The Power of Affirmations

Updated: Feb 22



“Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.”

Émile Coué


This famous statement was given to us by Émile Coué back in the 19th century. Living in Troyes France, he owned and operated an Apothecary from 1882 until 1910. Intrigued by the concept of hypnotherapy, he studied under French physicians Ambroise-Auguste Liébeau and Hippolyte Bernheim, both champions of hypnosis as a method of healing.


This study of psychotherapy introduced the concept of autosuggestion, which Coué incorporated into his own practice. When he dispensed medication, he included a positive message and encouraged his customers to repeat them often, mantra-like, throughout their day. The affirmation noted above was his default, considering it a prescription for all and every ailment.


Coué observed that when a person combined taking their medication while using positive autosuggestion, they had better results than those who did not. This strengthened his resolve that each of us has the power to cure themselves. This technique of autosuggestion for self-healing is often referred to as Couéism or the Coué Method. However, Coué refused to take credit, and continually stressed that he was not a healer, but one who taught others to heal themselves.


“You have in yourself the instrument of your cure.”


Coué proposed that humans are controlled by the unconscious mind. The goal, therefore, is to become the one in charge, by changing the way we think. So after Coué retired, he moved to Nancy and in 1913 founded The Lorraine Society of Applied Psychology alongside his wife. Here he honed his method, helping people across the globe for the next sixteen years until his death in 1926.


“The power of thought, of idea,

is incommensurable, is immeasurable.

The world is dominated by thought.

The human being individually is also entirely governed

by his own thoughts, good or bad.

The powerful action of the mind over the body,

which explains the effect of suggestion,

was well known to the great thinkers of the Middle Ages,

whose vigorous intelligence embraced the sum of human knowledge.”

Émile Coué, from his book Autosuggestion: My Method


Coué claimed his method to be effective, superseding willpower, which he stated only served to strengthen negative ideas in your mind. Instead, his approach was to change the idea itself; changing “I can’t” to “I can”, or “I’ll never be”, to “I am”.


“Contrary to the generally accepted theory

the will is not the invisible force it is claimed to be;

In fact, whenever imagination and will come into conflict

it is always imagination that triumphs.

Try to do something while you are repeating:

“I cannot do it,” and you will see this truth confirmed.

The mere idea of inability to accomplish a thing paralyzes the willpower.” – Émile Coué, from his book Autosuggestion: My Method


In addition to repeating positive mantra-like declarations, Coué strongly encouraged his patients to imagine the end result upon reaching their goals. It was the consistent reiteration of this combination which would convince the mind that it was the truth, eventually becoming a part of the person's subconscious. Coué didn't just pronounce autosuggestion as successful, he also asserted it was easy.


Our subconscious is subjected daily, to a constant stream of adverse communication through the channels of gossip, media, news, email, advertisements, and the list goes on. These messages can become extremely influential, and as a result affirmations run incessantly amuck through our heads whether we want them to or not. And are they in our best interest? Pay attention and listen to your thoughts. Are they positive? “You’ve got this”, “This shirt looks great on me”, “I’m so blessed.” Or negative? “I hate my job”, “I’m broke”, “I’m so tired”. When thoughts are unproductive or unsupportive, maybe even harmful, then more than likely they negatively impact your life. Does it therefore not make perfect sense that when they are constructive, optimistic, and healthy, that there is a positive impact on your life?


Even though Coué is considered the father of modern-day affirmations, they aren't knew. As he said, they’ve been around for centuries. In its simplest form, autosuggestion is a tool to help regulate your mind. To take your thoughts from the subconscious/unconscious to the conscious, so it can begin to work with you and not against you. When affirmations are positive, you begin to feel better about yourself. You’re lighter, happier, and you see it in your behavior and the way you interact with those around you. You smile more, stand taller, open doors for strangers, and say: “good morning”.


To begin incorporating affirmations into your daily routine, consider the following seven steps:

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts and how you speak to others. What do you say to your peers, your friends, yourself?

  2. Choose one area in your life in which you wish to see change. Are you always running late, and it stressed you out? Do you find yourself in grab-and-go situations instead of sitting down to a home-made meal?

  3. Create and write out an affirmation of how you wish to change that area in your life. Always state it in the positive and in the present tense. Not “I am never late”, but “I always reach my destination with time to spare.” Although the most amazing ideas around affirmations are readily available on websites such as Pinterest, there is great value in coming up with your own. The affirmation becomes clear, intentional, and most important, personal.

  4. As you say it, support it by visualizing the new and improved version of what it is now. You arrive and glance at your watch noting you’re five minutes early. You arrive at your office carefree, not a hair out of place, even stopping to chat briefly with a colleague on your way to your desk. Your drive to work is calm as you listen to your favorite podcast, glancing down to see a home-made lunch on the passenger seat next to you.

  5. Repeat your affirmation frequently throughout the day. Make it your screensaver, create a collage, use sticky notes, and attach them to your bathroom mirror, the fridge and in your car. If you are in a situation where you are unable to leave these visual reminders, then write it out on a piece of paper and carry it with you. Or create a kinesthetic clue by using a crystal, shell, or feather. Whatever reminds you of your affirmation.

  6. Understand that the universe has a wisdom beyond our understanding. If you’re affirmation is a specific object, opportunity, or event, remember to say, “This or something better”, so you’re not limited to your own perspective. “Every day I go to work in the corner office in my building. This or something better.”

  7. Be patient, releasing the ‘hows’ and the ‘whens’. Trust that all will come into being as it should.

In total, Coué wrote four books on this subject, and even a hundred years later, they remain in print. His work was the basis of future self-help gurus such as Napoleon Hill and Norman Vincent Peale, among others. Are affirmations a cure for all that ails you? I would beg to differ. However, they are a simple yet impactful tool to enhance your life for the better. So, I'm all in. Using positive affirmations in your daily life is one way to help take control back from the monkey mind, so that YOU are the biggest influencer when it comes to your thoughts.

 


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