Affirmations Don’t Work. This Does.
I don’t know about you, but I find affirmations to be useless.
In her book The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte has this to say:
‘When my mouth was saying, “I am fearless and courageous!” my brain was saying, “I’m scared shitless.” So then not only did I still feel scared, I also felt like a fake.”
Who else has tried stating affirmations as a solution, and felt like Danielle? That as hard as you tried, saying “I am fearless!” did not disappear the fear? Ignoring the truth, while attempting to lie to yourself…that sort of resistance can leave you feeling empty and helpless. It’s just denial! And you might start to feel more panicky as a result because you’re reminded of your lack of control.
We can’t ignore what we KNOW to be true. If we’re terrified because of something we believe deep down, using statements of affirmation is akin to throwing a glass of water at an ocean wave.
The solution can be simple. Instead of covering up the fear, accept it. Feelings have a very good reason to be there, inconvenient though they might be.
Affirmations have the right intentions, they just don’t go deep enough. There’s a sort of pep talk you can use (it’s quick), and it’s very useful in life (especially big moments, like presentations or much desired job interviews).
I love Danielle LaPorte’s solution to replace affirmations:
“Look in the mirror and tell the truth. State some beliefs. Recall your successes. Give voice to what you’re doing that’s working in your life right now. Pour on the desire. State your intention.”
There’s depth to this process, a freedom awarded through acknowledging what’s there (both in the immediate moment, as well as the big picture). There’s a release through honesty, and don’t worry, the fear doesn’t take over when you finally give it your attention. Instead, there’s a calming effect.
Here’s an example to give you an idea of what this looks like in motion. I’m a musician, and a few days ago, I was about to get on stage to perform. That’s nothing new, but severe stage fright has been a steady friend throughout my career. After using Danielle’s pep talk method, I had clarity and a steadiness that isn’t usually there when I perform. The familiar nervousness was there too, but it wasn’t front and center. This made such a difference for me:
Speaking to myself in the mirror:
My whole body is shaking, and I am terrified to get on stage right now. This happens every time. I want to perform well, and I’m afraid to make mistakes. (TELL THE TRUTH)
I’m pretty damn good at music though. I love everyone in that room. I’ve definitely got what it takes to perform, and I want to share my art. (STATE SOME BELIEFS)
I’ve been doing this for YEARS, and have nailed it countless times! (RECALL SUCCESSES)
Outside of this moment, I’m building a successful business supporting others. I’m brave in my work with my therapist. I have really wonderful friends that love me, and a I have a lot to look forward to in my life with my sweet husband. (GIVE VOICE TO WHAT’S WORKING IN MY LIFE)
I want to sing, because I love it. I want to share my art in a moment that feels sacred. I want to make the world a better place by adding a little more music. (POUR ON THE DESIRE)
I’m going to do my best in this performance. Maybe I’ll make someone cry in a good way! :) (STATE MY INTENTION)
It’s much better to be realistic, to allow how you’re feeling to exist without trying to ignore it. I’m sure by now you know, it doesn’t go anywhere. Those feelings just get more intense shrouded in shame as we fail to get a hold of ourselves. We can get really good at ignoring what we don’t like, but unless we’re real about what’s inside of us, we’ll never quite have control over how we show up.
So give Danielle’s method a try! I’m curious to hear how it goes for you. And read her book The Desire Map if you get a chance, it’s worth it.