Why Affirmations Don’t Work

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: When I do affirmations, nothing changes. What am I doing wrong?

A: Affirmation is at its root a form of subtle speech. It is first important for you to recognize where affirmation fits on the spectrum of speech.

The first level of speech arises from the unconscious mind. This includes:

  • Profanity
  • Expression of emotions that are buried in the unconscious. These come out during periods of upset, argument, and defensiveness.
  • Certain types of psychotherapy encourage the communication of this material. This includes abreactive methods such as Primal Screaming, or dialog methods that give a voice to issues in the unconscious mind

The second level of speech is called consensual speech. These are statements made without emotion. They are factual reporting. These include:

  • Sensory report of what you are seeing
  • Reading technical or legal material aloud that is a statement of facts
  • Reading lists of information, such as names from a phone book

The third level of speech is called invocation. The most common types of invocation are chanting and prayer.

  • Chanting the name of a Divine Being, as is used in many spiritual traditions
  • Using a rote prayer that is written down in a scripture or hymn book, for which you do not have any emotional connection
  • Praying for a heartfelt desire, for something that impacts your life and that you genuinely wish to have granted
  • Intercessory prayer, in which you ask the Divine to meet the needs of others
  • Universal prayer, in which you invoke blessings for everyone

The fourth level of speech includes affirmation and suggestion. These include:

  • Statements addressed to the Subconscious mind to retrieve memory, or to the Akashic Records to trace back the origins of emotionalized issues. Process meditation employs this type of suggestion.
  • Suggestion is given to one of the hypnotic bands of the mind—spanning the Subconscious, Metaconscious, and Superconscious mind—to introduce change or to produce specific outcomes. This is applied in hypnosis and autohypnosis. This is called Suggestion.
  • Affirmation is performed at the periphery of awareness, repeating this affirmation at progressively deeper levels of the unconscious mind until it is anchored in the Superconscious mind and you feel powerful conviction it will come true. This type of affirmation is sometimes coupled with observing the content that arises in the liminal bands of the mind as you are doing the affirmation, which gives you insight into the inner resistance of the unconscious mind that may be interfering with the manifestation of what you desire. This type of affirmation is called Anchored Affirmation.
  • You speak an affirmation aloud with the core conviction that it is true, and you have complete faith that speaking this word will create or manifest whatever you desire. This is called Command Affirmation, Fiat, Power Affirmation, or Decree.

The fifth level of speech is called Inspired Speech. This occurs when you become a channel for the revelation or intuitive knowledge of the Superconscious mind. Examples include:

  • Communication received from another spiritual being, such as an angel, a departed spirit, or an Ascended Master. These words can be spoken aloud, which is referred to channeling or mediumship. They can also be written down, which is called automatic writing.
  • Revelations or prophecies received through the Holy Spirit, when it dwells in the inner altar of the Moon Soul or Christ Child nucleus of identity. This may take the form of revelation of the future (prophecy) or inspired teaching, which has been called preaching.

The sixth level of speech is called core speech or Satsang. This type includes:

  • When your ensouling entity speaks through you to give teaching and wise counsel (Atma Satsang)
  • When your attentional principle shares its experience or guides someone in meditation (Nirat Satsang)
  • When your spirit communicates its experience (Surat Satsang)

The seventh level of speech is called Divine Speech. Spiritual Masters (Initiates) utter this type of speech. Examples include:

  • The Word of Power, which anchors the Divine Light to destroy thought forms, or to bring the Omnific Power of Divine Intention into manifestation
  • Mantra Shakti, the ability to activate and animate a transformational (bija) mantra, so it is able to unfold the spiritual evolutionary potentials of others
  • Uttering the Words of the Divine, which have become the foundation of the world’s scriptures

To use suggestion and affirmation, you are tapping the fourth level of speech. In suggestion, anchored affirmation, and command affirmation, you utilize conation—intention or volition—to initiate change. It is important, when you are performing suggestion or affirmation, to observe the following:

  1. You need to know how to correctly perform the method. If you don’t apply it correctly, you won’t get results.
  2. You need to do the technique when it is appropriate. It needs to be the right technique to bring about the change you want.
  3. You need to have a genuine desire to change. You need to be invested in getting the results for which you are utilizing suggestion or affirmation.
  4. You practice the technique for a sufficient amount of time until your deeper mind—Subconscious or Superconscious—accepts your suggestion or affirmation, and begins to change old patterns of behavior, belief or emotional reactions.
  5. Your suggestion or affirmation needs to be in alignment with your Soul Purpose or the Divine Will, so you are not inadvertently working counter to their guidance. For your affirmation to be accepted, it should have relevance to your Soul’s ministry and service, or be germane to the expression of its abilities in your human life (Expressed Soul Purpose).
  6. Make sure your affirmation is not attempting to counter an element of destiny karma, which may not respond to your intention or volition to induce it to change. Suggestion or affirmation has little or no effect upon destiny karma.
  7. You believe the suggestion or affirmation is true, it would bring about positive change and improvement in your life, and it is for your highest good.

Affirmations don’t work when:

  • You’re not using the technique correctly.
  • It’s not appropriate to use them. It’s the wrong technique to achieve what you want.
  • You don’t really want to change. You resist change on a deep level of your mind.
  • You give up on the method before it has time to “take” within you.
  • You are using affirmation to manifest something not in keeping with your Soul’s purpose—in effect, you are asking for something that is not in alignment with what your Soul aims to manifest in your life—so your Soul denies its permission for your request.
  • You are trying to uproot elements of your destiny karma, which affirmations cannot change.
  • You are trying to do an affirmation someone else suggests to you, and it doesn’t genuinely resonate as true for you.

Affirmations are not a universal panacea; they do not work in all situations. If you do them correctly for the issues for which they are effective, they can powerfully promote change.

Q: I was reading some affirmations in one of Deepak Chopra’s books. While I recognized the perspective in which these affirmations were true, it didn’t seem to actually change anything. For example, there were a couple of affirmations in which he said that I was free of addictions and compulsions. I affirmed I was free from them, but these patterns haven’t changed. What am I doing wrong?

A: There’s nothing wrong with visualizing the state in which you are free from these patterns. However, until you eradicate the karma that underlies these issues, affirmations are not going to miraculously dissolve and release them. They are just not the right technique to purify, transmute, and integrate karmic patterns in the unconscious mind.

To do that, you need a transformational technique. These methods include:

  • Transformational mantra
  • Kriya Yoga
  • Nada Yoga (this works as a transformational technique in the Transcendental Sphere)
  • Light Immersion

We teach the rudiments of autosuggestion and using anchoring affirmations in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program. We go into greater depth on these techniques in the companion book for these classes, The Yoga of the Seven Mudras: Introducing the Mudrashram® System of Integral Meditation. Volume One: The Fundamentals of Meditation.

We also teach transformational mantra in our intermediate classes. This enables you to actively burn away the karma that underlies many of the patterns you are experiencing.

If you like affirmation as a technique to support the objectives you are attempting to actualize in your life, we would suggest you read different authors’ approaches to this technique to find one that works for you. Test each one: see if it gets you results.

If you do affirmation for the issues you can change, it will be an effective tool in your inner arsenal. However, your expectation that it will magically change what it is not designed to do needs to be tempered with a realistic appreciation of its appropriate application.

The Seven Layers of Affirmation

By George A. Boyd © 2017

Affirmation plays a key role in belief change in New Thought, New Age, Judeo-Christian prosperity gospel, and I AM Movement groups. By countering the negative beliefs that resist change, deny possibility, and work against the realization of your dreams, affirmation tunnels through the layers of the mind to penetrate to the Soul’s power of manifestation.

Affirmation takes a variety of forms, depending on the level of the Great Continuum where it is used.

  1. Fiat – This form activates the “magical” octave of will in the Subtle Realm. Wiccans, magicians, and students of Occult Adepts utilize this. It is commonly done with the word of power, “And so mote it be.”
  2. Universal mind affirmation – This form targets the Laws of the Universal Mind Subplane of the Abstract Mind Plane, and the Law of Attraction on the first Subplane of the Psychic Realm.
  3. Prayer of faith – This form channels the manifesting power of the Holy Spirit. It is common among those who tap the Christ Child nucleus of identity in the First Exoteric and Mesoteric Planetary Initiations. It includes conviction that certain power phrases or “promises” in the scriptures will come true, because God spoke them, or the Holy Spirit inspired them. It uses this fiery power to dissolve negative beliefs and create desired outcomes. It uses the word of power, “Amen.”
  4. Decree – This form channels the Mighty I AM Presence, the nucleus of identity of the Second Initiation. It speaks the Word of the Mighty I AM Presence to directly manifest what is desired, and to melt away any negative beliefs or change negative conditions or influences.
  5. Word of Power – This declares that an affirmation that is anchored in the Superconscious mind through multiple repetitions shall be made manifest. In addition to the “And so mote it be” of the Subtle Realm and the “Amen” of the First Initiation, other forms include “and so be it,” “let it be,” and “so be it in the OM.” In other spiritual traditions, this appears as “Amin” or “Aum.” The individual who makes an affirmation can add this word of power to powerfully augment the activity of the creative force of the Superconscious mind.

The affirmation cycle must pass through seven layers.

  1. Reason – Reason notes, “This is what is now,” and concludes, “In my current situation, this is not possible.” It requires proof that what is claimed can be physically verified.
  2. Imagination – Imagination visualizes, “This is what could be,” and envisions, “If conditions in my life were changed [in some specific way], this could be possible.” It believes that change is possible, and invites that possibility.
  3. Goal – When your Self chooses to make a possibility real, it sets a goal. The Self declares, “This is what I choose to have, do, or be in my life” and commits itself to constructive, committed action until the goal is reached. It realizes, “If I marshal these skills, this knowledge, these resources, and this support, I can make this so.” Goal setting taps the faculty of volition, and visualizes the discrete steps leading to fulfillment of that goal, and concretizes it as a plan. It ultimately may visualize each of the facets of full personal actualization, and work on goals that bring that vision into fruition.
  4. Conflict – As your affirmation begins to move into the unconscious mind, it encounters resistant beliefs that hinder the actualization of the outcome that you wish to manifest. You realize, as you tap this layer, “These are the beliefs that make this seem impossible and that impede my forward movement in this area of my life.” You recognize, “If I overcome this conflict within me, I can function as a unified being and work together with my Self and Soul to achieve this goal.” This layer reveals what is beneath the surface, hidden in the unconscious, and that subtly works against fulfillment.
  5. Symbol – If you have ever had a psychic reading, you have tapped into the layer of symbol. It gives the big picture of what the issue comprises, both the conscious forces that embrace change, and the unconscious forces that fear and resist change. At this level, you get “This is the symbol or metaphor that represents my complete relationship with this issue, and these are the positive and negative aspects of it.” You understand your experience is mirrored in the world of archetypes, and you can access this world through readings such as tarot, astrology, numerology, and other systems of archetypal divination.
  6. Faith – Faith believes in miraculous manifestation, based on the perceived Omnipotence of God. When you embrace faith, you can affirm, “I believe God, the Universe, or other Infinitely Powerful and Positive Force supports me, loves me, and will help me manifest this.” You rationalize this at this level as, “If God supports me, what I desire will inevitably manifest in my life without fail, as He/She/It is the One Absolute Power.”
  7. Creation – Creation draws upon the ability of your three immortal principles—attentional principle, spirit, and Soul—to directly manifest what you desire, respectively, through the operation of intention, the spirit’s wish, or the Soul’s transpersonal will. In creation you become fully conscious that, “I create and manifest this, and I bring it into being, form, and full manifestation in my life and the world around me.” You know in the deepest essence of your being, “If I create this, it becomes real in my life because I command, decree, and make it so.” Creation activates the Law of Manifestation or Law of Attraction.

Common to all of these forms of affirmation is the idea that there is a core power that is capable of manifesting what you intend, wish, or command—and the process of repetition of your affirmation must continue until this core is reached and activated.

To win over the results-oriented, proof-demanding, and reality-reifying sentinel of reason, your affirmation must genuinely produce the desired goal and unmistakably bring it into manifestation in the world.

If your affirmation is for there to be a million dollars in your bank account, there genuinely needs to be that amount in there—and it can’t be produced by a computer glitch.

If your affirmation is that your Soul Mate, the love of your life, is in a fully committed relationship with you, a centerfold of a lovely or handsome model will not do. He or she needs to be in the bed next to you, live in the house with you—and for an extra measure of proof—your wedding ring is on his or her ring finger and you’ve got his or her name on a marriage license along with yours.

While you can imagine something is possible, set a goal and make plans to achieve it, many times you will find that a mysterious force seems to sabotage or interfere with your efforts. This is where you encounter the zone of conflict.

The zone of conflict is where affirmation can truly shine, as the thrust of your insistent, repetitive declaration acts to counter the fears, doubts, worries, unworthiness, and despair that stand in the way of your actually making your dream come true.

This struggle between the forces in your psyche—those that believe it can be and those that don’t believe it can be—are mirrored in the archetypal realm as symbols and metaphors. This underlying conflict is commonly represented in art, poetry, and other creative endeavors; it is mirrored in an intuitive reading.

Breaking through into faith and creation ultimately directly activates the forces of the Superconscious mind to augment and support the act of will—your decision to make your dream come true through constructive action.

You can access these seven levels of affirmation through these evocative questions:

  1. What is your current situation? What is real for you right now?
  2. Do you believe this is possible that if magically, all of the conditions were in place for you to have this? What would this look like if this was fully manifest in your life?
  3. What are the steps to achieve what you desire? What would need to be in place for you to do, be, or have what you desire?
  4. What parts of you resist or fear achieving this desire? What are they and what do they need from you? What might you tell them to assuage their concerns?
  5. What symbol or metaphor represents your current situation? What symbol or metaphor portrays completion, the attainment of what you desire? What symbols or metaphors signify the stairway or bridge to this completion?
  6. Does God, the Universe, or whatever you conceive to be the Supreme Power underlying everything, support your dream? Does He/She/It give you permission to do, be, or have what you desire? Does this Power favor your undertaking?
  7. What are you willing to create concerning your dream? Do you choose to create it? Will you create it now?

If you use affirmations appropriately and judiciously, they can create a powerful momentum that draws you irresistibly towards your goals. If they are used correctly, they can give you the Soul Force to never give up, but to persist until you reach your dream.