visualise what we want to do and our subconscious takes over, like a guided missile aiming directly towards what we visualised, using the skills and information we already know to get the job done. That is how you can drive somewhere without being conscious of the journey.

Everything you do happens in the mind first. This is fact: you cannot do anything unless you think about it first.  So even though we know that’s how it works, why doesn’t it work when we consciously try to use it to change something?

In order to change something, our subconscious mind needs to be reprogrammed. Although there are several ways to achieve this, the only way that does work (if it is done properly) is auto-suggestion and affirmations.

So why don’t auto-suggestion and affirmations work for most people?

1. Not done often enough

For auto-suggestion or affirmations to work they need to be done several times a day, every day, without fail. They also need to be written down rather than just said out loud or thought in your head.

2. Lack of faith

If you don’t believe it will work, you will send mixed signals to your subconscious mind. It is like telling a friend about a great new thing, but following it up by saying you’re not sure whether it’s actually that good: your friend is not going to take you seriously.

3. Failure to use emotion

Your subconscious mind reacts to emotion more than anything else. Too many people attempt affirmations and just read them out in a monotone voice, expecting the subconscious to wake up and listen. That won’t work, it won’t take a blind bit of notice. Your subconscious does not care about anything unless it makes you feel either good or bad.

4. Too similar to current thinking

The brain stores everything in patterns. For example, whenever it sees a yellow item, it will have a preconceived pattern or template for ‘yellow things’. It will then combine that pattern with other characteristics of the item like smell, feel and taste. These combinations of patterns become incredibly complex, but the brain can still organise them efficiently. This is why it is so difficult to answer correctly when you see the word blue written in green and you are asked to say what colour it is. The brain is wired to categorise everything to make later retrieval as easy as possible.

If the pattern is similar to what your subconscious already knows, it will try to fit it into the old one, or adapt it very slightly for an easier fit. This is how we end up calling our current partner our ex’s name when they do something very similar. It is not because we are thinking of the old partner, it is because our brain is looking for patterns.

5. Do you really want to change it

Any affirmation or auto-suggestion is done based on something you want to change. Unless you really want the change to take place, your subconscious mind will read the mixed messages and deny the change to keep you in your safe zone. The brain is lazy, and it won’t change unless you actively want it to. This is particularly true if you are trying to enact a change in yourself that somebody else wants.

We all use affirmations and auto-suggestion constantly on a daily basis which is proof enough that it works, but when you learn how to use this tool on a conscious level you will realise the immense power it has. The power of auto-suggestion and affirmations can be used for positive and negative outcomes – being aware of this power will give you the ability to achieve virtually anything you want.

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