Although no model is perfect unto itself—and Maslow’s hierarchy of motivational need pyramid poses significant questions—it lays out a blueprint of the bigger picture at stake via the potential release of destructive beliefs and the shifting of a perspective. The concept of self-actualization and its varied implications, can serve as a very powerful tool for the individual who has already manifested results on the lower levels of the pyramid of needs. Additionally, the interdependence of human needs and/or desires is inescapable when understood holistically; both the positive self-affirmation method and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model address this keynote in a simple and clear manner for the subconscious mind to absorb before a person arrives at his or her own internal structure to begin generating desired results externally.
The third major misconception in using positive self-affirmations effectively is idleness or inaction. When there’s no real commitment to action, no real outcome follows. Doing positive affirmations intermittently or only when in a positive frame of mind brings about mixed results and additional frustration. By only repeating positive affirmation (out loud or in writing) but not following through with the necessary action steps forever leaves one at a point of departure—the place of intent to arrive at the desired destination. Moreover, a lack of commitment quickly leads to a lack of motivation which culminates with the classic state of inaction. Unfortunately, since people also tend to be unconsciously negatively motivated, the difficulty of maintaining commitment in the face of adversity is indeed overwhelming. In combating worry and laying out an effective action plan, Rossman is wise to rely on Roberto Assagioli’s pioneering trans psychology work when he states that people tend to
have a ‘weak link’ in the chain of moving from insight to action
Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychology and Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the founders of NLP, discovered through their research that successful people are highly self-reflective and possess a developed internal structure to skillfully turn insight into concrete action. Such people also embody an effective framework to deal with any arising challenges or inherent difficulties and a practical system that helps them turn problems into solutions. To the innocent observer, self-actualized individuals seems to rely on special knowledge when it comes to navigating skillfully over troubled waters, but in fact, such persons have developed an elaborate, highly refined and continuously advancing system that optimizes their intelligence, inherent talents and acquired skills to further develop their self-designated potential to be all that they can be in the freest and most natural state possible (O’Connor & Saymour, 1990:179-204).
Although not an exhaustive list of the many more misconceptions that exist about effectively using positive affirmations, these three main ones ought to suffice to proceed to the actual method and its effective application to coaching. However, a disclaimer needs to be made to keep things in a broader perspective. Although much attention has been given to the study of human consciousness in the last century, the human mind and its three known levels of consciousness (conscious, subconscious, unconscious)—both as independent and interdependent systems— remains a great mystery; meanwhile, it continues to elude experts who cannot help but to be driven by its mysterious force to hypothesize and systematically test, measure and categorize its expansiveness into some form of scientific consistency. If, however, the mind is continuously integrating, evolving and expanding like any complex living system, it must also be capable of shaping and reshaping of itself, thus giving rise to an altogether different paradigmatic view of the way people learn, behave and come to create and recreate themselves.
II. The method of positive self-affirmations and its implication in coaching
In its most fundamental state, the method of self affirmations comprises the formulation of a goal, the generation of self-affirmation through any personalized technique that will be discussed shortly, the daily ritual of writing an/or repeating self affirmations, the willingness to observe oneself and modify the technique along the way, and finally the necessary action steps to arrive at the desired outcome. However, a more comprehensive positive self-affirmation method will also include the releasing of corresponding negative beliefs, the integration of imagery or self-visualization, daily journaling to document successes and learning along the way, and some form of quiet time and/or meditation. Lastly, the maintaining of gratitude and the surrendering to higher or transcendent forces outside of personal control is also extremely helpful if not vital.
Beginning with the first step—the formulating of a goal, the act of intending a specific outcome is of paramount significance here, for it opens up the possibility of the outcome to exist. This “super objective” also unlocks internal energetic forces and fuses them with the external universal ones at the incipient stages of the process. A kind of deep longing or desire is ignited in the instant of intending, particularly when the desire is aligned with a person’s higher purpose. And if the intent is strong enough, a subtle shift in consciousness occurs culminating with the feeling of “knowingness,” which often heralds the goal in less time than initially anticipated (Gawain, 1978:98).
Whether the intent is evoked daily or maintained in the background, this incredible mechanism intuitively guides the person towards the next right step not only in modifying the goal, but perhaps more importantly, in sustaining the momentum when things become laborious or complicated. This can prove crucial for a coach when assisting clients in formulating realistic and practical goals which can in themselves also serve as guiding posts along the way to the desired destination as it is not unusual for clients to modify or even change their goals entirely once the coaching process is underway. Most importantly, in order for the goal to remain viable, its blueprinting effect is most effective when further supported by the setting and/or explorations of clear intentions whenever necessary.