Affirmations 101

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how daydreaming was good for you. If you did some daydreaming, you now are very aware of what it is you wish to create. Here is one of my favorite tools to use that awareness to actually make it happen!

The tool is an affirmation. An affirmation is basically a self-hypnotic suggestion, which is a suggestion to your unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is very literal. To see what I mean by that, right now, don’t think of a purple elephant.

What happened? If you are like most people, you immediately thought of a purple elephant. The unconscious mind doesn’t hear the word “not”, and so it immediately makes a picture of a purple elephant. That means a few things about how to structure an affirmation:

State it in the positive — Again, the unconscious mind does not hear “not”. And more subtly, it focuses where you focus it. So if you focus on getting away from a bad situation, you will perpetuate the bad situation, because you are reminding yourself of the bad situation. It’s important to focus on what you wish to create instead.
State it in the present tense — If you tell yourself something will happen, it will forever remain in the future. If you tell yourself it is becoming true, it is.
State it in a way that is believable to you — First, you must believe the desired state is possible, and that it is possible for you. Then, it must be believable to you as a statement. If you tell yourself that you are thin when you are 100 pounds overweight, your unconscious mind won’t believe you and will dismiss the suggestion. However, if you tell yourself that you are daily approaching your natural, slim weight, your unconscious mind can’t automatically reject that, so it may believe that and will be attracted to doing whatever is needed for it to happen.
State it in a way that is qualitative, not quantitative — the unconscious mind doesn’t understand numbers over two, or possibly three. Quick — think of a stick. Now think of two sticks. Now think of three sticks. Now think of four sticks. Getting a little fuzzy? Now think of 100,000 sticks. You can use numbers in goals, but not in affirmations.
The affirmation must be controlled by you. You have no more control over another person, and how they treat you, than you do over the weather. You do, however, have control over how you react, and over how proactive you are in any situation.

Affirmations are best used at times when you are naturally going into a light hypnotic trance. Contrary to popular belief, all people go in and out of these light trances all the time. If you’ve ever driven for a while and realized you don’t remember the last few miles or few minutes (or more!), you were in a trance state. When you do things like washing dishes or brushing your teeth or running a few miles on “automatic pilot”, you are in a trance state. You can use these states to your advantage by doing affirmations when you’re in them. Plan to do this in advance of the state and see how easily the affirmations manifest.

As you are doing your affirmations, all your internal objections to them will pop up to be dealt with. Those objections must be handled in ways that are satisfying to your unconscious mind. There are many, many ways to handle them, and I may suggest some in future articles.

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (, who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.