Action on Purpose

Perspectives Along the Path

An affirmation is a strong, positive statement that
something is already so.”
Shakti Gawain

The use of positive affirmation is one of the most versatile and powerful tools you have to strengthen, clarify, and inspire you toward your purpose. Our inner lives are actually full of affirmations: positive ideas we believe and accept as true. Of course, we are also full of fears and denials: those things we reject or cannot accept. Use of affirmation turns our attention toward the positive things we know to be true for us, deep down. The conscious use of affirmation helps us to adjust and rejuvenate the lens through which we see ourselves and the world…and that can make a tremendous difference!

In the service of motivating yourself and increasing your confidence to take action, choosing to affirm who you are, just as you are now, is primary. Making an inventory of what attributes, capacities, skills, or traits you already have is key. Count your blessings. Be aware that these are often things you take for granted, and so may be less visible to you at first glance than the attributes you want to change! “I am a loving presence.” “I am confident on the dance floor.” “I am a competent and creative employee.”

As you develop confidence in affirming who you are now, the next step is to affirm your capacity to grow. Here your affirmations will target those areas that you don’t feel so great about by affirming your capacity to change: “I can be a patient parent.” “I can change my diet in healthy ways.” “I can speak my mind at the office.”

Finally, once you feel secure in your belief that growth and change are possible for you in these target areas, then you can begin to affirm what you desire to become…your goals. “I will feel good about myself today.” “I will improve my grades this semester.” “I will be successful in love.”

A truly powerful affirmation combines an aspiration for the future with the truth of the present into a simple, meaningful statement. You are affirming that what you aspire to be is already present within you. I like the image of watering the seeds of what you want to grow within…acknowledging that the seeds are already there, and that nourishing them will help them to develop. What are the seeds within you that you want to see grow?

Guidelines for taking action with affirmations:

Pick a focus.
What is it you want to affirm in yourself or the world? If new to using affirmations, I advise picking a strength you can already identify in yourself. If you feel confident in your strengths, you might choose an area of your life you want to strengthen: your health, your financial success, your loving nature. Is your aspiration more global – that peace is possible, that hope endures, that abundance is unlimited? Identify what is within you that you want to affirm today.

Generate a list of 3-5 affirmations that speak to you, right now. It is important that an affirmation has meaning for you, and says exactly what you intend it to. For this reason, I usually advise people to craft their own affirmations. However, many find that an affirmation others have used can speak to them in profound ways. If you are new to using affirmations, or you are feeling uninspired, try reading various affirmations to get a feel for them before crafting your own. A library, bookstore, or Internet search will lead you to a wealth of examples of positive affirmations. In crafting your own affirmation, you might want to use a simple format such as, “I am a (insert adjective) (insert noun).”

Here are a few examples in this form:

I am an incredible artist.
I am a firm and patient parent.
I am a powerful advocate.
I am a dedicated exerciser.

Or experiment with the form, as in:

I welcome success into my life.
I am growing healthier every day.
My life is filled with love.
Generosity flows through me to others.

Choose one, simple affirmative statement. Stay with it for a period of time, perhaps a month, to really allow it to take root in you. There are so many wonderful affirmations to choose, but skipping from one to another doesn’t allow the kind of unfolding that a consistent, daily practice can nurture.

Write it down. Whether it is an affirmation you have crafted, or one you have heard or read somewhere, write it down in your own handwriting. By writing it down, you are creating a tangible, physical representation of your affirmation in the world. Whenever you see it, it is an external reminder of what it is you are affirming. So put your affirmation where you will see it often! I like to write my current affirmation on an index card and place it prominently on my desk. Others may put it on a mirror, where they eat, or on their computer. How about using the first letter of each word of your affirmation as a password…so you’ll have to recall it every time you log onto your computer?

Give it Voice. Literally, give it voice by reciting it out loud often, at least daily, for a period of time. How about a month? For many it is best to pick a particular time to recite it…while driving to work, or opening your planner, or preparing your breakfast.

Observe what happens over time as the affirmation grows and takes root in you.

Action On Purpose Challenge

Using the steps above, come up with a short list of meaningful affirmations. Then, choose one, write it down, and say it aloud at least once a day for the next month. Observe the impact, over time, of affirming your truth.