The Problem with Verbal Affirmations

Verbal affirmations have been a popular topic involving goal-setting. Language is the most proactive form of communication and people nowadays believe that if you say something enough times, eventually you will condition your mind believe it. The essence of verbal affirmations involves setting a aside a period of the day, say 5 to 10 minutes, reaffirming a goal you have in mind as if it has already happened, and soon your mind will start to adopt belief, making it easier to reach the goal.

But the problem with this method is that aside from this period of time, we are constantly bombarded with other collective thoughts that conflict with our verbal affirmations.

Instead of forcing words out of the mouth to have power, it may be easier to change our external situation so that we are constantly bombarded with affirmations congruent to our goal. This is partially why advertisements make millions of dollars off of people. It works because they surround us everywhere. You can use this modeling the process to your advantage though.

Let’s take a very common example of losing weight. What you can do with verbal affirmations is tell yourself, “I have lost 5 pounds. I have lost 5 pounds. I have lost 5 pounds.” Depending on how strong you affirm these messages, for a brief moment in time, your mind will start to believe that you will have really lost 5 pounds. But there is also a good chance that after you say this and feel good about it, you find yourself walking to the nearest cabinet to eat a bowl of Fruit Loops.

Although you may have said that you have lost 5 pounds, your mind still can be affected by other things that may tell you otherwise. And you’ll constantly find yourself battling between your words and your actions. Verbal affirmations can help, but only to a degree. There are some more effective ways to your goal by conditioning other areas of your day, such as the people you hang out with, the environment you normally stay in, and the body language that you use.

People

Let’s go back to the example of losing weight. If you were a person that was obese, then it might not be the best idea to hang out with other obese people. By doing so, your mind will start telling itself that it’s okay to be obese. When you’re feeling down, you might even get support from others saying stuff like, “Don’t push yourself so hard” or “It’s okay to eat this sometimes; everybody’s human and needs a break.” These are affirmations from people telling you things that would contradict the goal of losing weight, but you would be unconscious of this because what they’re telling you makes you feel good about yourself.

In contrast, if you were a person who is obese, although it may feel uncomfortable, it would be a better idea to hang out with people who are fit (ideally people who are fit and positive). When you’re around them, you will probably get statements like, “Instead of eating this, try this” or “These exercises really help burn calories; you should try them out.” The mere presence of these people along with their support will reaffirm in your mind that this is what you want to look like and will encourage you to take action related to your goal.

Environment

Your environment plays a huge role in how your mind works. If you look around your environment, it may be a representation of your beliefs. Let’s go back to the example of losing weight. Imagine a place where the kitchen counter has stocks of white bread and chips. The inside of the refrigerator has peanut butter, jelly, salsa, butter, and Coke-Cola. The freezer is filled with at least a dozen boxes of microwavable food. This would be a very hard place to lose weight because the environment is telling you, “Eat me.”

Now imagine a kitchen counter with only tangerines. You open the refrigerator and you see bottles of water. Your house consists of tangerines and water. Although this is a slight exaggeration, you wouldn’t even need to verbally give yourself affirmations because the environment is providing it for you already. You would start to lose weight unconsciously.

Body Language

Although there are many other factors that can help affirmations, the last one I’m going to talk about here your body. You’re body language is often a measurement of what you believe. Even the smallest things sometimes matter. For example, how would the body affect an obese person? Well, if a person were to really take the goal seriously, they wouldn’t lie around the coach. They wouldn’t slouch because this can represent a negative attitude. Instead, act as if you were fit.

So the second question is what does a fit person look like? If you’ve ever seen a fit person walk in public, most people don’t walk with lazy or slouching posture. They like to show off their body. They walk straight. They hold their head with confidence. They smile because they are proud of their accomplishments. All of these things from their body language represent who they are inside.

Maybe you’re a person who has read a pop-psychology book that hypes up the importance of verbal affirmations by reading them aloud to yourself every day. Realize that the only way to really test out whether you are truly serious about achieving a goal in mind is to test your beliefs. Verbal affirmations is probably one of the the least effective ways to do this because they are often overridden by other areas that affect your life such as the people you normally hang out with, the environment that you stay in, and the body language that you put out. Change as many factors that you can think of that give you affirmations of what you want to achieve or who you want to be, and you’ll have an a lot easier time naturally developing a belief that, in the end, helps you get there.