In 1997, Noah St. John, an active consumer of the affirmation trend, had a realization: what if we learned to ask better questions to create a better life for ourselves? And so, the theory of affirmations was developed…
Affirmations are a widely used and endorsed practice in which a person states something they desire to be true, i..e. “I am so happy… I am rich…I am in love…” However, as Noah explains, we know the brain is likely to catch on to this tale and respond with varying sentiments of, “yeah, right!” and we cycle back to defeat and doubt on why we can’t just speak it and it is true- seems to work for everyone else, right?
So the real question is: what is a thought, actually, and how can changing our thoughts possibly create a shift in our life?
A thought is a cognitive process of the brain often manifested by unconscious stimuli, which then presents in our consciousness to alert us of a need to maintain survival. These thoughts can be helpful and needed for us to have, “I shouldn’t run across the street during traffic,” and sometimes they are unhelpful for us to have, “I’m a failure and not good enough.” Ultimately, thoughts are the only sources of information to help us survive and connect: a thought is not good or bad it just is.
What we also know to be true is that thoughts often generate other thoughts (stream of consciousness), emotions, and behavior. Noah St. John asks the question “why is the sky blue?” Spend some time with this question….
What is your brain doing right now? It is searching for an answer through thought. So if I ask myself, “why am I not happy,” I start thinking of all the reasons I’m not happy, such as “I’m single, my career isn’t where I want it, I’m not [blank] enough.” This leads to other thoughts such as, “if I’m never happy I’ll never be x,” “what’s wrong with me?” and “what’s the point.” This then greatly influences how we move through our day. Who feels motivated and encouraged after reading those thoughts? Yeah, me neither.
Noah’s explanation is that each of our thoughts is sewn to another thought all in search of an answer to our question, and, if we don’t have an answer, our mind will create a story for the question. Hence, a lousy question leads to a lousy answer. Noah proposes if we ask a better question we are likely to find a better answer, which then generates a better cognitive experience and a better life. Welcome to the stage, affirmations!
Affirmations form what you want rather than affirmations, which affirm where you are right now. They are statements that, when said over and over, create a new belief. We all hold core beliefs that have been reinforced over time.
No one is born thinking they are not good enough or are a failure- somewhere along the way we received that message and it continued to get reinforced through behavior and/or situations that we then stamped into our mind and assigned as a fact rather than it’s true form and continued to live as if it is true.
So why not create a new, helpful statement and continue to reinforce that until it becomes a belief? The idea is that what we reinforce as a belief will ultimately influence behavior and emotion, and will allow us to seek opportunities we may have noticed before or been offered prior. I encourage you all to consider shifting your thinking since thoughts will always be with us and observe what you begin to manifest.
For Noah’s full spiel of affirmations here is a link to an interview he participated in
Noah also has 10+ books to explore, should you want to explore this concept further.
Examples of Affirmations:
“Why is it so true I am successful.”
“Why is it so easy to feel respected at work.”
“Why is it so true I love myself wholeheartedly.”
“Why is it so easy for me to feel heard and understood.”
“Why is it so easy for me to ask for what I need from others.”
Written By: Lindsay Buvel, LCPC
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in therapy and psychiatry services. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic at (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.