You might say, “I have big dreams, but they are hard to believe right now. When I use an affirmation in support of those dreams my mind tells me my affirmation is impossible.”
That rejection of your big dream by your logical mind is called cognitive dissonance in psychological circles. Cognitive dissonance is your natural reaction when a thought or an idea does not match your perception of how the world operates.
You see this concept at play in the mother of an accused murderer. When that mother is interviewed she cannot reconcile her image of her baby boy with that of a murderer. Denial sets in and she rejects the accusation. Her mind searches for a more comfortable belief.
In your every day goal/dream setting, you face a similar challenge.
Let’s say you are a technical writer for a manufacturing company. In your spare time, you are working on the great American novel. “One day,” you dream, “I want to be land on the New York Times Bestseller List.” You can use an affirmation like:
“I am a New York Times Bestseller List author.”
I would call this an aspirational affirmation for the writer in question. Aspirational affirmations are effective, if you can overcome the cognitive dissonance. They are about embodying your dream long before you arrive – “fake it until you make it'”
However, many, if not most, people get hung up right there. Your logical mind quite rightly reminds you that you are not a best-selling author and your thinking takes a negative turn instead of the positive turn the affirmation was intended to provide.
Many people find this hard to overcome. Nothing causes more people to try and quit with affirmations than cognitive dissonance. It is a real challenge.
You could use a future tense affirmation such as:
“I will be a New York Times Bestseller List author.”
However, this violates another basic tenet of affirmations – that they are most powerful when phrased in the present tense. Putting an affirmation in future tense steals the power from it. The key to changing your thinking is to affirm that something is happening right now.
This solution is what I call incremental affirmations.
Incremental affirmations are the affirmations you use in the early stages of your journey towards your big dream. They simultaneously place the affirmation in the present tense, while scaling it to believability. The focus is on the same goal and there is an ever-important impetus on action happening now.
Incremental affirmations are created by using words like “on my way” or “in the process of becoming”. These phrases imply that I am taking all the necessary steps and doing all the necessary work to reach for my dream, while acknowledging that I am not yet there.
So, our friend the technical writer with the small book and the big dreams can succeed with an affirmation like:
“I am on my way to becoming a New York Times Bestselling author.”
Follow your bliss! Experience your bliss! Become your bliss!
Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot and focuses on empowering minds to think positively, achieve goals, and live dreams. He is author of the ebook The Power to Be You and the forthcoming The Power to Be You 2.
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