I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in blogs and information within the self-development community. In an effort to promote their own paths, some seem more than willing to tear down other self-improvement approaches.
It’s hard for me to imagine how tearing each other down builds anyone up or helps shift people or the world in the best directions.
Someone truly wanting to help people would admit that there are many approaches capable of helping people improve themselves, their life status, and their thinking. Each person should evaluate different options and determine what works best with his or her current situation.
Recently, I’ve read blogs by practicioners of several self-help methodologies just raking affirmations up one side and down the other. The bloggers called them “delusional”, “wasteful”, and “dangerous”.
I’ve seen stinging criticisms blaming affirmations for manifesting a state of denial. These strawman characterizations paint every user of affirmations as an 87-year old woman wanting to be an Olympic athlete or a depressed person trying to create a fictitious happiness. Obviously, anyone using affirmations to accomplish these things is being unrealistic an unwise.
Mostly, people who use affirmations are salespeople wanting to build their skills and confidence to make or exceed quota this month. Which salespeople do you suppose make quota? Those whose minds are filled with thoughts of “I can” or those whose minds are filled with “I can’t” or “I’m not sure if I can.”?
Athletes use affirmations to gain that razor thin margin of victory that having the mental edge can bring. Writers who face a blank page every day to earn a living use affirmations to keep them inspired through rejection letters and writers block. Dancers trying be mentally prepared for that big audition or looking to advance their careers use affirmations.
People use affirmations to stay motivated to exercise, to stay focused on a big reward they are giving themselves for their hard work, or to remain committed to their diets. People use affirmations to counter the volumes of negative information that works its way into their brains every day from mainstream media.
And yes, depressed people, like I once was, use affirmations to pull themselves up out of the hole they find themselves in. It’s easy to criticize from the relative safety of a happy, prosperous life. However, when you’re really down and out all you have is the thought, the hope of a better day.
Are all these people delusional? Have they bought into some destructive ideology of happy thoughts that hold no meaning in reality? Hardly.
I’ve said often in this blog that affirmations are just one tool in your self-development toolkit. Like any methodology they are extremely effective for some people and less so for others. There is no debate, though, that affirmations are very effective at doing one simple, but critical thing. Over time, they replace limiting, negative, and unproductive thoughts with empowering, positive, and productive thoughts.
I’m not sure why affirmations have become the favorite whipping boy for some supposed leaders in the self-development world. Maybe because so many people use them successfully. Maybe because they have a track record of success many other approaches aspire to. Hey, isn’t that kind of positive thinking delusional? :o)
What I do know for sure is that affirmations will keep motivating people to be their best (whatever that is for them at this moment) and aspire to more. Those who want to tear affirmations down should really consider whether that serves their inferred goal of helping others.