First, I’m not claiming they don’t work; I’m simply pointing out a problem with the common use of positive affirmations – albeit a big one.
Positive affirmations only work if the person using them believes the presuppositions in their pledge. But the same is true for any other mantra. And while repetition is a good method to internalize a belief, that alone is often insufficient to solidify a conviction.
The use of positive affirmations should be a mere starting point in the process of building self-confidence. When constructing the idea of self-esteem and other deep-seated personal attributes, the changes must occur in the person’s subconscious.
Simple repetition, instead, targets the conscious or critical part of your mind, which, as we all know, is fond of asking too many questions.
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What Should Replace Positive Affirmations?
This question came up in a conversation with a friend who understands the power of mindfulness meditation and often uses it to deal with her bouts of anxiety.
The point isn’t to completely replace affirmations.
However, it’s important to relegate them to their optimal role as triggers for more beneficial psychological and emotional states.
Affirmations can work as reminders for the brain to recall positive psychological anchors that, in turn, start positive subconscious processes.
How Do We Make Positive Subconscious Changes?
Expectations are everything.
There is no single answer to this question, but there are universal behaviour and belief modification rules. A safe way to start changing someone’s perception is to question or challenge the presuppositions they hold about themselves.
Please understand that the idea of changing someone’s internal dialogue is a complicated one, and as coaches, we should focus on the beliefs that interfere with our athletes’ performance in the gym.
For example, if an athlete claims they aren’t fast enough, we should ask why they think that and discuss how to change that in the gym.
Ask them questions directly.
Why do you say you’re not fast enough? And how can we make you faster?
Direct lines of inquiry lead the mind to think about the problem differently and open the athlete up to the possibility of a solution.
Experiment with positive questions about existing presuppositions and assumptions to get to the root of the problem and establish more optimistic expectations.
Thank you for reading.