“Affirmations are simply the practice of repeating to yourself what you want to achieve while imagining the outcome you want.” – Scott Adams
For a long time, the word “affirmation” brought to mind, “Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.” When you see it in print like that, it’s hard to believe and easy to dismiss. The phrase was created by Emile Coué (1857-1926), a French psychologist and pharmacist who developed a method of psychotherapy based on autosuggestion.
Later, when I studied the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, I found a broader concept of affirmations and why certain types of suggestions work for certain types of people. In Scientific Healing Affirmations, (1925), Yogananda wrote:
“Imagination, reason, faith, emotion, will, or exertion may be used according to the specific nature of he individual – whether imaginative, intellectual, aspiring, emotional, volitional, or striving. Few people know this. Coué stressed the value of autosuggestion, but an intellectual type of person is not susceptible to suggestion, and is influenced only by a metaphysical discussion of the power of consciousness over the body. He needs to understand the whys and wherefores of mental powers. If he can realize, for instance, that blisters may be produced by hypnosis…he can understand the power of the mind to cure disease. If the mind can produce ill health, it can also produce good health.”
Recently, I found an even simpler testimonial to the power of affirmations in Scott Adam’s book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Discussing affirmations in an earlier book, Adams drew negative email from people who claimed he believed in magic. In two chapters of his latest work, Adams lays out the principles of affirmations without venturing any guesses on why they have worked for him, with the exception of one simple principle:
“The pattern I have noticed is that the affirmations only worked when I had a 100 percent unambiguous desire for success.”
He then summarizes his experience with affirmations, leading up to the big one in his life: “I, Scott Adams, will be a famous cartoonist.” As the book makes clear, he was already working in the field and committed when he practiced this suggestion.
I recommended How to Fail when I reviewed it, and the chapters on affirmation alone are worthy of another recommendation.