Whether it’s the New Year or not, if you want to make resolutions that really have some teeth in them, you could try writing self-affirmations instead of resolutions. Most people don’t do that, you know. Resolutions are simply statements that show your determination to do something. Self-affirmations allow you to assertively state something for yourself as already true — even if there is no current evidence that it is. And even though that may sound illogical, it’s a process that works like magic.
Resolutions can be easily ignored, denied, forgotten, or discounted. You should know. You probably know someone for whom that has been true in the past . . . present company excluded, of course. But affirmations, when correctly done can literally reprogram your brain and your experience for success.
I’d like to give you a simple formula for creating self-affirmations that actually works; so if you’re interested, grab a pencil and a scrap of paper and you’ll be able to get started right away. That’s helpful for those of us who like instant gratification.
But before I tell you what the formula is, I want to point out that the principle behind it is not new by any means. A whole field of scientific study called neurolinguistic programming has grown up around the principle in recent years. But Solomon, who is said to be one of the wisest men who ever lived, summed it up quite nicely a couple of thousand years ago when he wrote, “As a Man thinketh in his heart, so is he . . . .”
Now if Solomon had been writing today, he no doubt would have written, “As a man or woman thinketh in his or her heart so is he or she.” After all, he was bound to be smart enough to be politically correct. Nevertheless, the truth of what he wrote is unassailable. . . so much so, that it has been repeated a few times in other ways, by other folks.
Both Henry Ford and Mark Twain are quoted as saying, “If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right!” Henry was born nearly thirty years after Mark, so we’ll give the latter the benefit of originality. But the wisdom is the same as Solomon’s.
In Richard Bach’s book Illusions . . ., he writes, “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.” Different words; flip side of the coin; but the same idea. And then you will also remember that “The Little Engine That Could” did because it started off by saying, “I think I can!” (And by the way, let’s not forget that there was a great deal of enthusiasm invested in that affirmation, also.)
Okay . . . if you have your pencil ready, I want you to write four terms down in list form, saving a little room for definitions in between just in case. Here we go:
I . . .
NOW . . .
EXACTLY WHAT . . .
WHEN . . ..
That’s it. Now, let’s look at what it means.
The “I” represents first person singular pronouns. When you write your self-affirmations, make sure they say “I,” “me,” and “myself,” but no “yous,” no “its” and no “theys.” In this case, you don’t need someone or something else to affirm you.
Try also to write or speak your affirmation without using the word “not.” Positive statements are more easily assimilated by the concrete processor of the brain than abstract, negative ones.
“NOW” is an adverb that represents a present tense verb. If you start with “I,” you might want to write I am, I can, I feel, I do, I see, I know, I believe, I understand . . . That’s all now as opposed to I will or I had or I did, which is not now. As with affirmative versus negative language, your brain functions better in the concrete present than in the abstract future or past.
The “EXACTLY WHAT” phrase means (more or less) exactly that. It’s what you want to affirm in terms that are as exact as you can state them. The more exact you are, the better. The brain doesn’t embrace fuzzy, vague ideas as well as it does sharp and clear ones.
“WHEN” means a reasonable deadline. If you don’t give yourself a reasonable deadline, you either give yourself forever (in which case, you’ll take forever) or you try to do too much more quickly than is reasonable. Both are deadly.
Now . . . a quick example before we move on. For the sake of illustration, let’s say you want to lose five pounds after the holidays (Good choice, huh!) and your target weight is 120 pounds. You might write: “I feel wonderful weighing 120 good-looking, powerful, healthy, and sexy pounds by February 15, 2013.” If you check, you’ll see that every element of the formula is included. “I” (first person singular pronoun) “feel” (present tense verb) “wonderful weighing 120 good-looking, powerful, healthy, and sexy pounds” (the exactly what) “by February 15, 2013,” (the reasonable deadline.)
Of course, your numbers and your words would probably be different; but as long as you cover the basics, write the affirmation, copy it, and place it in strategic locations where you can’t help but see it regularly, you’ll be way ahead of the game. And then, if you recite it or meditate on it with enthusiasm every time you see it, the message will soon be internalized as a truth. When that happens, you’re almost home free. You cannot be different than what you firmly believe you are.
Now you may think this is too simple to be effective; but if you got it, you can get it to happen for you. I guarantee it.