Why do affirmations work really well for some and not for others?

Affirmations work really well for some but not so effective for others. Why is this? Are they doing something differently or are some people just great at manifesting whatever they desire?

First of all, what is an affirmation? It is a positive statement that is used to achieve a desired result. It usually begins with a declaration in the present, such as "I am", followed by a desired outcome. We can use them to help us change our beliefs about ourselves and our current situation with the intention of achieving a desired goal or result. They can also be used to help us achieve a running goal or to improve any area of our lives in which we have unfulfilled desires.


The goal of an affirmation could be to change a bad habit, to attract something we want or to prevent something we don't want, such as a running injury. For example: "I have a strong and healthy body."

We may be creating undesirable conditions or situations in our lives with repetitive thoughts that we are not aware of.  Affirmations help us to become more aware of our thinking patterns and as a result, enables us to change undesirable, habitual thoughts. However, it is essential that we do not judge ourselves when we have negative thoughts. We only need to acknowledge them so they can be released.  

So why do affirmations work for some and not for others? To explore this matter further, lets first look at how the concept of positive affirmations work in helping us achieve our desired reality.

How do Affirmations Work?

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) plays an important role in the effectiveness of affirmations. It is the part of our brain that acts like an information filter. It lets information in that we want and filters out what we don't want based on our interests, goals, desires and needs. So our chosen affirmation needs to be about something that we are very interested in, something that is really important to us, and it must reflect our goals and desires. If it doesn't match this criteria, then our RAS will filter it out and it won't be effective. 

Our affirmations need to be about something we really care about. This is often why affirmations about money don't work. Most of us don't really care about money. We only care about what money can give us or how it can improve the conditions of our lives. So our affirmation needs to be focused on the desired final outcome, not how it is achieved. For example, the affirmation, "I have a beautiful new sports car" is more effective than, "I have a lot of money in my bank account" when a new sports car is what we really want.

Affirmations work runners

When we begin to repeat a new affirmation, it sends a message to our RAS. When the RAS recognizes this message as something that is important to us, it pays attention and our brain then begins to look for supporting evidence for this new belief and opportunities to bring about changes inline with this new desired belief.

Using a positive affirmation also helps stop negative dialogue that often occurs in our thoughts. Affirmations help us to become more present and more aware of our thought patterns.

When we become more mindful and are present in the moment, we can enjoy our experiences more fully. An affirmation that helps me stay present while running is: "I am here and the time is now." It helps me focus on where I am and that's where our power lies. If we are worrying about the distance ahead, the run becomes more difficult as we are not allowing ourselves to enjoy where we are. 

"The point of power is always in the present moment."

-- Louise L. Hay

Positive affirmations can also act as a placebo. If you truly believe in the power of your affirmation, it will work for you. As explained in the article, Be Your Own Placebo, if we can create the proper conditions in our mind and body to accept our affirmation as true, it will have the same affect as a placebo.

Affirmations Work on the Subconscious Level

Our subconscious mind can be accessed at the brain state of REM dream state. Theta brain wave frequencies are heard in this state in which our minds are more open to accept and receive new information. When affirmations are listened to using theta wave frequencies, they are much more effective as they are heard on the subconscious level.

In this state, we are capable of deep and profound learning, healing and growth whereby we can manifest our goals and deepest desires. Our subconscious mind is usually inaccessible to us while we are conscious, but while listening to a recording that includes theta brain wave frequencies, we can access and influence our subconscious in ways that we desire.

The 10 Most Powerful Affirmations for Runners is a collection of the most effective affirmations for achieving the goals and desires of runners, such as—to run injury free or improve running performance. To make these affirmations more effective, this program includes recordings with theta brain wave frequencies to help you achieve faster results. 

"The only limits in our life are those we impose on ourselves."

-- Bob Proctor

Reasons Affirmations Do Not Work

When affirmations do not work, we must look for the reason and correct it. If the affirmation is too outrageous for us to believe, either on a conscious or subconscious level, then it will not work for us. For example, "I am the faster runner in the world" would not be believable for most of us, but, "I am a strong and fast runner" is believable as it is possible for most runners to become stronger and faster. 

Affirmations need to contain some element of truth. So someone who is not a runner would probably not benefit from the above affirmation, but someone who has some experience as a runner would probably see improvements in their running.

Affirmations Work

Other reasons why affirmations may not be working:

  1. We simply repeat the phrase without any feeling--going through the motions without feeling any connection to the new idea.
  2. It is something that you don't really care about.
  3. It is something that you really don't want to do. For example, "I want to workout every day" will not work if you really don't want to workout everyday. However, if you said, "I want to want to workout everyday," it would help change your mindset and move you in the direction towards your desired goal.
  4. We don't repeat them often enough. 
  5. We don't acknowledge any negative thoughts that arise. Negative thoughts must be acknowledge without judgement so they can be released.

How to Ensure Your Affirmations Work

To ensure your affirmations work, choose one that is really important to you, and you believe the outcome is possible for you. When you repeat the statement, ensure that you are consciously and mindfully repeating it;  and notice any negative thoughts or arguments that come to mind. Notice these thoughts as just thoughts and don't give them any value. They are just thoughts and they are not true.  

The ideal conditions for working with affirmations involves a strong mind and body connection. Try these steps to help you create the ideal conditions: 

  1. Stop doing what you are doing and get present.
  2. Connect with your breath by noticing how it moves in and out of your body.
  3. State your affirmation out loud or quietly in your mind or listen to it in a recording. When mentally saying the affirmation or listening to a recording of it, use your breath to help you become more in tune with the statement. Inhale during the first part, i.e. "I am." and exhale on the desired outcome, i.e. "getting faster."
  4. Notice if anything comes up for you. If you are receiving negative thoughts, just notice them without judgement.
  5. Continue to work with your affirmation or affirmations. Eventually  negative thoughts will be dropped and the affirmation will become the basis for your new, positive beliefs.

Creating a recording of your affirmation or affirmations has numerous benefits. It is convenient as it allows you to listen to them while doing other things, such as driving, doing chores, running, while relaxing, etc. Also, listening to affirmations while you are relaxing or before falling asleep has an added advantage. Being in a relaxed state, your subconscious mind is in a more receptive state to receive these positive messages and absorb them on a deeper level.

Theta brain wave recordings have the extra advantage of accessing and influencing our powerful subconscious state, which is normally inaccessible to us while we are awake. They help form a positive image in our subconscious mind, creating and attracting our desired outcome.

Affirmations are powerful and can work for everyone but they must be done properly. Do you have an affirmation that works well for you? Please share them in the comments below.

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