Affirmations: Employing God's Gifts
Through accessing the power of words, simple affirmations can serve as valuable spiritual tools.
BY: Maggie Oman Shannon
Like a number of disciplines that have become diluted, even muddied, through the popularity of their practice, the word affirmations can either raise eyebrows or elicit enthusiastic examples of their efficacy. Some stories about affirmations have become part of our modern folklore: the $10 million check for "acting services rendered" that Jim Carrey wrote to himself just years before he made the news for being signed for that exact amount; the discipline of writing daily, "I will become a syndicated cartoonist," by Dilbert creator Scott Adams - with the result that he not only became a syndicated cartoonist but, thanks to enthusiastic merchandising efforts, a millionaire as well.
Affirmations as we know them were brought to the public eye in the nineteenth century through the work of French pharmacist Dr. Emile Coué. In the 1870s, Coué became fascinated by the power of the mind, practicing "mind conditioning therapy" in his free clinic. One of the first and best-known phrases defined as an affirmation comes from Coué: "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better." As that example illustrates, effective affirmations follow similar guidelines: they are focused on a specific goal (such as cartoonist Adams'); they use the present tense ("I love and accept myself"); they are positive and focus on the desired outcome ("I feel wonderful and radiate perfect health"); they are short and easily memorized; and they are repeated out loud or written down several items a day for weeks - often longer.
While affirmations are a proven psychological tool for enhancing success - they are used in combination with visualization by top performers in every field, including business, sports, and entertainment - they do have roots in older, more spiritual arenas. Indeed, as authors Willis Harman and Howard Rheingold wrote in "Higher Creativity," "In institutionalized religions, prayer probably originated as a living exercise in affirmation, but degenerated to a ritual of supplication or penance directed toward some external being. Yet those whose devotion leads them to the true meaning beneath the outer form of their religion's prayers come to realize that it is not an external message system, but a dialogue between self and Self, a channel to the wisest of our inner personalities."