Question From A Reader:
Dear Mr Shafin
I am H***, this my second email to you. This time i just want to ask some question to you. I hope you are willing to answer my question.
I once read an article that says to change the sub-conscious mind we have to master meditation, affirmation, visualization and emotional anchor. And my question is about those things.
Since you have provided guidance on meditation so I’ll ask about affirmation, visualization, and emotional anchor.
My first question about the affirmation. How to make affirmations work?
The second question about visualization. What exercises should I do to master the creative visualization?
The third question about the emotional anchor. What exactly is emotional anchor and how to do it?
Those are the things I wanted to ask, I am waiting for a reply from you.
Answer From Shafin:
Good questions, all of them relate to the power of positive thinking. Let me get straight to it:
First, how to make affirmations work?
Simply put, affirmations are repeating a given sentence or an idea over and over in your mind or out loud. One of the most famous affirmations in history being: “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better” by the French psychologist Emile Coué.
The idea behind affirmations is based on the principle that any idea exclusively occupying the mind turns into reality, as long as the idea is within the realms of possibility. For example the father of affirmations himself (or at least the father of the most popular affirmation) Coué used to say that “curing our troubles require a change in our unconscious thought, which can only be achieved by using our imagination”.
I am personally not a big fan of how affirmations are done traditionally. Why? Because I like using leverage. Leverage means doing more and more with less and less. Saying over and over “I am rich! I am abundant! I am healthy!” seems to me like a waste of time; especially for people who are not rich, abundant and wealthy. It creates an emotional incongruence that has every chance of backfiring. I don’t believe in unrealistic positive thinking. And saying something over and over that you actually don’t believe to be true will only diminish all your faith on yourself and on the affirmations you are using.
So what do I do? I usually spend about 1 hour each day meditating and mind programming and I rely upon a combination of tools like hypnosis, meditation and yes also affirmation but in a different way. I use affirmations that are universally true and not just hopeful thoughts. My affirmations read like this:
“I now think about success, future goals and contribution to this world most of the time. Whenever I find myself indulging in negative thought patterns, I consciously decide to focus on what is good and exciting.”
Here is another one…
“I know the very first step for attaining success is being totally clear about what I want. Happiness is not a random event; happiness is the step by step realization of my chosen goals in life. I choose to be happy. I choose to know what I want from life. And I choose to gradually work towards attaining my goals everyday.”
(By the way, both of the above affirmations are from my Dream Manifestor program that is probably one of the most powerful mind programming tools ever released to public.)
So how to make the power of positive thinking work for you? Focus on a positive thought, but don’t try to fool your brain. Your conscious mind is way too weak to fool the entire psychosomatic system into something that is not even close to truth.
If you are sick and wish to be healthy, focus on universal health affirmations. An example could be: “as I exercise and eat healthy each day, my body heals faster and faster every day”.
If you are poor and wish to improve your financial status, focus on affirmations that are both true and goal oriented (as opposed fantastic hopes).
See the affirmations above? They are not just nice thoughts but embedded within them are real actions that can actually help you do things differently. That’s where the power of positive thinking comes from. Not saying happy words till the cows come home, but actually doing things differently as a result of having those positive thoughts. No matter how many “self help” products tell you your thoughts alone can change your reality, take this from me… unless you DO things differently, nothing ever will change.
The universe does not grow by thinking happy thoughts alone. It grows by evolution through constant adaptation and growth of its constituents. “Think happy thoughts inside but keep doing the same things over and over outside” is like “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Shakespeare said that by the way, not me). It’s a clever little marketing message that sells. Suddenly all lazy people around the world have new ideology to hold on to: think positive thoughts and that will solve all your problems. Of course positive thoughts are essential but it’s not sufficient. If you keep DOING what your have always DONE, you will keep getting the same results you have always gotten. You need to change your thoughts but more importantly you need to change your habits and actions.
If you are already nodding your head in agreement, do yourself a favor and read every word on the page below (even if you have read it before). What I am saying will make more sense then.
Okay next question…
What exercises should I do to master the creative visualization?
Visualize long term future, that’s the most valuable advice I can give you. The more you can look into the future while maintaining your grounding in the present, the more mature and intelligent your decision making will be.
Once again, I do not suggest you visualize unrealistic dreams coming true. I know, I know, they said in The Secret that if you visualize cheques, you will keep getting more cheques. Ermmm… here is a bigger secret: it works in the beginning, gets your hopes up, then stops working altogether and gets you supremely confused. Why it happens that way is a much more complex topic that I cannot accommodate here right now. But it does and therefore the whole wealth built with pure mind power remains exactly there: in the mind!
To put it simply: visualize realistic goals you can actually achieve within a reasonable amount of time. In other words, never visualize anything that you are not in control of.
Don’t visualize becoming a billionaire if you are a struggling poet; visualize getting your first poetry book published first.
Don’t visualize winning a lottery, ever, because there is nothing in the world you can do to raise your chances of winning (unless you have cracked the formula of course, in that case please let me know about it too… just kidding!).
Don’t visualize winning a marathon if you are overweight by 50kg and never ran a mile in your life; visualize instead reducing your weight by 20kg and jogging everyday for the next one month.
You get the drift right? Visualize what you can achieve. Don’t visualize anything that’s so big that you are pretty sure to fail. Never visualize anything that’s left to pure chance.
The third question about the emotional anchor. What exactly is emotional anchor and how to do it?
Emotions are the most addictive drugs known to man. Remember that. If you can anchor a positive emotion to an action, you will keep repeating that action automatically. Here’s what that means:
Emotions are nothing but release of hormones and other “neuro chemicals” in your brain and feelings are what your body feels due to the presence of those chemicals. If you have cortesol released, you feel stressed. If you have adrenaline, you feel the rush of flight or fight response. If you have dopamine, you feel the happiness of reward and achievement. If you have vasopressin, you feel territorial. Got it?
Now if you can anchor, that is to say connect a given action with a given emotion, and if that emotion is positive, you will keep repeating that action to experience that emotion over and over.
Let’s say you watch the TV and it’s your habit to also eat some chocolates when you watch the tele. Eating the chocolates releases dopamine in your brain and thereby anchors that state with watching television. If you repeat this a few times you actually literally get addicted. Why? Because, I told you, these happy brain drugs are highly addictive.
Usually we get a huge surge of dopamine release when we are close to someone we are in love with. Which explains why we get so “addicted” to them! When we have an orgasm, our brains are flooded with oxytocin, the bliss chemical, which is why we are so blissfully happy right after an orgasm.
Anyway, the bottom line being, if you can anchor a happy emotion with a productive action, you can very quickly turn it into a habit. How to do that?
First choose an action that you want to turn into a habit. Let’s say its jogging everyday. Now make sure right after you jog, or when you are jogging, you reward yourself with something highly pleasurable to you. This will anchor jogging with that pleasurable experience (if you do it right). The key here is to be consistent. If you reward yourself one day and stop for the next 1 week, then your anchor will break, remember that.
On the flip side, if you can keep repeating that action and rewarding yourself for 21-28 days consistently, it will very likely turn into a habit and you will be able to feel that happy emotion (that originally was triggered by the pleasurable reward) just by doing the productive action itself.
This in essence is the idea behind emotional anchoring (very close to classical conditioning).
That’s it for today. I hope you understand a bit more on the power of positive thinking and how to use it more effectively in your life. Do keep writing you guys! While I can’t answer everyone, as you can see, I do try 🙂
Have fun and keep smiling!
Shafin de Zane, CHT, MH, MNLP
Hypnotherapist, Author, Spiritual Coach