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What belief can do it beyond belief. Feed your dreams. Starve your doubts.
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One of the biggest knocks critics have against affirmations is that they encourage unrealistic thinking.
It is ridiculous, they say, to encourage a sixth grader who can barely play "Hot Crossed Buns" on the saxophone to use an affirmation like, "I am a world-class saxophone player". That's just delusional, they argue, to have a child believing something so out of touch with reality.
I absolutely agree!
Yes. The critics are correct. This affirmation is completely unrealistic for any sixth grader who believes it is unrealistic.
They are also correct that a smart sixth grader is probably going to doubt the affirmation at some point. Sooner or later the sixth grader using this affirmation may have the thought, "I can't even play 'Hot Crossed Buns'. I'm not a world class saxophone player."
These two pieces of information do not match up. The sixth grader, like most human beings, will search for a way to make the ideas congruent. When this happens it is decision time for the sixth grader and his or her dream of being a world-class saxophonist.
Whether they know it or not the critics are citing and the sixth grader is experiencing a well-known psychological phenomenon called cognitive dissonance.
This theory states that when we hold two incongruent pieces of knowledge in our minds there is a very strong psychological impulse to bring the two conflicting thoughts into agreement.
The idea being that our sixth grader cannot hold the thought, "I can't even play 'Hot Crossed Buns'," in his or her mind while at the same time holding the idea, "I am a world class saxophone player."
The classic example is the mother on the news who cannot reconcile the baby she brought into the world with the possibility that he may have committed a crime. So, she believes in his innocence even against overwhelming evidence.
Now, here is where the critics' logic fails. They assume, I suppose, that the only option for this newly self-aware sixth grader is to stop using this unrealistic affirmation and stop pursuing such lofty and unrealistic dreams. Basically, "Give it up, kid, there's no chance."
The cognitive dissonance theorists tell us that there are actually three options (besides "getting real") open to resolve this dilemma.
People are people. Some days we believe in our dreams fervently and other days we completely lose sight of them. That's not being negative that's just being human. The path is not lost by one moment of doubt.
This affirmation may or may not be appropriate for the sixth grader in question. It depends on how he or she resolves the cognitive dissonance associated with it.
If he or she cannot come to terms with the disparity, then an affirmation like "I am becoming a world class saxophone player" or "I am a better saxophone player every day" may be more acceptable and reduce the cognitive dissonance.
Conversely, the previous affirmation is ideal for a college student majoring in music performance on the saxophone. That person has already put in many years and is now an expert on the instrument. He or she may be planning a career playing the saxophone. That college student certainly can realistically aspire to becoming a world-class sax player.
Here is what I have learned from more than 17 years experience working with affirmations. There really are two classes of affirmations - aspirational and incremental.
Aspirational affirmations are your "big thinking" affirmations. They are the ones that remind you that something far greater than right now lies within you. That knowing is not for anyone to label as delusional or unrealistic. It depends on you and your belief.
Incremental affirmations are affirmations that are more finely tuned. They focus on specifics and immediate steps. They are the trees to the aspirational affirmations' forest.
In my view, they are both part of a healthy affirmation diet. Just like protein and calcium serve two different but beneficial roles in the body. Both kinds of affirmations add value to your over all growth. One is today's weather forecast and the other is the long range forecast.
Let me illustrate the difference with a couple examples.
A high school quarterback with big dreams might use both of the following affirmations:
Aspirational: "I am the next John Elway."
Incremental: "My completion percentage is improving each and every game."
A person trying to climb out of depression might use both of the following affirmations:
Aspirational: "I am completely happy with all aspects of my life." Incremental: "Today I am putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward."
A person focusing on creating a better financial future might use both of the following affirmations:
Aspirational: "My million dollar idea is on its way to me right now."
Incremental: "Today I am paying my bills on time."
It's not about being unrealistic. It's about using the very real power of your thoughts to support your immediate goals and your long term dreams.
So, if you are a sixth grade saxophone player with a passion to be the world's greatest saxophonist, I say go for it! One thing is for sure. None of your critics will be there to beat you out!
Be peaceful Be prosperous!
Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot. He's spent 25 years studying human motivation. He's also the author of Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation - order your signed copy today at AATrilogy.com. He advocates for the potential of the human race. He's life-long history buff and holds a B.S. in History Education. He's always been fascinated by alternative views of history.
Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation is turning heads and opening minds. Humanity's past is checkered, secret, and dangerous.
White House Correspondent Maria Love is on to the story of her life and with the help of an Anunnaki leaders seeks to unravel and reveal history's biggest conspiracy. The Awakening has begun!