Unrealistic Affirmations

cp.gifThe affirmations a person uses depend on many factors. What is the person trying to accomplish? Where is he or she now in relation to that goal or dream? What is their belief factor? Is he or she aspiring to something big or just looking for incremental improvement?

One of the biggest knocks critics have against affirmations is that they encourage unrealistic thinking.

It is ridiculous, they say, to encourage a sixth grader who can barely play “Hot Crossed Buns” on the saxophone to use an affirmation like, “I am a world-class saxophone player”. That’s just delusional, they argue, to have a child believing something so out of touch with reality.

I absolutely agree!

“What,” you say, “I thought you were in the business of promoting affirmations and encouraging others to follow their dreams?” I am. And, I still agree with those critics. Oh, I believe emphatically that affirmations are for everyone, but I do not believe every affirmation is for every person.

Yes. The critics are correct. This affirmation is completely unrealistic for any sixth grader who believes it is unrealistic.

They are also correct that a smart sixth grader is probably going to doubt the affirmation at some point. Sooner or later the sixth grader using this affirmation may have the thought, “I can’t even play ‘Hot Crossed Buns’. I’m not a world class saxophone player.”

These two pieces of information do not match up. The sixth grader, like most human beings, will search for a way to make the ideas congruent. When this happens it is decision time for the sixth grader and his or her dream of being a world-class saxophonist.

Whether they know it or not the critics are citing and the sixth grader is experiencing a well-known psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance.

This theory states that when we hold two incongruent pieces of knowledge in our minds there is a very strong psychological impulse to bring the two conflicting thoughts into agreement.

The idea being that our sixth grader cannot hold the thought, “I can’t even play ‘Hot Crossed Buns’,” in his or her mind while at the same time holding the idea, “I am a world class saxophone player.”

The classic example is the mother on the news who cannot reconcile the baby she brought into the world with the possibility that he may have committed a crime. So, she believes in his innocence even against overwhelming evidence.

Now, here is where the critics’ logic fails. They assume, I suppose, that the only option for this newly self-aware sixth grader is to stop using this unrealistic affirmation and stop pursuing such lofty and unrealistic dreams. Basically, “Give it up, kid, there’s no chance.”

The cognitive dissonance theorists tell us that there are actually three options (besides “getting real”) open to resolve this dilemma.

  1. Change beliefs – the sixth grader can change one or both beliefs to be more in line. “I know I’m not a world-class saxophonist right now, but I can be someday.” He or she admits the first fact and changes the condition for the second to bring them into congruence.
  2. Adding beliefs – the sixth grader can think, “It’s true I cannot play “Hot Crossed Buns”. It’s true that I’m not a world-class sax player right now.” “It’s also true that Charlie Parker was not a world-class saxophone player in the sixth grade and look what he accomplished.”
  3. Alter the importance of the beliefs – the sixth grader can think, “It doesn’t matter that I can’t play “Hot Crossed Buns” right now. I will be able to some day. I still have it in me to be a world-class saxophone player.” He or she chooses to diminish the importance of the current state and focus, instead, on the future possibility.

Part of the confusion, candidly, comes from affirmation gurus who promote the idea that your affirmations must be adhered to with unshakable belief to make a difference. Doubting – the cardinal sin of affirmationdom – must never be allowed to rise or else the magic potion will be spoiled.

People are people. Some days we believe in our dreams fervently and other days we completely lose sight of them. That’s not being negative that’s just being human. The path is not lost by one moment of doubt.

This affirmation may or may not be appropriate for the sixth grader in question. It depends on how he or she resolves the cognitive dissonance associated with it.

If he or she cannot come to terms with the disparity, then an affirmation like “I am becoming a world class saxophone player” or “I am a better saxophone player every day” may be more acceptable and reduce the cognitive dissonance.

Conversely, the previous affirmation is ideal for a college student majoring in music performance on the saxophone. That person has already put in many years and is now an expert on the instrument. He or she may be planning a career playing the saxophone. That college student certainly can realistically aspire to becoming a world-class sax player.

Here is what I have learned from more than 17 years experience working with affirmations. There really are two classes of affirmations – aspirational and incremental.

Aspirational affirmations are your “big thinking” affirmations. They are the ones that remind you that something far greater than right now lies within you. That knowing is not for anyone to label as delusional or unrealistic. It depends on you and your belief.

Incremental affirmations are affirmations that are more finely tuned. They focus on specifics and immediate steps. They are the trees to the aspirational affirmations’ forest.

In my view, they are both part of a healthy affirmation diet. Just like protein and calcium serve two different but beneficial roles in the body. Both kinds of affirmations add value to your over all growth. One is today’s weather forecast and the other is the long range forecast.

Let me illustrate the difference with a couple examples.

A high school quarterback with big dreams might use both of the following affirmations:

Aspirational: “I am the next John Elway.”
Incremental: “My completion percentage is improving each and every game.”

A person trying to climb out of depression might use both of the following affirmations:

Aspirational: “I am completely happy with all aspects of my life.”
Incremental: “Today I am putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.”

A person focusing on creating a better financial future might use both of the following affirmations:

Aspirational: “My million dollar idea is on its way to me right now.”
Incremental: “Today I am paying my bills on time.”


It’s not about being unrealistic. It’s about using the very real power of your thoughts to support your immediate goals and your long term dreams.

So, if you are a sixth grade saxophone player with a passion to be the world’s greatest saxophonist, I say go for it! One thing is for sure. None of your critics will be there to beat you out!

Be peaceful Be prosperous!

Ray

Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot and focuses on empowering minds to think positively, achieve goals, and live dreams.He’s spent the past 21 years in sales and sales training for major companies.

anunnaki_cover_full_colorRay’s 2015 speculative fiction novel, Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation, is turning heads. Where did humanity really come from and where is it going? This is Book 1 of a trilogy. The Awakening has begun!

Learn more about the trilogy and order your signed copy today at AATrilogy.com.

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The Freedom to Think for Yourself

Today’s affirmation is:
I empower myself to think for myself.

the_thinker.jpgWhen I hear the positive thinking gurus – many of whom I hold in high esteem – speak on their topic, they often ignore a fundamental component of positive, empowered thinking. That component is freedom.

Sometimes, in the rush to tie positive thinking to tangible benefits, they can sound like the NASA administrator trying convince Congress of the economic impacts of the space program rather than just selling the space program on its own merits.

 

These gurus promise health, wealth, and happiness in return for your efforts.The result of positive, empowered thinking might, indeed, be that you are healthier, happier, or wealthier, but the real benefit is that you are a free, empowered person.

Has it ever occurred to you that positive thinking is a freedom issue? What could be more inhibiting or more freeing than the ability to command your own thought processes and use them to build the life you want?

 

The power to think for oneself has been among the fundamental battles of humankind from the beginning. Since time immemorial rulers, religious bodies, or “the group” have sought to limit the power of the individual to think his or her own thoughts.

Even in a nation that supposedly values freedom, we demonstrate a profound unwillingness to allow others to think freely. The pressure is to conform; to join the herd even as it runs off the cliff.  We saw the ugly side of that a few years ago when the war was new. Reporters, professors, celebrities, and ordinary citizens were ostracized for not thinking like the herd.

Children too young to know what they were doing stood in the street stomping and burning Dixie Chicks CDs at the behest of their freedom-loving parents. An ugly spectacle to be sure, but the result of disempowered thinking masquerading as something noble – patriotism. Patriotism is a love of country not a hatred of freedom to think and to speak.

The herd was uneasy and frightened. Free expression was unacceptable. We needed to unify and think alike. The herd did not take kindly to its leader being criticized by mere citizens. Even though mere citizens, thinking and living freely, is the foundation of this country.

The empowered, positive-thinker overrides the herd’s external chatter. He or she focuses on creating the thoughts, words, and actions that best suits his or her needs. In short, these people have the power to create life rather than react to it.

Positive thinking is not only free thinking, but also clear-headed thinking. Positive thinkers are better able to look at situations objectively and see various sides. They are able to use their full capacity to reason, to feel, to draw on experience and make better judgments.

Negative thinking, which is really synonymous with not having command of your own thoughts, is extremely disempowering – even debilitating. Why? Think about when a negative thought comes to mind. The emotions and feelings associated with the thought start to rise. Who is in control at that moment; you or the negative thought? Raw emotions rule and reason and experience are dismissed as impractical.

The fact is that people who think for themselves (i.e. positive, empowered people) are independent, capable individuals who can achieve just about anything. People who allow societal norms or other people to do their thinking for them (i.e. negative thinkers) quickly become dependent and unable to move forward in their lives; and, sometimes, unable to resist book burning.

The principle of positive, empowered thinking can be applied to any area of your life. If you want to be a better football player, is thinking positively or negatively about your skills more likely to get you there? How about being a better spouse or a better sales person or a more committed activist, or a more compassionate person?

Clearly, the ability to develop, manage, and maintain your own thinking tends towards greater personal freedom. That freedom is the basis on which all achievement is possible.

One of your greatest challenges in life is to break free from the herd. Most people never do it. Successful people always have. Yet, now more than ever, we need a population tired of the world as it is and pushed forward by visions of the world as it can be. The future of our freedoms relies on our ability to become aware, empowered, and free thinking people.

 

Some closing quotes to start you thinking…


jfk.jpg“Too often we…enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
~ John F. Kennedy




ralph_waldo_emerson.jpg
“A sect or a party is an eleggant incognito to save a man from the vexation of thinking.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson




buckminster_fuller1.jpg“Belief is when someone else does the thinking”
~ Buckminster Fuller







Be peaceful Be prosperous

Ray

Ray Davis is the author of Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation – order your signed copy today at AATrilogy.com – founder of The Affirmation Spot and an advocate for the potential of the human race. He’s life-long history buff and holds a B.S. in History Education. He’s always been fascinated by alternative views of history.

anunnaki_cover_full_colorAnunnaki Awakening: Revelation is turning heads and opening minds. Humanity’s past is checkered, secret, and dangerous.

White House Correspondent Maria Love is on to the story of her life and with the help of an Anunnaki leaders seeks to unravel and reveal history’s biggest conspiracy. The Awakening has begun!

Making the Most of Each Day – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday January 2, 2008

Today’s affirmation is:

“I make each day a unique and special time in my life.”

solar_system2.jpgOur lives are about more than our jobs, our roles, our tasks, and our responsibilities. Each day of our existence has some unique place the tapestry that makes up our lives. If we’re not careful, we may just miss the meaning.

It’s easy for days to slip by in our lives without us taking notice. Giving each day a special meaning is one way to keep that from happening.

Over the years, I’ve used a number of strategies to add meaning to each day. My favorite is to assign a positive attribute to each day of the week. This is not necessarily a novel idea. In the western world, the days of the week are generally named for the known celestial bodies and the god associated with that object. 

In English Sunday is Sun-day. Monday is Moon-day. In French, Mardi (Tuesday) is Mars-day, Mercredi (Wednesday) is Mercury-day, and Jeudi (Thursday) is a translation of the Latin Jovis (Jupiter) or Jupiter-day. Saturday in English, obviously, is Saturn’s Day.

You can do something similar to add meaning to each day of your week. Try associating a positive emotion, attribute, or thought for each day. As the week’s cycle through, you will find that you look forward to focusing on the meaning of each day. The theme for each day becomes your own private meditation for the day.

You can associate anything you want with each day. The goal is to embody or focus on that attribute as you go through the day. The concepts should resonate with you and your life, but here is an example to give you some ideas.

  1. Sunday – theme your Sundays as “rebirth”. Since Sunday is generally viewed as the first day of the week it makes sense to use it to focus on something like rebirth. It is wonderful to have the opportunity start fresh every so often. Once a week is perfect.
  2. Monday – try theming Mondays as “happiness”. Monday is a depressing day for many people because it is the first day of the work week. Try countering the negative connotation by focusing on happiness all day.
  3. Tuesday – try theming Tuesdays as “peace.” Tuesday as the second day of the week.
  4. Wednesday – try theming Wednesdays as “overcoming”. Wednesday is often viewed as the middle of week – “hump day”. Capitalize on that idea by focusing on overcoming obstacles and challenges on Wednesday.
  5. Thursday – try theming Thursday as “faith” or “belief”. You may focus on your religious and spiritual beliefs or belief in your abilities or your future. Giving one day a week to this topic keeps you grounded in what is important to you.
  6. Friday – try theming Friday as “development”. We always need to be moving ahead in our lives. Having one day a week where we focus on our development can help.
  7. Saturday – try theming Saturday as “completion”. Since Saturday is the last day of the week it is ideal for highlighting the idea of finishing tasks or bringing aspects of our life to completion.

Other possible themes include hope, forgivness, relaxation, joy, frugality, learning, or love. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination.

Coincidentally, there are seven days of the week and seven colors in the rainbow. You might alos try associating a color with each day/positive emotion to create additional significance. 

Create calendars (regular or cyclical) that detail your themed days of the week. As the weeks pass, you begin to look forward to your “day of peace” on Sunday or your “day of take it slow” on Saturday. Try writing a more detailed descriptions of what each day means to you and how it contributes to your life.

Be creative and have fun with it. Maybe you make every Monday “laughing day”. You learn to laugh at yourself and others for taking life so seriously.

Most importantly, you will add significance to each grain of sand slipping through your 2008 hour glass. By the end of the year, you may find your life has more meaning.

Happy New Year. Thank you to each and every one of you who reads this blog, downloads affirmations, or takes a moment to write a kind word about what we are trying to accomplish at The Affirmation Spot.

Be peaceful Be prosperous.

Ray 

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An Affirmation for 2008 – The Affirmation Spot for December 26, 2007

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As Christmas passes, our focus begins to move towards the new year. 2008 holds potential for anything at this point. There is not yet one fingerprint on its possibility.

Today’s affirmation is:

“Who I am is not for sale at any price! I am brilliant and beautiful and a best friend to everyone who knows me. I am peaceful and happy and more successful than ever before. I am relaxed and confident and trading in my old fears on new hopes.

2008 is going to be a wonderful year for me; a year of breakthrough, options, and opportunities for new paths to follow. I am excited and ready for the challenges and the triumphs that lie ahead.

No, my self-worth, my happiness, my freedom, my unbounded optimism about what is ahead is not for sale at any price!”

earthyear.gif

As another journey around our home star begins in the next few days, begin visualizing 2008 as your big year.

Read this affirmation to yourself a few times today. Begin envisioning the new year as you’d like to see it right now. As the door of 2007 begins to swing shut, the window that is 2008 is opening.

Every possibility, every option, every hope, dream, and goal are back on the table.

Be peaceful Be prosperous

Ray
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