I once spoke to a young woman I know who was struggling to leave a harmful relationship. I asked her to say, “I can support myself.” She burst into tears. She couldn’t say it, and this made her feel awful. So, I asked her if she could instead say, “I can learn to support myself.” She nodded that she could. This new affirmation planted a seed in her psyche — a seed that would grow over time and help her open doors for herself.
I sometimes hear that affirmations do not work. And the people who say that are partially correct. They do not work if you are saying something you do not believe. When we say an affirmation, we may find that it feels right and supportive, or we may find that we don’t believe it and it just feels like empty words. Saying an affirmation that sounds like empty words will not help you. It means there is a belief that is stopping you from connecting with that affirmation.
Affirmations are powerful. They show us what we want, what we dream of, but they also can show us where we do not believe in ourselves. If you can look at the affirmation as something you WANT to believe, you can start moving in that direction. And you can rewrite the affirmation so that it addresses the belief.
So, for example, instead of saying, “I love myself,” when you don’t really feel a sense of self-love, or you are struggling with self-esteem issues, you could take one of Louise Hay’s affirmations: “I have come to this planet to learn to love myself more, and to share that love with all those around me.”
Or let’s suppose you don’t feel safe in the world. Instead of saying, “I feel safe,” you could say, “I intend to know a feeling of safety.”
Perhaps you are struggling with an illness and don’t know if you will ever recover fully. Instead of saying, “I am healthy,” when you just don’t believe it, you could say, “As I focus on happy thoughts, my body heals.”
Maybe you don’t feel like you will ever have the relationship of your dreams. Instead of saying, “I have the relationship of my dreams” (which you don’t have yet and don’t believe), how about saying, “I believe that miracles can happen and that as I ask the universe for what I want, I will be led to the fulfillment of my dreams.”
The person who could not say, “I can support myself” but could say, “I can learn to support myself,” has left her bad relationship. She is supporting herself, has a new love, and is delighted that she was able to open up that affirmation and step into it, creating a new life for herself.
Jennifer Lehr, LMFT
Jennifer Lehr, LMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist. Jennifer’s passion for relational wellness, led her to found WeConcile® - Love Happily Ever After. WeConcile is aneducational journey for couples to take them to greater connection, trust and intimacy.
Jennifer has an extensive background in the visual arts and the creative process. She obtained her master’s degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. She writes to bring clarity to others on self and relational healing. She also runs creativity-based healing groups with a focus on developing intuition and self-understanding.