Have you heard?
Have you heard about affirmations yet? Yes…. maybe…. no? First, let’s establish what affirmations are. Affirmations are positive phrases or statements that speak to your present state of being or state of mind. Here are some examples:
- My failures make me a better person
- I am driven by passion and purpose
- Success and growth come easily to me
What’s the point?
So what is the point of saying an affirmation? This is the part that I was skeptical of when I first started learning about affirmations. I hear a lot in our culture about karma and “the universe”. Philosophies such as “if you put out positive, the universe will bring positive back to you.”
Seen memes like this one before??
I actually don’t believe that philosophy. Not that positive CAN’T reap positive. Even the Bible asserts in multiple places the reality of sowing and reaping. (2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”)
Jesus & reaping?
However, when you put the idea of reaping in the full context of the Bible, you have to also integrate the reality that reaping may not look the way you expect AND that reaping might not refer to life this side of death. Would you say that Jesus reaped what he sowed? He sowed justice, mercy & compassion, righteousness, and an unwavering focus on Truth. Did these things come back to him by the Universe? Does being put to death for heresies when he was actually speaking truth and wisdom seem like reaping? Or how about the mercy that he showed the woman who was found to be having an affair with a married man. His actions precipitated her freedom and forgiveness rather than being stoned to death. Did he then reap compassion, freedom and forgiveness? That would be a solid “no”. Rather, he was crucified.
Why does this matter?
Given all of that, if we speak “positively”, what is that supposed to do for us if the “universe” isn’t going to reliably favor or reward us? Why does that matter today?
2 Reasons it matters
That answer, for me, lies best in two perspectives. The first perspective is that the condition of our heart matters.
It is ultimately where our motivations and actions come from. This is what matters most to God, too. 2 Samuel demonstrates this by the statement from God to Samuel as he was trying to discern which of Jesse’s son would be chosen as future King, “Do not look on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him. For man does not see as God sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” In my next blog, I will unpack this first perspective more.
The second perspective can be found in the research on our brains and our behaviors. The fancy term is called “neural plasticity”. It is the scientific discovery that our actions have a REAL and MEASURABLE impact on our brains. Have you ever considered that “thoughts” ARE actually “actions” to the brain? When we think about things like “New Years Resolutions” and goal setting, we rarely consider a change in thought to be a sufficient resolution or goal. It might cross our mind that we’d like to be less jealous or more grateful, but it can really be hard to operationalize and determine a measurable goal related to our thoughts. So we end up developing goals that are more outward. I think this implicitly leads us to discount the importance of our thoughts and how influential they actually are. In my next blog, I will also unpack this more for you.
This was just an introduction to the idea of “affirmations” and a couple reasons why they might actually be beneficial. Stay tuned as I expound more on this in the next few blogs, and in the meantime, feel free to dig around yourself and share with us what you find!!