Chances are you’ve heard of affirmations, and you may have even used them from time-to-time: those cheery sayings that your therapist told you to say to yourself in the mirror every morning.
“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.”
“I believe in myself.”
“My body glows with inner beauty.”
Now, there are some people who can stand in front of the bathroom mirror, looking like hell because they just crawled out of bed, and still convincingly tell themselves that they radiate inner beauty. But if you’re like me, you’ve stood in front of the mirror trying to say these things while a loud internal voice full of doubt shouted you down.
You see, an affirmation is a description of the world (or your self) as you want it to be, not as your senses detect it at the moment. The idea is of course that belief shapes reality, which is absolutely true; by confidently affirming that the world is how you want it to be, you begin to make it that way.
The problem is that each of us has a part of our mind that psychologists call the “critical faculty,” though I like to call it the “bullsh*t detector.” It’s a very important part of our psyche. It acts like an internal fact-checker to keep us from getting taken in by every mountebank and con artist that stops by. When we were children, becoming an adult meant developing the internal fact-checker, so that when a kid on the playground said, “Hey, the teacher wants you to give me all your lunch money,” you kept your hands in your pockets until you could verify or disprove the claim. When you were a little older, you probably rolled your eyes at the thousandth schoolroom poster that told you to make your life better by having a positive attitude; if you’re like me, you could tell the teacher wanted you to have a good attitude to make her life better, not your life.
As children, we were trying hard to get a handle on simply perceiving objective reality, so we were busy building up a strong internal fact-checker. Some adults get so stuck in that mode that they never take the next step, that of creating reality.
So where does that leave us with affirmations? When you’re standing in front of the mirror feeling hideous, you say, “I radiate with inner beauty,” and your internal fact-checker replies, “Excuse me? Reality check! Will you look in the frickin’ mirror?”
Now some people have developed the skill of silencing the fact-checker at will, but most of us poor shmucks aren’t quite so evolved.
That’s where hypnosis comes in.
One of the many wonderful uses of hypnosis is to tell the fact-checker to take the day off; in fact, the critical factor pretty much slips into a nap as soon as someone goes into hypnosis. This is fantastic, because it allows the mind to accept new realities, which is the first step toward making them real. So there is a world of difference between staring at your mirror and saying that you are getting better, even though you don’t really believe it, and saying it in a hypnosis session where you really feel, see, and hear yourself improving.