I Thought Affirmations Were a Key to Success... I was Wrong.
Recently, I've been thinking more about the power of affirmations. Specifically, do I personally believe in the power of affirmations? Why are so many bloggers and entrepreneurs, especially in the “find your passion” and mindfulness niches, all about the law of attraction? Can you really manifest your destiny by reciting affirmations? As I've continued my blogging journey, it seems that the most prominent influencers attribute their rising success to positive thinking and manifesting their dreams. I've created vision boards. I've written down and visualized my goals. I even tried reciting affirmations out loud to myself. Yet, I arrived at this point where I wondered: Do I truly believe in the power of positive affirmations?
I am not trying to oversimplify the road to success. I know that tears, sweat, and blood go into building a brand. Then to convert that brand into a business that actually earns a livable income is like leaping over mountains. Yet from the outside looking in, it seems that I’m flooded with messaging that if I meditate on a catchy quote, repeat a “fake deep” affirmation, and adopt a mantra for attracting success into my life, that success, whatever that means, will have to come. The positivity movement slightly bothers me, because obtaining success requires much more than just positive thinking— and it seems that people don't want to share about the struggle as much as they share their accomplishments. Is positive thinking even a minimum requirement? I mean even the most successful people tend to suffer from anxiety and depression.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
—Philippians 4:13 NLT—
While reading this verse, it dawned on me. I felt somewhat unable to fully agree or disagree with the law of attraction lifestyle— leaving me in a sort of limbo as I work on becoming more of an optimist— because I failed to realize that positive affirmations may have originated from, but are not founded in biblical truth.
Positive affirmations may have originated from, but are not founded in biblical truth.
You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you; And light will shine on your ways. —Job 22:21 NASV —
What is the difference between positive affirmations and biblical confessions?
My personal revelation led me to question further the differences between reciting positive affirmations and making biblical confessions— verbally acknowledging the truths from God’s word. In the laws of attraction and positivity lifestyles, positive affirmations are self-centered. I don’t use self-centered in a negative sense, but in the sense that affirmations originate from my desires and are directed at myself. Often, affirmations are about material objects or tangible signs that may demonstrate success. Biblical confessions are built on the foundation of God’s promises, will, and power. When declared, biblical confessions are my direct plea to God and a reminder to myself of what God has already promised me. Biblical confessions are about me trusting in God to be my constant provider who will create a path ahead for me to follow. Affirmations focus solely on the positive aspects of my desires— hence, why we also call them positive affirmations. Biblical confessions focus on the fact that God is not only faithful during my triumphs, but more importantly he is faithful through my struggles.
I've recently started listening to Courtney Sander’s Think and Grow Chick podcast. Like Courtney, I am open about my faith and relationship with Christ—not in a pushy, judgmental way, but in the way that elements of my faith are revealed in my life and blog. In the episode “How to Master Your Emotions,” Courtney discusses how she uses words of affirmation in her life. She provides an example of how she speaks of her career: let my work be established (Psalms 91). Next, she discusses occasionally journaling about her current hardships, worries, etc. as well as her wants. Then she writes down her prayers, which is a great way for her to see how God answers her requests. She continues on to speak on how she uses other affirmations to speak into her life. Her primary affirmation being “I will live and not die,” which is actually a biblical confession about overcoming adversity. Basically, throughout this podcast episode, Courtney explained how she uses biblical confessions (though she did not use this term) to affirm her life.
I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
—Psalm 118:17 NIV—
In our late 20s and 30s, many of us battle internally with our quarter life crisis trying to discover our passions and purpose in life. During this period in life, we are faced with significant psychological stress that can also manifest itself as physical stress. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many of us gravitate towards the laws of attraction philosophy, specifically the use of positive affirmations. As I continue to think about my views on using positive affirmations in my life, I acknowledge there are benefits of positive thinking. However, I notice that I am more confident, calm, and positive after reciting biblical confessions over my life and career, versus reciting positive affirmations. I attribute my demeanor shift to the fact that I am not trying to obtain success by my own abilities but through God's. Instead of "faking it until I make it," I get to acknowledge when life is rough, acknowledge that I've been better, and trust that I will be good again.
Attempting to make things happen based on positive affirmations and my own sheer willpower, will only get me so far.
Do I believe that positive thinking and affirmations can be beneficial?
Absolutely. More importantly, I believe if you put your mind towards something that you believe is achievable, you will be more motivated to take the actions to try to achieve your want. To me, positive thinking inspires action, not a passive attraction of energy.
Do I believe that positive affirmations are for everyone?
Absolutely not. Positive affirmations are by no means a key to success for everyone. Positive affirmations can actually make some people feel worse, dampening the fires of inspiration and motivation.
Do I believe that positive affirmations are for me?
Not isolated from biblical confessions. My time of devotion studying Philippians 4 served as a reminder that as I seek my purpose in life, I need to continue trusting in God to be my source of energy, acknowledging Him in seasons where I'm #winning as well as in seasons where I am overwhelmed and frustrated with many aspects of my life.