Why positive affirmations are horsesh!t


Recently, I had the pleasure of an intimate evening with a renowned author, journalist and feminist. We spoke about gender equality and politics and how things have changed and remained the same over the past 50 years or so.

She’s an inspiring and successful woman that I know has made substantial progress for women in Australia, and hats off to her. However, in our conversation on the topic of workplace equality, I raised the idea of how women, generally speaking, lack confidence in comparison to men. That men are much more likely to apply for higher paying jobs and promotions than women, even if women are more qualified. We judge ourselves more harshly and enforce self-imposed limitations to our own success. So, I asked her what her position on that was and her response was this:

“Women need to be bold.”

Ok, great, very inspiring. I agree. But how do women become bold?

She said, “women just need to get over it and start being bold.”

This is what generally fucks me off about thought leaders. It’s just a thought, where’s the substance…if being bold was so easy, why aren’t we all doing it? How does one become bold?

We leave these presentations and seminars feeling all jacked up on the inspiring messages, thinking yeah, I’ll just ‘be bold’, simples. And maybe we will be for a time, but in most cases that shiny motivation, that juice we had in the tank disappears soon after. We return to the confines of our comfort zones because guess what…our logical minds (or egos if you will) come in and tell us all the reasons why we can’t be bold. We can will that shit until the cows come home, touting positive affirmations to ourselves “be bold” “be bold”. But what we’re really doing is just reinforcing that we’re the exact opposite…we’re fearful.

When we try to get away from something by going for its opposite it just reinforces our beliefs of how frightened we really are. Everything is on a scale:

Good – bad

Rich – poor

Hot – cold

Bold – cowardly

But where on the scale does hot become cold or rich become poor and so on? When we go for something in life we can’t create it from the same energy or vibration that we created it from, it creates an oscillating structure where we take one step forward and two steps backwards. So, the advice of “be bold” is ultimately not going to get us very far until we understand our unconscious beliefs that are associated with that concept.  

Creating affirmations for what we want is a nice idea, sure, and maybe they help some people. I’m all for having a positive mindset it’s a useful outlook for life and when we’re putting out positive vibes, we’ll receive positive vibes in return. But, when we’re at home just repeating positive affirmations as a strategy to change our lives and create happiness, we’re kidding ourselves. There are stronger forces at play and unless we bring those into conscious awareness and acknowledge that they are there, we will never really get what we want in life.

We need to go for the higher - that thing that matters more to us than trying to be bold…or not to be fearful. That thing that we’d stand up for despite the limitations that exist. Maybe it’s supporting our families. Maybe it’s advocating for a cause we feel strongly about. Maybe it’s pursuing a dream we hold dearly. These are the things that are going to create boldness, and effortlessly at that. What isn’t going to support us, is forcing ourselves to be bold through inauthentic affirmations. The psychological tension that repeating these will create is a far greater force and will trump the affirmations every time.  

I challenge us to ask ourselves: is what we are trying to forcefully manifest something we care deeply about or is it coming from a place of fear? What are we trying to get away from? If we’re trying to get away from something, which is generally the case, I challenge us to go deeper and ask ourselves what it is we’d truly love. Then commit to going for that instead…the things we’re forcing to manifest will unfold organically when we start choosing to go for things we’d love.