“I am” or positive affirmations don’t really work. If they did most of the people who have read self-help books would have become superheroes by now. In fact one of the biggest complaints I hear from new clients and students is affirmations simply do not work. The funniest comment was they couldn’t even manifest the twenty dollars they paid for a book on manifesting desires. They naturally want to know why affirmations don’t work and if there is something else they should do or say instead. In this article I’ll explain the reasons why affirmations, as they are being taught, don’t work and which alternate practices may bring about the desired results.

Understanding the Process and Setting the Ground Rules

To affirm means to state as fact or believe something to be true. And here lies the key problem and we’ll get to it. Also affirmations are an internal process only. They do not relate to other people or your work or living environment. They are strictly about your mental, physical and emotional state. They are about your personal belief of yourself.

Internal Conflict and Lack of Alignment

Let’s focus on one of the most popular affirmations that’s about attractiveness and beauty. If you already believe that real beauty is dictated by the mainstream media and you don’t fit that definition, then it doesn’t matter how many times you repeat to yourself “I am beautiful,” you will not accept that statement. Due to strong conditioning instilled in you, your mind already has a definite image of acceptable beauty. If you focus on things that are not aligned with who you are, it would create an internal conflict and bring about the opposite result. Affirmations don’t work, due to lack of alignment between your current beliefs and your hopes and wishes.

How to Realign Yourself

Your dreams and aspirations repeated in affirmations must sync with the image you have of yourself. Hence, if you believe that your version of beauty is as valid as the one being promoted by the media, then by repeating the affirmation “I am beautiful” you’ll certainly and successfully reinforce that thought and feeling in yourself.

Does Repetition Work?

The short answer is a conditional yes. Repetition certainly works where muscle memory is concerned such as in sports, military drills, playing music or job training. However, the rules are different for emotional or mental achievements. Here alignment is key. If your sense of reality and your affirmations do not line up they will produce undesired results. They may also create a deeper sense of conflict or depression.

Alternatives to “I Am” Affirmations

There are times when your mind will flatly reject your affirmations, because they are not in line with your current beliefs. Here’s another very popular affirmation that’s about money and success. If you are broke and keep saying to yourself “I am wealthy,” the message will not click with your mind. No part of you believes that statement. This will only create an internal conflict, which will cause undesired negative results. Try this instead. But first don’t be vague. Words like “wealth” or “rich” don’t mean anything without actual numbers attached to them. Try to set a goal for yourself. For example, let’s pick ten thousand dollars (feel free to make it any amount). Instead of saying “I am rich,” repeat, “ten thousand dollars is on its way to me.” Or “I am manifesting ten thousand dollars in my life.”

You could also say, I have the power within me to be confident, successful or beautiful. Here’s another alternate saying that might work better for you. Create an internal dialog about how you have successfully came through tough situations before and they made you smarter and stronger and the current crises is no different. Feel free to use these examples on other types of manifestations.

How to Make Affirmations Work

1. Affirmations could work if there is an internal alignment between your aspirations and your current beliefs.

2. Try to repeat affirmations with conviction.

3. Start by setting realistic goals. Begin with simple steps. When you have managed to manifest those, then expand the visions for greater results.

4. Make certain about internal alignment and avoid the pitfall of unrealistic wishes.

5. Don’t be vague. If at all possible assign a value to your goal to make it more comprehensible.

6. Sometimes it’s best to examine your mental and behavioral conditioning before attempting at affirmations about things you may not really need or don’t believe in. Analyze your wish to see if you really want it, or do you desire it simply because you’ve been told to do so by the media or peer pressure.

7. In addition to affirmations and internal sayings, you should also try to envision and imagine yourself achieving that goal. See yourself living your dream. Train your mind to accept you as the new person you are becoming or hope to become.

Happy Manifesting.

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  • Shahram Shiva

    Shahram Shiva is an author, writer, poet, recording artist and award-winning translator of Rumi. He is teacher of advanced spirituality and ascension.

    Shahram Shiva is an author, writer, poet, recording artist and award-winning translator and scholar of Rumi.

    He is the founder of Rumi Network and one of the original translators and popularizers of Rumi. Shahram Shiva's Rumi interpretations are quoted and referred to in about 300 books in English and other languages.

    He is a teacher of advanced spirituality (aka ascension). He is known for rich and entrancing concerts and performances, captivating talks and powerful experiential workshops.

    Shahram Shiva's teachings are on the future of spirituality, consciousness expansion, vision manifestation, enlightenment, ascension and self-realization.

    Shahram Shiva's newest books are 12 Secret Laws of Self-Realization and Rumi's Untold Story. His last album to date is Love Evolve.