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Why Affirmations Can Make Everything Worse. And What to Do About It.

photo: NeoGaboX on flickr

Affirmations may seem all light and fluffy, but they’re not. In fact, I think they should come with a warning label.

You heard me right. A warning label.

Anyone who starts using affirmations – positive, present-tense statements designed to train one’s consciousness in a specific direction – should be cautioned about what they’re getting into.

What would such a warning label say? I’m glad you asked!

It would say something like this:

Danger! The use of affirmations can cause extreme shifts in the reality of the user. Side effects include temporary discontent and acute paradigm shifts. Prolonged use of affirmations can cause old beliefs to surface and wreak havoc in virtually every area of existence.

In other words, affirmations are not for wimps.

photo: greg westfall on flickr

I’ve been using affirmations for decades. I started in the early 80’s when I read Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life. Little did I know at the time, Louise Hay got her start in what’s now called the Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL).

CSL teaches a spiritual practice called affirmative prayer. This form of prayer puts affirmative statements in the framework of alignment with the Divine. In other words, you plug into the Infinite, and then you say your affirmations.

It’s a powerful way to rearrange your consciousness.

I’ve been using this practice for over five years now. Affirmative prayer is like affirmations on steroids. But without the acne and bursts of anger.

photo: Seth Woodworth on flickr

I’ve used this form of prayer to affect every area of my life – health, relationships, vocation, prosperity, and alignment with the Divine. But, like I stated above, such work comes with a price.

The use of affirmative thinking has a tendency to flush out what’s not wanted.

It’s like cleaning a dirty, greasy cooking pan. In the process of getting the pan clean, all the grimy, yucky gunk has to come to the surface to be washed away.

It’s not pretty, but it’s part of the process.

photo: (F)oxymoron on flickr

In my case, a lot of the gunk was in the area of intimate relationships. This was a part of my life that was the most baffling and problematic to me.

Seven years ago, I started affirming a new relationship.

I had spent four years healing from a painful breakup and was finally ready to let in someone new. I started envisioning a new relationship as part of my daily affirmative prayer.

And guess what?

It started to work! Right away!

Except not how you think.

All my old, gunky thoughts about relationships started to manifest. They started to manifest in the form of real, actual interactions with real, actual people.

Like the straight, married woman I met at a work conference who flirted with me shamelessly, then ran away the minute I tried to talk with her about it. This experience prompted me to add the word “available” to my affirmative prayer.

And then there was the beautiful, confident lesbian who sparked my fancy. Unfortunately, she also sparked the fancy of every lesbian within a fifty-mile radius. I added “monogamous” to my affirmative prayer.

Oh, and let’s not forget my crush on a gay guy. This seriously stretched my already-flexible sense of gender identity and sexual orientation. I took out the “she” in my daily prayer, just to remain open to whomever the Universe had in mind for me.

After four years of weeding through the external manifestations of my limited beliefs about relationships, I met Melissa. Finally, someone who was completely in alignment with my affirmative prayer!

photo: Michael Corsentino

But it didn’t happen overnight. Oh no. It took four years of confronting and releasing my old beliefs until I was ready to be in the relationship of my dreams.

So for those of you who are frustrated that your affirmations and prayers aren’t manifesting right away, let me say this:

Don’t give up!

photo: Jonny Hughes on flickr

The fact that everything falls apart when you start saying affirmations doesn’t mean they’re not working. It means they ARE working.

If you start to attract exactly the opposite of what you want, that’s just the dirty, gunky stuff at the bottom of the pan, coming up to be cleared away.

Welcome it. Learn from it. And then let it go!

Affirmations and affirmative prayer are powerful tools. What’s important is knowing how to channel and appreciate this power.

Recognizing the gunk is a key part of this process. When you can do that, you can clear away your old patterns and live a life of joy.

So don’t stop praying and affirming!

Take the information you’re getting from the gunky manifestations and use it to alter your affirmations to be more in alignment with what you want.

The Divine has your back! Always.

Indeed, a powerful part of any affirmative practice is to claim a clear connection with Spirit. That way, you’re always open to guidance and support, no matter what’s happening.

Even if it’s gunky.

So keep praying and affirming! Just don’t forget the dishwashing soap!

photo: peapod labs on flickr

What’s your experience with affirmations and/or affirmative prayer? How have you dealt with the gunk?

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17 Responses to Why Affirmations Can Make Everything Worse. And What to Do About It.

  1. ChaChaRona June 19, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    MZ Z, YOU ARE JUST TOOO FUN AND SOOO RIGHT ON…I’m giving thanks that I have a double-sink, a dishwasher (me), a washtub, a swimming pool, our ocean…get the picture…heehee….XO’S…Sharona

    • Z Egloff June 20, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Hi ChaChaRona!!

      It sounds like you are prepared!! I love the image of the ocean as a big cleansing tub. No way all the gunk can hang around with that much cleaning capacity!! Have fun! 😉


  2. Jo Lauer June 19, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Smiling as I read your post. I opened a fortune cookie the other night after dinner with friends. It read: A big fortune will descend upon you this year. Oh, YEA! I thought, optimistically. This is a great affirmation. Then that niggling, pragmatic voice inside said, “Don’t get too excited. You could be hit by a Brinks truck, you know.”

    So, getting out my soap, and preparing to clean up any gunk that may need to be shed, I re-affirmed: I am open to great fortune that will positively enhance my life. Then, I added: This, or something better.

    • Z Egloff June 20, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      Hi Jo,

      I affirm your great fortune as well!! Glad you have your soap handy.

      Hey, maybe the Brinks truck will come after all. But without any collision, just cash! :)


  3. Dianne Lloyd June 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Of course you know that GUNK is an actual product….used for cleaning engines to iimprove theri performance….!

    I am liking the metaphor that helps make politive affimations….at least the treatment.kind… into a spiritual gunk remover….so that affirmative prayer becomes a kind of Spritual GUNK.

    Let’s market it….the World would be a better place….it could bring a fortune.
    At the minimum…we would all be fortunate.

    Thanks again…

    • Z Egloff June 20, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      Hi Dianne,

      Nice: A Spiritual GUNK! I can just see it as an infomercial on late-night TV. Like the Ginzu knife, but with the power to create world peace!! :)


  4. Jill Shinn June 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Hi Z, this is great. I love the gunk image. that’s exactly how it is, and we never expect it to be that way. We always think that things will go from so-so to fabulous, or that they SHOULD. It’s hard to remember that there’s a process of cleansing and clearing involved. the gunk doesn’t just dissolve like in those dish washing liquid commercials. (I wish it did…)

    • Z Egloff June 20, 2012 at 9:46 am #

      Hi Jill,

      The mind is a pesky place, isn’t it? We have all these ideas about how things “should” be. And then we’re unhappy because of the “shoulds,” when really, everything is just fine. Even if it’s gunky sometimes.

      I think that part of the challenge with affirmations is that they start to take us to that gunk-free place, which paradoxically brings up the gunk. But then everything is Spirit, including the gunk. It’s a process. :)


  5. Susan June 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Ah yes, the gunk that surfaces so it can be cleared away. Yuck. I love your line that when it surfaces it means that your prayers ARE working – great reminder. All those ideals of sweetness and light as soon as you start to meditate or whatever… Geez…The desire for comfort and/or perfection at all moments is a serious hindrance to personal growth! Thanks for being a great weekly bit of inspiration plus laughs.

    • Z Egloff June 22, 2012 at 11:37 am #

      Hi Susan,

      Yes, those ideas of sweetness and light can be a big hindrance to the sweetness and light. Paradoxically enough. And embracing the gunk seems to be part of it. I’m happy to hear from you again! Send my love to the family,


  6. River June 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Hey there Z!

    Got behind in my email and when I caught up I found this jewel (or would that be bar of soap) in my inbox.

    Dang if the Universe isn’t always saying Yes! I dared to affirm a new life. Whew 2000 miles later, a new gang of sistahs and new love in my life. *pant pant pant* I need to catch my breath!

    Just wanting to know what the next affirmation is going to be *ducking behind the couch* because the last one was a doozy! Glad I have my soap on a rope…need something to hold onto during the big change.

    • Z Egloff July 2, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Hi River,

      Nothing better than getting a bar of soap in your inbox!! 😉

      Congratulations on your new crew and your new love! I always enjoy hearing about the positive “results” of affirmations. And I look forward to hearing about the next big wave of change in your life. It’s gonna be goooood! :)



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