When you search the Internet for information on how to create affirmations you find that there is an overwhelming predisposition to phrasing affirmations in the first person – that is using I, me, my, or mine in the affirmations.
There is a good reason for it. Traditionally, affirmations were used by people a narrow subset of the population – people in recovery, super salespeople, or elite athletes. The formula preached by the affirmation gurus who worked with these groups was to write your affirmations in the first-person and sit in front of the mirror (Stuart Smalley style) and repeat your affirmations until – by sheer will – you believed them.
No one can deny that many people used this technique to great effect. The fact is, however, that most people are too busy or find performing this ritual kind of cheesy. The parody created by the Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live, in my opinion, only served to make affirmations “nerdy” and cause people who could use them to shy away.
Today people who want to change their habits, reshape their thinking, or condition their minds for success get their affirmations by listening. My own 15-plus year experiment with affirmations has found that repeated listening (both with intent and passively) is every bit as effective as the mirror talk.
Listening to affirmations provides the added benefit of being able to augment first-person affirmations with second-person affirmations – affirmations using you or your. The importance of adding ‘you’ to affirmations is that it allows you to tap into one of the greatest powers of affirmations – thought substitution. Thought substitution is a process by which you replace an existing negative thought or belief with a positive one. It is one of the most important benefits of using affirmations.
Most of the negative self-talk you seek to overcome with affirmations originated from outside of you. Other people planted the thoughts and you internalized them and made them part of your thinking. These thoughts are almost always phrased (even in your own mind) using ‘you’ because that is how you originally absorbed them.
For instance, your mother said, “You are so stupid,” when you were 10 years old. For whatever reason, you internalized that thought. Over the years, whenever you mess up you hear the phrase, “You are so stupid,” in your mind.
So, using this example, you create a first-person affirmation that says, “I am smart,” to counter the old thought. The affirmation will be somewhat effective in countering the old thought, but it will not replace it. Oddly enough, there is something about the thought substitution process that requires a one-for-one switch for maximum effectiveness.
The “I am smart” affirmation plays a role in affirming our own belief in our intelligence. However, the old thought, “You are so stupid,” is still floating around in your mind and you wind up with two conflicting beliefs.
What I have found resolves this situation is to complement the first-person affirmation with a second-person version that can – with repetition – actually replace the old thought. The most effective means is to listen to or repeat the affirmation in the first-person affirmation several times and follow it with the affirmation in the second-person several times.
The result is that you are simultaneously planting a new internal thought, “I am smart,” and replacing the old external thought with a substitute thought coming from the outside that confirms, “You are smart.”
Try adding the power of ‘you’ to your affirmations!