Opinion: The power of affirmation

by H. James Williams

There truly is power in the tongue to utter things into existence. Take a moment to think about affirmations you have heard but have not consciously given any thought.

Affirmations for the purpose of this article are declarations of what you believe to be true or imagine being true. Affirmations can be uttered and repeated vocally or mentally. Affirmations are used to validate judgment and re-enforce conviction of core beliefs, values and emotions. Affirmations strongly influence how we each approach life starting in infancy. Negative affirmations cripple self-esteem over time and result in distrust, anxiety disorders, negative attitudes, devaluation of self, anger, distress and depression. Positive affirmations are more likely over time to promote positive attitudes, personal confidence, motivation for positive achievement and a wholesome outlook on life.

1.  Parental Affirmations

Parents consciously, or unconsciously, use affirmations in the form of hand-me-down sayings and colloquialisms to condition the attitude, behavior and thinking of their children. A child that hears only negative put-downs while growing up will potentially become mentally wired to have low self-esteem. Phrases like, “You are not worth the salt that goes into your bread” are negative affirmations. Children affected by such repeated affirmations growing up are later in life faced with emotional and mental challenges to overcome. They have to discover, or be taught, to rethink themselves as individuals of worth.

Children reared with positive affirmations such as, “You can do or become anything you set your mind to become” are more apt to be instilled with self-confidence to achieve in a positive way in their lifetimes.

2.  Organizational Affirmations

Public, private and religious organizations use affirmations to condition the thinking of their membership. Affirmations further the cause, belief, brand, service or product of the organization. Slogans such as “You deserve a break today,” or “Just do it” are examples of affirmations linked to subtle emotions marketed to ingrain loyalty to products. In the world of sports, attractive cheer leaders chant team affirmations to help rally their team to victory. Church affirmations save. Military affirmations prepare for war. Group affirmations breed loyalty. Negative campaigns utilize emotionally charged negative affirmations to derail the efforts and beliefs of those not in keeping with their organization’s vision, challenge or purpose.

3.      Media Affirmations

The media is ripe with affirmations in the form of 30 second sound bites and lyrical refrains. Media affirmations have the influence of manipulating facts around critical thinking and stereotyping social consciousness about people, life styles, personal beliefs, values and emotions.

Children and adults are exposed to audio and video affirmations that, when attached to emotionally and mentally, have varying effects on personal beliefs, attitudes and actions that influence positive and negative behaviors.

Media affirmations have been credited with starting movements in social consciousness such as the affirmation of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.”  Romantic affirmations in music seduce while blues affirmations soothe heartache and loss.

Negative audio and video affirmations are credited with glorifying violence and criminal behavior. When adopted, negative affirmations actualize negative self-worth to achieve glorified criminal spoils.

4.      Personal Affirmations

James Allen in “As a Man Thinketh” espouses that “As you think, so you are.”  Largely what we think and believe has been shaped and conditioned by life-long affirmations. Our accumulated affirmations affect the values and convictions that guide the actions of our everyday lives. When we develop internal conflict between conflicting values and beliefs, personal affirmations and imagination serve to re-program, convert and re-enforce desired core values and beliefs.

In a video by Dan and Jennifer at the website Today is That Day , the opinion is provided that affirmations essentially work through repetitions attached to real emotions over time that bring about sought after changes in a person’s life. Earl Nightingale in “The Strangest Secret” espouses that “We become what we think about,” and that “. . . success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

Unfortunately, the idea of success is not universal. For some, success is the acquisition of personal gain through deceit and the progressive realization of unsavory spoils. Either through worthy or unworthy acquisition, personal gain largely results from the influence of conscious, and subconscious, affirmations affecting emotions, values and beliefs over time.

In conclusion, affirmations influence what and how we think and feel. What we think and feel influences what we believe and imagine. What we believe and imagine influences our attitude and actions.  Affirmations can be positive or negative. It becomes imperative to use conscious, positive affirmations to assert positive influences and outcomes for our lives and for the lives entrusted in our care.

There truly is power in the tongue to utter things into existence. Take a moment to think about affirmations you have heard but have not consciously given any thought. How do you think any affirmations you have lived with in the form of sayings, expressions, lyrics, sound bites, adages, colloquialisms or proverbs possibly influenced your life?  If any are negative, consider using the power of positive personal affirmations, with emotion and conviction, to re-channel yourself toward progressive realizations of worthy ideals.

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Williams owns and operates Aliant Coaching Services located in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the author of two books, “Wavelets of Purpose” and “Addae’s Journey”.

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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