Have you ever been told to just adopt a positive attitude?
Practice positive affirmations?
Shift your thinking to a new, more empowering belief?
If so, how did that work for you?
If you’re anything like me, you tried to think positive thoughts and adopt more productive beliefs but it was only through sheer force of will that you managed to wrestle with the practice for even a short while. Sooner or later your insides sounded the alarms and you finally thought (or maybe even yelled it out loud) – “This is such BS, I don’t feel young, thin, and rich one freaking bit!” (or whatever you were attempting to affirm). And so you went back to the cynicism and self-defeating patterns feeling just a little worse about yourself than you did when you started.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times this happened to me. There was a time in the past when if one more person told me I just needed to have a positive attitude about things that I could have laid them out flat. It’s not because I was unwilling to change nor was it because a positive attitude isn’t beneficial. It’s because the whole positive affirmation and create a new belief thing is only half the story. Throwing ice cream on top of poop doesn’t negate the fact that there is poop there and that if you eat your way through the ice cream…well, you know… you won’t be loving that next spoonful!
That is why when I am doing belief work and shifting thoughts and behaviors that are not serving me, I always apply the BS test to it. I ask my clients to do the same when I work with them. Because no matter how powerful a tool you use to transform your beliefs, if you can’t buy-in to the next step, more empowering belief on your path, you only set yourself up for failure. You can’t force an attitude change and you certainly can’t sustain it. No matter how much you tell yourself something different, if you are feeling in your bones that it is a bunch of crap, it isn’t going to work.
What needs to happen to make a positive change stick are three things:
1) Identify what is really going on and the source of that belief. Do whatever healing work is necessary to address any pain or hurt associated with it so you can clear a path forward.
2) Articulate a new, more empowering belief that is the very next best step for you. Apply the BS test to make sure it feels authentic in your bones (it may feel like a stretch because it is new to you and you may have to “fake it till you make it”, but YOU shouldn’t feel like a fake.). In other words you’re not likely to make the leap from “I’m $50,000 in debt and bad with money to I’m a wildly abundant millionaire who is financially savvy” in one jump. It would set the BS alarms off far and wide and sabotage your ability to move forward at all. However you might be able to more effectively live into a new belief like “I am learning and actively becoming a good steward of my money.”
3) Start gathering evidence to support this new way of thinking and being. Start living it in the way you can right now. You only believe what you believe because it has been reinforced as true for you. If you don’t like what you’re experiencing, now is the time to create a new reality.
Positive affirmations can and do work as long as they are aligned with who you are and are capable of being. With a willingness and even a small opening to something new you can begin to shed the beliefs that are holding you back without all the BS.