Positive Affirmations Are a Waste of Time!!

by CHERYL GNAD on February 19, 2014

 Positive Affirmation - I have great inner strength.

Positive Affirmations Are a Waste of Time!!  

Find Out Why and How To Actually Make Them Work For You.

“BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. But with sound self-confidence you can succeed.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

We’ve heard of the The Secret, and the Law of Attraction and about saying positive affirmations. For many it is too bizarre! After all, you’ve dreamed of having a different boss or job, owning a new home, etc, and nothing has changed! It’s a bunch of hogwash! Right? Well, I was skeptical, too. Yet, I have friends that are LIVING their dreams! They follow the Positive Thinking way of life. They say it works! So I asked my psycho-therapist friend, “Does positive affirmations work?”  She says “mostly no”, but they do have a place. Now I was really confused.

With further discussion with her and others about positive affirmation and thinking, and with some research (trust me, this is not a doctorate thesis!), I’ve found some things that might shed some light on this topic.

But What If?

We have to understand how our minds work. Self-talk is good and does help us to move into certain directions “in the moment” of hesitation, and we do it all of the time. But positive self-talk won’t change a habit. THAT is what makes The Law of Attraction, Positive Affirmations, Thinking Positive, The Secret seem out of reach for many, many people. There is an equally acting mechanism in our brain that might foil our efforts for positive change! The creative side of “what if”….like, what if it doesn’t happen, what if this thing is a hoax, what if it is too hard, what if I miss a day of affirmations, what if…, what if…?  What IF I fail?

One of the reasons positive affirmations/thinking is more than “thinking” our way to a positive change, and why we often do fail, is because – 1. We sabotage all of our efforts with equally negative thoughts, 2. You have to get down deeper than our conscious thought; you must go into our subconscious thought.  So you ask, “how do you get to the subconscious level?”  Hmmmm, VERY good question! And I am still in the research on that myself!

The Power of Positive Thinking

If you haven’t read The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, do so. Here is a free pdf of the book  –


Norman Vincent Peale’s book started my quest to overcome my own deficient thinking way back when I was in my 20s. I hung on every word of his book. As a person of faith it allowed me to believe that God wanted this in my own life too, and would help me become a stronger person. In time my life got more and more hectic, and stressful. I’d forgotten about this book and all of it wisdom. Well, let me say, nearly all. I knew I needed to be a “positive” speaking person. I thought I had mastered that! Oh, but actually I had not.

This brings up the other reason why “thinking positive” often doesn’t work. People need to do more work than they realize in order to make things happen. We humans have a history of experiences that we record in our mind. Those experiences get stored deep into our subconscious mind.  We store good habits and  thoughts with their emotions from those, as well, as the bad habits and thoughts with the emotions from those! It depends on the amount of bad experiences that we have in order to overcome. Often times we will have emotions that come up out of nowhere seemingly – and we never seem to be able to control them! Why? Precisely, because they are in our “subconscious”! Those emotions triggered a hormonal chemical (peptides) to be released that aids communication between your brain neuro-receptors to your brain cells. Electrical current travels these and in time become a “paved highway” for easy thoughts – thus habit. (I am trying to keep this simple as much as I can).  Now your mind and body will react to the thought and thus the emotion. Your mind believes the emotion or thought; it believes it to be REAL. It now has become REALITY! You can relive a memory, good or bad, and it will feel real! You will then ACT as if it was real in every similar future life experience. Whether the experience was just a “story” or reality, your brain couldn’t tell the difference emotionally. It just felt real, so we act as if it was! This is why childhood abuse or trauma is often times a life time of learning to UN-learn the responses from those childhood events.

How many of us have “abused” ourselves mentally, over and over, since childhood!? Victims of PTSD (post traumatic syndrome disorder), abuse, or trauma, have to have professional help to overcome those “ingrained” memories and emotional responses. Those of us with our own “ordinary” hardships, have to have patience to create the change within ourselves and often times need help to analyze why we have certain emotional responses – to see what experience started the process. THEN we can unravel the web of habitual thinking (positive or negative) and now we can confidently “choose” the path of thought that will lead to our desired outcome! Avoid thinking in the negative, like – “I can’t lose the deal”. Your mind doesn’t process the “can’t”, and hears “lose the deal”. Instead say – “I will win the deal”. Or attach emotions to it and say “Whoohoo! I am winning the deal!” and feel what it would be like to do that. (See graphic below from — http://rebelbrown.com/your-quantum-mind-in-action). I had trouble making positive affirmations work because I would “feel” like I was lying to myself and that stemmed from some emotional responses from a childhood abuse situation. If I was lying then I would conclude I couldn’t do the positive thought. I would end up feeling worse anytime I tried to say a positive affirmation in the present tense. I.e. – “I am winning…” It seemed so wrong! So, positive affirmations DIDN’T work for me, until I got to understand my subconscious emotional triggers.

Positive Affirmations the right way!

Positive Affirmations

In essence, positive thinking and positive affirmations can be a benefit. In order to make a lasting and effectual change, it will take work. Seek out someone that understands the workings of the subconscious mind and who will provide a safe environment for you to unveil potentially hard subconscious memories. If you feel that you can master positive thought by positive affirmations  – practice meditation and prayer; believe in the One who created you – God, for He knows how wonderfully you are made. Attach emotional responses to your thoughts (feel good emotions!). Remember your brain doesn’t know if it is real or not, it just is. With enough practice it can become YOUR NEW REALITY.

Here are some great books on the subject that I’ve gleaned great information. Understand too, that just reading about it, having knowledge won’t make the changes for positive thinking if you have deep rooted issues living in your mind subconsciously. Once those are resolved – these books will feed you and motivate to move forward! Enjoy!

Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude – Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Watch What You Say When You Talk To Yourself – Dr. Bob Gerding

The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self- Confidence – Dr. Robert Anthony

 Personally, how has it affected me?

If you grew up like me. Under a roof of a abusive, critical and judgmental mother (who is very important to any child!), your self worth comes from how your mother sees you. I did not truly belief in myself in whatever I did until I began my journey as a business owner. If fact, I almost never started because I just SAW that I wasn’t successful at this! As a child, there wasn’t anything that appeared correctly or was done right, it had to be done over, or how my mother thought it was right to get it done! In fact, any time I tried to shine, it was either thrown out or done over by someone SHE thought knew better. Not exactly a learning by experience, the school of hard knocks, for me. I grew up saying “show me how it is done” and never stepping out. I was great at details, and I was great at pleasing other people. I never went to “pleasing myself”! This cost me! We can NEVER really please others until we learn to please ourselves through our own wants, desires, goals and dreams!

When I began being a business owner, I had a mentor who did her best. She saw my lack of self confidence. She was always trying to show me my strengths, and tried her best to keep me from bashing myself somewhere. Within 5 years, she had no more answers, except to say “she isn’t a psychotherapist”. I was drowning in “negative thought, self talk” and needed help. I found a therapist friend! She was the first to say “oh, yea! I can see what you are struggling with, and I can fix it!”  What? She knows what is going on, sees it, and can fix it!? How?!!!! Let’s do it!

A year and a half later, I learned the whys  to my negative self talk that I thought I controlled but didn’t. I learned the True Strength that resided in me, and how  much I do love those around me. I did the hard work to rewire myself, and “I think I got it!”.  So affirmations alone don’t work. But they do have their place as a tool to replace those negative thoughts, as long as you BELIEVE in your POSITIVE self talk! It has made changes in me that I am very thankful for and I have a bright future ahead!

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Written by CHERYL GNAD


Cheryl Gnad, of owner/social media consultant with Social Focus by CG, offers coaching and consulting for small businesses looking to incorporate social media into their advertising strategies. She is a self-developed business owner, and a trained social media manager with names like Kate Buck Jr., Amy Porterfield, Kim Garst and Sandi Krakowski. Follow her on Facebook at Social Focus by CG, Twitter@SocialFocusbyCG, and on Linkedin.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynne September 26, 2013 at 12:55 PM

The title of your article threw me off, but as I continued reading things made more sense and I completely agree with you. We do not only need to have “positive thinking” or positive affirmations, we need to do the work to achieve the goals that we set out to accomplish.


Beth February 19, 2014 at 4:22 PM

I’m glad you persisted until you found someone who helped you. My mother was very critical of me too. My response was (spoken only to myself) “yes, I can.” Each of us needs to find her/his unique path that works and makes us positive and happy.


Heather February 19, 2014 at 5:19 PM

I love the title to this post! Really caught me and it makes sense. Thank you SO much for sharing your journey and how you are getting to where you need to be because you changed how you think. I understand the abusive family and I have found it very difficult sometimes too. Faith really makes you get through. Great post!


Daveda February 19, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Great post, Cheryl! Catchy title… I thought “what?” Hehehe I agree, we have to believe our affirmations, not just say them and many times that requires sifting through the rubble. Good for you for always moving forward and never giving up! Jesus loves YOU!


Jackie Harder February 20, 2014 at 6:14 AM

Really enjoyed this. I love the way you connect positive thinking with positive action. One rarely happens without the other. I have found, however, that writing affirmations give them more weight, in a manner of speaking, and that helps them become more real to you.


Patricia February 20, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Great story Cheryl. Great job nipping the culprit! and thank you for sharing Peale’s book. Best one I ever read moon’s ago – time to re-read! great job!! p


Marita Steffe February 20, 2014 at 9:55 AM

I enjoyed your post. It’s true that positive affirmations, or just the words are not very effective, what makes it effective is the feeling or energy attached to them. But for sure they do not hurt and it’s better to say positive affirmation then negative self talk.
Thanks you for your personal story, it’s always so good to hear that most people have a painful background. I love the image you posted and believe that if we can change our mind we can change everything 🙂


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