Affirmations are one of the best methods for manifesting. In my view, affirmations are basically a form of self-talk or verbal communication with the subconscious mind.
In this article, I will give a bit of a unique approach to understanding affirmations by including Émile Coué’s concept of “autosuggestion,” as the understanding of this will enable you to make your affirmations a lot more effective.
First, I will explain what affirmations are, how affirmations are connected with the principle of autosuggestion, and how to make affirmations go into the depths of the subconscious instead of operating on the surface level of consciousness. Then, I will give you a complete walkthrough on how you can start implementing affirmations for whatever it is you want to manifest.
What Are Affirmations
Affirmations are positive, affirmative statements that are consciously repeated to help the individual create a more optimistic mindset, overcome negative thoughts, and manifest desired outcomes in his or her life. They can be considered mental exercises or tools that reprogram the subconscious mind, enabling you to develop new, positive beliefs and attitudes and better external results.
An example of an affirmation could be “I am rich.”
These self-affirming statements are typically short, clear, and expressed in the present tense, but in my experience, they will also work as long, more convoluted sentences.
Also, while it’s beneficial to use the same wording for an affirmation, the most important thing is the meaning behind the affirmation, not the words themselves.
By the use of affirmations, you can gradually replace limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns with more uplifting and empowering ones.
Affirmations can be used to communicate with the subconscious mind, effectively telling it what you want it to do.
Affirmations can be used to target various aspects of life, including personal growth, career success, relationships, health, and well-being. They can be specific, or they can be broad. You can focus on something in particular, or you can just affirm improvement in general. The subconscious mind will take the idea and execute it. If you’re here, you probably have a specific goal you want to be manifested.
The practice of using affirmations dates back centuries and is rooted in various philosophical and spiritual traditions.
Even though manifesting is not scientifically verified, modern research has shown that affirmations can contribute to increased self-esteem, motivation, and overall well-being, as they activate the brain’s reward pathways.
Affirmations, like visualization, is just a particular method you can use to convey an idea in the subconscious mind.
Understanding How Affirmations Work – Affirmations And ”Autosuggestion”
For affirmations to work, they need to become “autosuggestions” in the subconscious mind.
I’m going to draw on the teachings of Émile Coué as I personally have found a lot of success with his techniques and because I believe he explains the process of impressing the subconscious mind in a very approachable way.
For the record, Émile Coué didn’t believe that the subconscious mind also has direct control over circumstances (which you probably do if you’re here). But the method by which we get the subconscious mind to produce a new result is the exact same whether you’re manifesting a change in the external world, or if you’re looking to change a certain quality within yourself, such as more self-esteem or the ability to be more productive throughout the day.
So, let’s first look at the subconscious and the conscious mind and what their roles are.
The Subconscious (or Unconscious) and the Surface Mind
It’s important to understand that there are two distinct and almost separate selves within you; The subconscious mind and the conscious mind.
The individual will is of the surface-level mind. It is the will, the ego, the thing you think you are. We often make the mistake of attributing too much power to it, thinking that the will is the power that enables us to do things. But, make no mistake, when you’re using affirmations, visualization, scripting, etc., nothing will happen if the idea does not penetrate this surface level of the mind.
The power of the subconscious is termed imagination. It’s the imagination you should go to when you want changes in your life. If the will goes against imagination, the idea in the imagination will always overpower the will.
If you make an affirmation saying, ”I am confident,” but the imagination, ”I want to be confident, but I am not” the affirmation is fruitless and produces no result other than a feeling of frustration and powerlessness.
The subconscious mind is a thinker in itself. It can think thoughts that your conscious self may not be aware of. In contrast, the conscious mind cannot think a thought without the subconscious already knowing what the thought is.
The subconscious is both the director of all that goes within you and the external circumstances you are currently living in. In a sense, we are puppets to the ideas that are presently assimilated in the subconscious mind, and the only way to make drastic changes in your life is by impressing new and better ideas on it.
What Is Autosuggestion
To understand affirmations, you need to understand autosuggestion.
Autosuggestion (a concept popularized by French psychologist and pharmacist Émile Coué) is, quote, ”the implanting of an idea in oneself by oneself.” It is the process of getting the subconscious mind to accept an idea we give to it.
As we looked at before, the subconscious mind is basically the grand operator of our lives. By the use of ”induced autosuggestion,” you can consciously choose the idea you want to be implanted in the subconscious, and the subconscious will, by the use of its own intelligence and powers, automatically and beyond the scope of your awareness cause the manifestation of that idea.
”Every idea which enters the conscious mind, if it is accepted by the Unconscious, is transformed by it into a reality and forms henceforth a permanent element in our life.”C. Harry Brooks, The Practice of Autosuggestion, 1922
Coué emphasized the power of imagination over willpower.
The willpower is the conscious mind in action, and imagination is the subconscious mind in action.
Since the subconscious mind is the ”grand operator,” you are pretty much at whim to the ideas of imagination. Any attempt to will an idea into reality is going to be useless if it is going counter to the imagination. When the will is in conflict with imagination, the imagination always wins.
The purpose of the will is to direct the imagination; the will is not the power that holds the idea. Many mistakenly use strong effort in order to give power to an idea. The use of excessive effort presupposes something to be overcome. And as your try and overcome this with even more willpower, the stronger the presupposition becomes. I talk more about the principle of least effort in this article, but it really is something you have to learn intuitively.
So, you need to use minimal effort when you are saying affirmations.
These are two of the most important principles in the use of autosuggestion:
- Every idea which exclusively occupies the mind is transformed into an actual physical or mental state.
- The efforts we make to conquer an idea by exerting the will only serve to make that idea more powerful.
The whole issue of impressing an idea on the subconscious mind is to get the subconscious mind to accept it. Once the idea is accepted, it will automatically be executed without the aid of the conscious mind.
Affirmation And Autosuggestion
So, how do affirmations connect with the principle of autosuggestion? The reason we looked at autosuggestion is that it gives you a basic understanding of the principle by which an affirmation will work.
As said earlier, affirmations are basically just statements that affirm some idea. They force us to think a particular thing. We can use affirmations to give suggestions (or autosuggestions) to the subconscious mind.
To use an example of an affirmation used by Émile Coué, a good affirmation is ”Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” The use of affirmations creates an autosuggestion of improvement in every aspect of your life to the subconscious mind, which subsequently assimilates that idea and begins to execute it totally independently of the actions of the surface-level mind.
Furthermore, affirmations are basically just a way to verbally communicate with the subconscious mind, so you can also just talk to it like you would talk to a friend, without fixating on certain phrases.
How The Subconscious Mind Accepts Affirmations
In order to get the subconscious mind to accept your affirmations, the subconscious needs to be ”in high tide.”
The problem with doing affirmations in a waking alert state is that you basically just bring forth the potential negative ideas associated with the affirmation.
For example, if your mind is filled with ideas of failure and how you are unable to achieve anything, the affirmation ”I am successful” will be powerless and only reinvoke the thought that “I am a failure.” This is because the will is in conflict with imagination, and the imagination always wins. Instead of holding the idea of ”I am successful,” you instead end up holding the idea of ”I am a failure.” Willing the affirmation is useless because it merely brings up the negative associations instead.
So, to avoid these mal-associations from blocking the path, go into a relaxed altered state of consciousness similar to a state you’re in before sleep or when you are daydreaming. This is simply done by closing your eyes, relaxing your muscles, and relaxing your attention, withdrawing it from without.
As you do this, the tide of the subconscious rises, overflowing the mal-associations, allowing for the affirmation to be accepted with more ease.
- When you’re in a regular alert mental state, the tide of the subconscious is low, and the resistance of the associations is high.
- When you are in a relaxed mental state, the tide of the subconscious is high and overflows the resistance of associations.
When the subconscious tide is high, your affirmation will more easily sink into the subconscious; you are able to hold the desired idea without willpower and without having the idea be combatted by an opposing one.
This mental state is the preliminary condition for making your affirmations impress effectively on the subconscious mind.
Putting Affirmations into Practice: A Definite Technique You Can Use
Here is a definite technique for effectively using affirmations.
1. Selecting the right affirmation(s) for your goals
First, choose the thing you want to achieve.
If you want improvement in general, a good affirmation is ”Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” The subconscious mind is intelligent, and the ”in every way” part of the affirmation gives the subconscious mind free range to make improvements in places you may not have consciously thought of.
If your goal is to be more confident in yourself, for example, you could say, ”I am now confident.” If it feels more natural to you, you could also say, ”I am each moment becoming more and more confident,” or ” Confidence is growing stronger within me.”
You don’t HAVE to use the present tense. Saying that the object of attainment ”will happen” (though it’s important to feel that the change is happening NOW) works, and saying that the object of attainment ”has already happened” will also work.
It is however important to avoid affirmations filled with doubt, such as ”I am going to try to…” The affirmation has to be said with a sense of certainty.
The important thing is to focus on the end state. If your goal is to become ”more successful,” you don’t need first to affirm that you are able ”to work hard.” There is no reason to mess with the middle. When the subconscious has accepted the end goal, it will, in its own way, construct the means leading you to the accomplishment of that goal.
It’s always a good idea to use affirmations that don’t feel completely impossible for your current level of faith. For example, saying ”I can fly” will only call up ideas saying ”That’s impossible.”
2. Go Into a Relaxed State
When you know what you want, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
Close your eyes and relax your body. Again, this should be done without effort. You need to get into a state where the conscious mind is relaxed and quiet but where you are not completely unable to direct your attention.
There should be no sense of strain. Rather, it should feel both enjoyable and easy.
3. Priming The Subconscious Mind
A good initial step, before you begin affirming the desire, is to say to the subconscious something like, ”Every affirmation I say while in this state now be deeply rooted in the subconscious mind. The idea will be manifested by the power of the subconscious mind regardless of the thing going on on the surface level.”
This suggestion or affirmation will ”prime” the subconscious to accept and incorporate your subsequent affirmations.
As said, a good affirmation for general improvement is ”Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” It can also be tailored toward a specific end, such as ”I am confident” or ”I am, from this moment on, becoming more and more confident.”
Above all, this process should be both easy and enjoyable. The important thing is to say your affirmation(s) with the minimum amount of effort. As said, the more effort you use, the more you substitute your imagination for willpower.
Immerse yourself in the idea. The key is self-persuasion, to hold the desired idea to the exclusion of all others.
Absorb your attention completely in the idea and feel that you are occupying the desired state. Do this with a minimum of effort. Do not use effort, even if it feels a bit counterintuitive.
It’s really up to you how long you do it. A good method is to say the affirmations twenty times at a slow speed. When you feel you’ve done it enough, say something like, ”This idea is now ingrained in the subconscious mind and will now be manifested on its own terms,” similar to how you initially “primed” the subconscious for suggestions.
Repeat this process every day. Maybe you prefer doing it right before bed, or maybe you prefer doing it in the middle of the day; it really is up to you.
Do not fear failure. You have to practice this. Even if nothing seems to happen, you simply have to keep trying and readjusting. As you get more faith in this, the greater and greater effects you will be able to produce.
How Long Should Affirmations Be?
There really is no rule for how long affirmations should be. As said, affirmations are basically just a form of verbal communication with your subconscious mind, a form of inner speech or self-talk.
It’s really personal preference – do what feels natural to you!
Generally, it’s often helpful if your affirmations are easy to say and sort of lull your conscious mind to rest like a lullaby. For example, a simple one-word affirmation saying ”wealth” will suggest the idea of wealth to the subconscious mind will be easy to say and requires virtually no effort on your part.
On the other hand, longer sentences will also work. You can almost talk to the subconscious and say, ”This is what I want you to do…” and the subconscious mind will actually understand it and do the task you have given it.
Reasons Why Affirmations Fail
These are the three main reasons why people most often fail with affirmations:
1. Excessive effort: If you strenuously say affirmations, you are setting willpower against the imagination. This is because effort presupposes that there is something to be overcome. You are trying to do something while at the same time imagining that you cannot do it.
The more effort you use, the stronger the contrary idea becomes, and it is therefore important to keep the effort to a minimum, even if it feels counterintuitive.
2. Not focusing on the desired idea exclusively: You cannot really hold two thoughts at the same time. When you say an affirmation, such as ”I am able to do this and that,” you need to immerse yourself in this idea without letting your mind dwell on contrary ideas.
This is also emphasized by Neville Goddard; ”You need to permeate your mind with the feeling of the wish fulfilled.”
3. Not relaxing the mind: You need the tide of the subconscious mind to rise to such a degree that your affirmations will impress upon it.
Even if the tide of the subconscious isn’t at its highest, it still needs to be higher than when you are in your alert, waking state of consciousness.
If the tide is too low, an affirmation of your desire will simply just cause all your negative ideas to rise to the surface. Again, you end up holding ideas that oppose what you want.
Additional Resources and Tools
Even though the use of affirmation is something you have to learn from practice, I will still provide you with some extra material you may find helpful.
I highly recommend you read Émile Coué’s book called ”Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion.” It is very short (around 27 pages) and explains all this very clearly. As said, Émile Coué also utilized affirmations when creating autosuggestions in the minds of his clients.
There are also a ton of case studies in the book showing exactly how effective this method is.
- ”Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion” By Émile Coué
If you want even more information on this, I also recommend you read these two books from two students of Émile Coué:
- “The Practice of Autosuggestion” by C. Harry Brooks (100+ pages)
- “Suggestion And Autosuggestion” by Charles Baudouin (300+ pages)
Affirmations are basically a form of verbal communication with the subconscious mind. Affirmations can be short, or they can be long sentences, almost like you are talking to the subconscious.
Remember that the subconscious acts independently of the conscious mind. Once an idea has passed through the conscious mind and is accepted by the subconscious mind, the subconscious mind will automatically begin to execute and manifest the idea both through you and around you.
Go into a relaxed mental state, as this is when the ”tide” of the subconscious is high. Say your affirmations with the least amount of effort. Permeate your mind with the idea implied by the affirmations, almost like you are hypnotizing yourself.
Remember, this technique is, above all else, easy; it should not be difficult.
I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading!