In our first article on self confidence we looked at the dictionary definition, part of which was as follows:
“Realistic confidence in one’s own judgement, ability, power”.
We then looked at how our self-talk can impact our self-confidence. Today, I’d like to look in more detail at a particular part of our self-talk. It is something which I have only recently come across, although it is a phenomenon which has been around for some time.
Some years ago, when I was first looking to improve my own self-confidence at work, a careers coach I approached on the subject advised, as part of an overall program of work, to write down three affirmations relating to my self-confidence. I was to repeat these out loud, several times over, as least twice a day. I was impressed – a prescription for improved self-confidence, what a great idea. And it sounded relatively easy.
What happened when I repeated my phrases? Well, there was part of me saying ‘You are a strong, confident woman, etc ‘, but as I repeated the sentences, there was another part of me saying ‘Actually, I think you’ll find you’re not strong or confident – stop saying you are’. Affirmations did not work for me at all. What they actually did was highlight – to me – that I was the very opposite. Why was this?
The reason is very simple – our unconscious mind already has deeply rooted values and beliefs in place. When we use our conscious mind and try to contradict these values our unconscious mind points out the paradox. This is why affirmations don’t always work – if the affirmation is in direct contrast to the underlying belief, the unconscious mind simply won’t accept it, because it believes that affirmation is not true.
I recently came across something called Afformations. An afformation is different to an affirmation. An affirmation is a statement. It is either true of false. Something the unconscious mind can therefore verify against its own beliefs and reject.
An afformation is a question. It’s an unanswered conundrum, a puzzle, an open loop. And that’s the beauty of an afformation.
The unconscious mind likes closure.
Because it is an open loop – a question – the unconscious mind does not reject an afformation. It seeks to answer the question the afformation is asking. And in answering that question, it provides itself with the belief that the afformation is true.
For example, an affirmation would go something like this. ‘I have financial freedom.’ The unconscious mind would be able to verify this is not actually the case and reject that statement.
An afformation would go something like this. ‘How have I been able to become debt-free so quickly?’ The unconscious mind now has an open loop, so it will start working to provide the answers. It therefore has to assume that at some time in the future you will be debt-free, in order for it to be able to answer the question.
So try this simple exercise to help with your own self-confidence issues.
Write down ten afformations – read them every day, morning and night, and notice the results you get. The reason for reading the afformations first and last thing is that these are the times when we are closest to the trance state in which we can access our unconscious mind’s potential – the states closest to that period between waking and sleeping.