Research Paper By Stania Zbela
(Transformational Coaching, UNITED STATES)
General applications and misconceptions of positive self-affirmations in every day life
Every day people affirm and reaffirm their self identity, beliefs and values both consciously and subconsciously. Oftentimes the process becomes automatic and unconscious as the quotidian needs and demands arise. Individual habits and patterns further complicate and even distort this basic mechanism of affirming subjective “truths” as time and energy are likely assigned quantitative value in the pursuit of meaning making and happiness. It is often difficult for people to
remember anything beyond [their] reoccurring impulses, dreams and desires,
and yet it would behoove them to maintain a bigger picture of their life and their connectedness to all living beings and matter as a means of leading a more purposeful and satisfying existence. Although seemingly easy, this way of thinking demands a reorientation of the self submerged in an endless array of external influences preying upon the internal drives of need and desire. However, as elaborate or complicated people’s lives may appear, it ultimately boils down to needs and desires which propel people to action. Once these are unearthed, processed and reintegrated through the exploration of one’s life purpose and values, a variety of options began to surface and point the way even through the most troubled waters.
The method and application of positive self-affirmation to better one’s life is one such option. If utilized correctly, it not only yields the desired results but can become a reliable resource in times of trouble. It is, however, extremely important to clear up common misconceptions of how positive affirmations work before laying down the groundwork in order to eliminate any unnecessary patching up of a faulty foundation.
According to Martin Rossman, a medical pioneer in mind body medicine, the unanimous top stressor in people’s lives is worry. If not managed accordingly, worry will preclude positive thinking by sabotaging efforts regardless of the positive intent behind it. In other words, if the need or desire is not uncovered in the process of intending, it will limit the individual from taking the proper action—an integral aspect of the positive self-affirmation method. Without appearing too reductionistic, a lot of anxiety and/or worry do seem to stem from a person’s self-image, ability to perform and self- and social acceptance. Once these “meta” needs are exposed, the person will have a better starting point in designing an effective program to manage stress and reach desired goals.
Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology developed an effective imagery system which allowed his patients to delve into their unconscious via art, hypnosis, active visualization and recollections of dreams which were later analyzed and reintegrated via the conscious state to make the individual more whole or balanced. Drawing on Jung’s extensive discoveries of how the human psyche functions, Rossman has created a holistic 5-step Emotional/Intuitive Intelligence Wisdom system (2010:29) to help the modern person combat worry and stress while moving towards an optimal state of being: cultivate calmness via breathing and relaxation; clarify worries by sorting them into “can/cannot change” categories; access inner wisdom by practicing meditation; enact guided imagery via visualization; and empower self via “best quality” imagery .
Additionally, focused effort and commitment is required to bring about even a modicum of success before applying positive affirmations to bigger goals. Any worthy book or website on positive affirmations underlines this importance. And the principals of effective integration of new learning are further supported by Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) which maintains the 21-30 day rule to effectively learn and apply a new habit. Anything less will demand backtracking to the original intent and the subsequent inception of a technique or tool to make it happen.
Another casual misconception comprises the belief that the method of positive self-affirmations does not require a change in other areas of one’s life. The premise of this paper is analogous to Abraham Maslow’s classical hierarchy of motivational needs model which both satisfies and integrates five levels of needs beginning with the primary stage of the physiological and safety needs (physical and material), the secondary stage of the emotional and social wellbeing (emotional and social) before arriving at the highest level of self-actualization needs (mental and spiritual), the tertiary stage where the positive affirmations method can be categorically placed. (Maslow’s classic model was later augmented by three more levels or two more stages.) It is difficult to maintain both the commitment and focus if one is habitually drained or isolated from others.
Similarly, if a person has deep seated anxiety or anger issues and he or she wants to bring about a better job position via the application of positive affirmations, unless some attention is also given to the underlying behavioral issues (emotional needs), he or she will probably not be very successful in applying positive affirmations to the desired goal. By delving deeper and exploring one’s values and beliefs system, a genuinely interested person will also uncover the roadblocks, the aversions and the attachments to negative motivational factors which habitually preclude the movement in the right direction. These discoveries will redress the failed attempts to arrive at the desired destination. And a more accurate map of the intended travel will have surfaced.
The state of manifesting one’s reality requires a systematic control over one’s thoughts which— by means of this deliberate process— are then transformed and channeled into desirable outcomes. A person tapping into the highest level of his or her potential will not be discouraged by obstacles or setbacks regardless of the intensity of the temporal discomfort. By accessing energy from this vital and/or spiritual plane, that person will learn not only how to cope effectively but even more importantly, how to utilize the crisis for maximum benefit. Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the positive self-affirmation method will generate desirable results mainly for those who have already gone through the first two stages of self-development and who have reached a measurable degree of success through persistence, optimism and self-appreciation.