What Are Affirmations?
There is a lot of talk about affirmations. There are whole industries based on telling yourself who you are and what you will become as if it has already happened. Many famous people have asserted that this is how they became successful and I will not dispute their claims. However, I have discovered that many more people can tell themselves these mantras again and again and never seem to change.
Why is this? Is it because they never tell themselves long enough? Maybe they don’t talk loud enough or enthusiastically enough. Maybe they forget to do the routine regularly or often enough.
May I suggest that it may be because they really don’t believe what they are saying and cannot convince themselves that what they are trying to tell themselves is even remotely possible. When I was a kid, I remember my mom telling me that when a person hears a lie often enough he will eventually believe it. I saw ample evidence of that over the years.
You would think that the opposite would be true and perhaps in some cases it is. Yet spending a year or more telling yourself things that go against your core beliefs about yourself seems to be a waste of time and produces whole heap of guilt and condemnation while you wonder why you can’t overcome your resistance to success.
My perspective is that if we could be all we can be by our own effort, then we really don’t need the help of God. Then some of the scriptures would be either an outright lie or a misrepresentation of God. Bible verses like Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
If we could talk ourselves into greatness we would all be good and avoid evil. We would all live healthy happy lives and our relationships would be full of love and joy. Only good things would come our way because we declared it to be so. I’ve taken classes that promised me this if I just learned to clear my mind of all negativity and chanted the right words. I spent countless hours trying to keep at this and by appearances, I was the epitome of a healthy happy woman in a perfect marriage raising a bunch of amazing wonderful children. Outside, my facade was quite amazing. Inside, I was grieving and wondered if I would ever be happy or healthy or wise.
I continued in this struggle of pretence versus truth for more than ten years. Then I was introduced to the Truth and it was the Truth that set me free to be my true authentic self.
The Problem with Mantras
Mantras are a group of self-elevating affirmations that one might repeat to oneself over and over while in a state of induced relaxation. These words are often directed by someone other than yourself like a life coach or a guru who tells you what you should be saying to yourself.
Jesus told his disciples to follow him. After three years of teaching them and training them, He performed the ultimate sacrifice for them so that they could access Him and His Father through the Holy Spirit by dying on the cross for them (and the whole world) to pay the way. Then He resurrected from the dead and spent fifty more days with them to fill them in on the rest of the story. He commissioned them to go and make disciples, teaching them everything they’d learned to build His kingdom. We now have the same access to Him and His Father through the Holy Spirit because they did what He asked and left us a living record we call the Bible.
Jesus opened a door of access to the all knowing, all present, all powerful God. Because of this open door created by shedding His blood on the cross for us we have access to the whole truth which is greater than anything we could make up on our own. He knows just what we need to know to overcome our pain, our weaknesses and our greatest fears.
In my healing journey, I have discovered again and again that the truth trumps the facts which can be misinterpretted and the only one who knows the whole truth is God. He has a perspective that can completely overturn our core beliefs. When this happens, we can turn in a new direction with much more ease and the need for repetitious sentences is reduced sometimes to zero. There are times He simply puts the facts into perspective in a way you could not understand before. AFTER the new viewpoint is received, then repeating the new understanding can be helpful to retain what you have learned.
One example of this in my own life came when God gave me a new perspective of my marriage. I felt like a failure even after trying consistently to make my husband happy by trying every idea I could manage to no avail. I still felt like a failure even after all the prayers of repentance and all the forgiving prayers I’d prayed and following all the formulas for a happy marriage that I found.
I felt I had completely failed until I heard that inner voice I’ve learned to recognize as God’s. He said, “You did not fail. Nor did you make a mistake in marrying him. I gave him as a gift to you and you were a gift to him. What each of you did with your gift was up to each of you. I know that you did the best you could considering your limitations and I am satisfied that you gave it your personal best and grew up along the way. Now, I am a God of choice and your husband made his. Will you please let him go?”
One simple statement can erase years of torment. That single conversation made it possible to release my ex-husband to his own choices and close the door to a thirty year relationship. It healed many hurts and made forgiving him for the many years of pain I felt during our marriage so much easier. I was freed from the need to compel the man to believe that I’d loved him and to prove my worth as a wife even when he’d made it clear that he didn’t want me.
It is my prayer for each of you reading this that you would find such truth from the One who is Truth. I pray that you will learn to hear that voice and recognize when He is speaking to you and that The Truth will set you free.