How abstract words and affirmations can change our minds, big-time.
It is 4:30 on a clear morning in Whistler today. It’s still dark. I am looking out my window and through the spiralled branches of evergreens to the village trail, which is lit by lamp-posts with white globes on top. The light glistens over a pillowy-thick quilt of snow.
Today I am thinking a lot about words, and in particular, the power of the ideas they hold. Words in the form of “denials and affirmations” have the power to change the very nature of our being. They can change the way we feel, and in some cases save one’s life.
The Biggest Number
I am awake a little earlier than usual because my son wandered into bed next to me. It triggered a memory from about 5 years ago. He was 3 and I said “I love you infinity.” My wife said to him “I love you infinity to the power of infinity.” Normally we would give up at this stage, admitting that my wife loves everybody the most.
Then Alexander said something that was mind-blowing. “I love you infinity to the power of a triangle.” It was this abstract thought that made us laugh out loud. Did he know what he was doing? I think he did. It made sense to him. He knew what “to the power of” meant, although he couldn’t calculate it yet, we had explained the concept to him.
Did he realize that he was implying that he was multiplying into something that transcended both simple mathematics and algebra and transcended into geometry. Not only that, he transcended into the most stable geometric structure we know.
Let the Flow Go
As I step out of this rabbit hole of description, I want to get back into the words that can empower us. Stress affects all of us and in particular I want to talk about stressful emotions and thoughts. This “transcending” is something useful that we can apply to our lives every day.
Our emotions and thoughts are like a flowing river. They flow sometimes fast and sometimes slow. They are powerful. The trouble is that when we have stressful thoughts we often try to stop them. So what we do is we jump in this river and end up being swept away, all the time fighting this thought.
The thing is when you think about a thought, it creates more thinking, and there is a vicious circle. It becomes a habit and then it becomes harder to stop. Through a valley, over a waterfall, and into the ocean.
If we don’t jump in the river though, the water just passes by. Thoughts are the same way. Our thoughts and feelings are present in our bodies but they are also just passing through. If we take a chance and accept that we have the ability to transcend out of our bodies for a moment then we can say “Huh, look at that, I feel angry.” This allows the feelings and thoughts to pass by and we set ourselves free of the white-water ride of emotion.
In a way we are elevating ourselves, looking at things from another vantage-point.
Thoughts and Pollution
Sometimes the thoughts are clear as glacier water. Sometimes our thoughts are murky. Our mind gets polluted with emotions and unhealthy thoughts. Our chemistry has a lot to do with our thoughts too. Have you ever had a nightmare after eating something questionable, or after drinking alcohol? In the same way you have to wait for it to leave your system, so you also have to wait for emotions to clear your system.
There are things we can do to detoxify the waters. First we can reduce or eliminate processed foods, and eat organic fruits and vegetables. Then we can take high-quality supplements. We can drink filtered water. And don’t forget that we can get adjusted to improve the function of our nervous system. All of this affects the “flow of the water” from upstream.
Bank on Serenity
When we think healthier thoughts using affirmations, it improves our ability to stay on the shore. We can pick a part of the river that’s more friendly in the same way we pick which friends we hang out with, or plan what productive things we will do today. It may even be part of the river where it’s ok to jump in from time to time.
We can keep a relatively small amount of thought in our minds at one time. I think it is vital to keep some thoughts on the shore, and send other thoughts into the river to wash away. Denials and Affirmations are a way to select those thoughts that are hanging out with you all the time.
Denials and Affirmations are short sentences that you say aloud every day, or multiple times per day, which change your feelings and raise you into a focused, calm and loving state.
In the 1935 book Dynamic Thought by Henry Thomas Hamblin the author explains the usefulness and difference between denials and affirmations. He suggests denials should take the form of “there is no evil.” Affirmations take the form ” There is only good.” For example.
- Thoughts of procrastination do not exist, I am a person of immediate action.
- Sadness would never control me, I am filled with love and hope and determination to create a better world.
If you google “morning affirmations” many will actually be denials. I think the denials alone are far less effective. In fact before reading Dynamic Thought I thought they were quite negative and unproductive. Let me explain how it seems incomplete by showing you some examples I found on the internet.
- “I won’t let people walk all over me”
- “Today I won’t cave in and eat junk food”
- “I will stop being lazy”
The Affirmation Spectrum
When I first started composing and helping people with affirmations a few years ago, I found these to sound more like back-handed insults than affirmations. But here is the thing. For some people, this is the right tone they need. There is a spectrum of positivity that affirmations can have.
If we raise the vibration of these same ideas a bit we will get something like this:
- “I respect myself, and so do others”
- “Today I will calmly welcome the most beautiful nutrients into my body”
- “I am a person of action and I always love exercise”
Sometimes Less is More
What I found was that for some people, the more positive words didn’t resonate. It really depends on what state we are in to begin with. In fact, a higher state does not always work. There was something called the “BS” alarm that would go off when I said certain affirmations. (BS means “baloney sandwich” for you kids out there). In other words, you need to believe it.
If you don’t believe an affirmation that is positive, you can use a denial, or you can choose to tweak the affirmation by adding “choose” or “strive” like this:
- “I choose to respect myself, and for others to respect me”
- “It’s my choice to calmly welcome the most beautiful nutrients into my body”
- “I strive to be a person of action and someone who always loves exercise”
Sometimes affirmations can go too far. In the same way I jumped from a denial into an affirmation, we can jump into a super-affirmation. This is a visualization of the person you want to become. By repeating it over and over, you become this person in your mind over time, and then you will gradually begin to accept that identity and choose different actions.
- “I am overwhelmed with the oceans of love and respect given to me by my peers and the public”
- “My physique and my mind are perfect and eat only premium, perfect food to sustain me”
- “I am an unstoppable force of action and productivity, a perfectly powerful physical specimen”
What I hope you are seeing is that all these affirmations are in the same thread, but in a different part of the spectrum of positivity. The denial is in the far left, but as you go to the right, the negativity ceases to exist. If you go farther to the right, you obliterate all negativity with an unstoppable ocean of positivity.
Denials and Affirmations
What I discovered in Dynamic Thought was that the combination of Denials and Affirmations allows you to jump up into the next level of affirmation. The combination is extremely powerful.
- “I reject disrespectful behaviour, I respect myself and others respect me”
- “Junk food does