1. The action or process of affirming something.
2. An affirmation of basic human values
3. Law a formal declaration by a person who declines to take an oath.
4. Emotional support or encouragement: the lack of one or both parents’ affirmation leaves some children emotionally crippled
So we can see that it has various meanings but it’s the last definition that interests me, especially since I’ve been on my Pagan path. That of encouragement, and not only that but something that strengthens that encouragement in a positively strengthening way as can be seen from the origin of the word:
Late Middle English: from Latin affirmatio(n-), from the verb affirmare (see affirm) Middle English (in the sense ‘make firm’): via Old French from Latin affirmare, from ad-‘to’ + firmus ‘strong’.
My formative years were traumatic and I learnt to think and believe in a certain way through constant negative reinforcement. It was not surprising that by the time I entered adulthood I was beset by extremely low self esteem, no confidence in myself and a serious inability to trust. Of course these caused me no end of trouble and a pretty miserable life.
Then I stumbled upon affirmations by reading something by Louise Hay. I tried it out, repeating the affirmations religiously each morning whilst looking at myself in the mirror – as per her instructions. After a few weeks of doing this I wondered why nothing had changed and so gave up. Then I realised that something was missing. I didn’t believe the affirmations for one thing, not truly deep down, and I only said them once a day. What good is that?
Then, in 1994, I began my pagan spiritual path and gradually learnt about energy, perception, perspective, mindfulness, magic and a whole plethora of other very useful and mind expanding things. I realised that affirmations written by someone else are all well and good but they’re even better if you write them yourself and ritualise them in some small way.
It is VERY important when changing ones negative thought patterns to replace them. It’s also important to remember that those negative thought patterns have become deeply entrenched in your psyche over many years, so you’re not going to just change them over night. A few repetitions of a good affirmation is not going to bring about lasting change. It’s going to take time and continuous repetition of the affirmation and bending one’s energy towards a healthy way of thinking rather than an unhealthy way. I tend to think of negative thought patterns as deep ruts in a muddy field, so deep that it’s hard to walk across them. The only way to walk them is to walk IN them, which makes those muddy ruts deeper and deeper until they become practically inescapable.
But the truth is they ARE escapable – one CAN replace those old, worn out lies and negative thought patterns with something good and healthy. That is a TRUTH but it takes hard work!
So, how do you make affirmations work for you? Well the first thing to do is to decide on what kind of affirmation you want to use. Let’s use an example from one of my own. Stress is one of the things I always seem to be working on. So I want to write an affirmation for stress, or rather less stress.
I could write it this way…Today I am feeling no stress, or, I am not stressed.
What’s wrong with those two affirmations? Well if you look closely they both have negative words in them – no and not.
The trick to writing affirmations is to only use positive language and leave out any negative words (words such as no, not, shall not, will not etc). Leave out what you’re trying to get rid of and replace it with the opposite.
This means rewording this affirmation…Today I feel calm and peaceful…that’s better.
Another tip is to ALWAYS write in the present tense. So don’t write…Today I will be calm and peaceful. Instead write it like you are already calm and peaceful…I AM CALM AND PEACEFUL. Don’t write affirmations that are too long, you want to be able to remember it and repeat it throughout the day…simple is better!
Once you’ve written your affirmation, it’s no good saying it once hurriedly over your morning cup of coffee as you prepare to rush out of the house. You want to overcome those negative thought patterns yes? So give this some time and the respect YOU deserve in overcoming them. Don’t rush. Take 10 minutes and do a little ritual. By doing this you will be imbuing your affirmation with positive energy, you will be letting the Universe know that this is important to you and it will reciprocate by supporting your endeavours. Believe me it will!
Your choice of ritual can be anything you like but I’d keep it simple if I were you. What I personally do is light a candle and some incense. I write my affirmation on a piece of nice paper with a special pen (pick one you like to use if you don’t have a special pen). Then I repeat my affirmation slowly three times. I allow the words to sink into my mind, feeling them seep into my mind and body. On the third repetition of the affirmation I burn the piece of paper in the candle flame. This is so my words can go up into the Universe and join with the universal energy. The Universe knows what I need, what I desire and is going to support me. If you want to burn incense then good ones to choose are Cinnamon, Allspice or Frankincense, or even a mixture of all three. These are all good spices/herbs/resins for spirituality and success, plus they smell so good.
After that you can carry on with your day but repeat that affirmation throughout. Keep saying it….again….and again….and again.
Remember it took a long time of negative reinforcement for you to think unhealthily, so you’re going to have to be equally determined and firm to replace those thoughts with positive ones. That brings me back to the original source of the word Affirmation – in effect to stand firm! Stand firm in positive thinking and allowing these new ways to sink into your mind and psyche. Most importantly DON’T GIVE UP! You CAN do it!