Affirmations (New Age)
Affirmations in New Thought and New Age terminology refer primarily to the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that "a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything." More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to one's self and written down frequently. For an affirmation to be effective, it needs to be present tense, positive, personal and specific.
The New Thought movement is not part of New Age but does share certain practices. This concept has grown popular due to Rhonda Byrne's The Secret (also a 2006 film) These books and teachers express similar ideas to Napoleon Hill's classic book Think and Grow Rich. Byrne was inspired in particular by New Thought pioneer Wallace D. Wattles' 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich. Affirmations are also referred to in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), Neuro Associative Conditioning "NAC" as popularized by Anthony Robbins, and hypnosis.
A related belief is that a certain critical mass of people with a highly spiritual consciousness will bring about a sudden change in the whole population. And that humans have a responsibility to take part in positive creative activity and to work to heal ourselves, each other and the Earth.
In 1984 Louise Hay a Religious Science Practitioner published You Can Heal Your Life, a guide to changing thoughts and beliefs. Hay's affirmations are designed to help the user re-program their thought patterns, the intention being that harmful underlying beliefs which Hay believes psychologically support illness will be replaced with healing beliefs, and thus remove a barrier to healing.
New Age affirmations come in different forms, spiritual talks, lectures, classes, Affirmative Images, Affirmative Words, Affirmative Videos or just mantra chants. Proponents of New Age affirmations say that it is a creative art made by creative beings, and that with our thoughts, desires and emotions, we create our world.
According to Brendan Baker, Founder of The Start of Happiness, affirmations work best when they encompass three elements: 1. Visualisation of the affirmation in your life; 2. Feeling the affirmation in your physiology; and 3. Vocalizing the affirmation in a way that you are already congruent with that affirmation.
According to Rhonda Britten, affirmations work best when combined with acknowledgements because the acknowledgements build up a backlog of results in one's mind to prove that one can do what one is affirming. So, for example, the acknowledgement "I bought a good pair of sneakers and some gym clothes" could complement the affirmation "I can reach my goal of losing 20 pounds." The goal is to focus on steps one has taken toward accomplishing one's goals rather than criticizing oneself for what one hasn't yet accomplished, or could theoretically have accomplished but didn't.
It was reported in 2009 that a study had found Positive affirmation to have a detrimental effect on those who need it the most, because people with low self-esteem will perceive the affirmation as so unbelievable that it strengthens their negative mindset. Those who already have high self-esteem feel slightly better, and those who don't will feel worse than if they had been allowed negative thoughts. When people with high self-esteem uses positive affirmation, it acts as a buffer for constructive criticism that goes against the self-perception, and when people with low self-esteem uses positive affirmation, it rings untrue and therefore brings to mind exactly how they are not successful, loved, etc.
However, the use of self-affirmations, which involves writing about one's core values rather than repeating a positive self-statement, can improve performance under stress. A 2014 article from Stanford University finds many positive results from value-based self-affirmations.
- Supercharged Affirmations The Salem New Age Center, Salem Massachusetts USA . Accessed August 2007.
- Affirmation Class May 2007.
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- Accepting Total and Complete Responsibility: New Age NeoFeminist Violence against Sethna Feminism Psychology.1992; 2: pages 113–119
- Hay, Louise (1984). You Can Heal Your Life. Carlsbad, California: Hay House Inc. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-937611-01-2.
- The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham,By (Spirit) Abraham, Abraham, Esther Hicks, Jerry Hicks,Published by Hay House, 2006,ISBN 1-4019-1227-3, ISBN 978-1-4019-1227-7
- Various forms of New Age Affirmations Everyday Affirmations Organisation. Accessed February 2013.
-  Affirmations and Visualizations: The Ultimate Secret by Sakshi Chetana, Inner Light Publishers, 2012, ISBK 978-938-2123-15-6.
- Britten, Rhonda. "No Beating Yourself Up". Fearless Living. p. 232.
-  Kline, K. (n.d.). Association for Psychological Science. Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved April 13, 2014, from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/media/releases/2009/wood.cfm
- The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention, Geoffrey L. Cohen and David K. Sherman. Found online at https://ed.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/annurev-psych-psychology_of_change_final_e2.pdf.