For years, I have walked around with post it notes and flags, supportive and loving messages printed up on my fridge and all around my house, quietly whispering sweet sayings to myself in hopes of manifesting a new reality for myself that was uplifting, inspiring and unfortunately, for reasons unknown, so totally out of reach. And as a result, instead of feeling purposeful, I felt insufficient, like I had failed myself because I couldn’t truly believe these amazing fortune tellings about my future. Weeks later I would conclude their inefficacy and give up, only to feel guilty, like I was doing it wrong or missing the mark. I mean, they sound nice but who am I kidding.

I feel that affirmations, as beautiful as they may be (and mine were all flowery and lovely), did not have the end result of manifesting my dreams, desires or wishes because deep down, I felt like a fraud. Although I was telling myself I was strong and powerful, in reality I *felt* weak, feeble and scared and a little disempowered. I had tried to tell myself that I was okay and everything was going to be okay, yet that was not how I really felt. At times, affirmations served to suffocate my true feelings and led to pushing me to cover up my fears, when what they really needed was to have a voice and the space to express themselves. Phrasing them in the present tense like “I am a successful artist” when in reality, I really did not feel that way about my art… did not help matters. I felt like I was living a lie with each utterance, and so eventually I would move on and gradually forget to do my affirmations. I was perpetually living into the future, a future of unicorns, paisleys and rainbows, one that was not realistic or representative of how I truly felt inside.

Now please know that I am not saying affirmation don’t work. I’m sure they do, for some people. Maybe even for you, when done right. But they just don’t have the intended impact for ME. Admittedly, the affirmations did serve a purpose – although not necessarily the one I wanted… funnily enough, it would soothe me in times of stress and discomfort. During meditation, I would latch onto a phrase and repeat it softly, bringing me sense of deep peace and well-being in the face of adversity or a difficult day. The result was temporary and fleeting, but gave me a reprieve from those difficult moments where I struggled to deal with life. I do not know if I can even call them affirmations though, for in mediation they were not contrived but rather inspired by the moment and a deeper part of my psyche. The phrases became sacred and in the moment, however, they were only valid and helpful for the present time. I would try and walk around the house repeating these meditative words, but they fell short and no longer had the impact of the original moment so I released them as their purpose had been fulfilled and had moved on.

I think affirmations for me have now morphed into declarations, expressions of my desires in the face of gratitude, or the recognition of what is working in my life. Stating intentions and desires engenders trust in the universe that I am loved and cared for, and that I trust miracles or good things are right around the corner. It is a subtle shift from affirmations -which never empowered me in the first place as I couldn’t believe them- to a focus on my purpose and on creating good memories. I am learning to find joy in trying new things, like new art techniques, while praying for grace that Spirit will take care of the rest. So as a result, I pray differently – instead of pleading and begging for something, I put forward intentions of what I want to create. Formerly I had wasted so much time with questions of why things were the way they were, and now… I focus on where I want to be, what I want my life to look like, how I want to feel, and there is more love and peace in my life as a result. I still ask lots of questions, but I try to remind myself to let go of the incessant mind and get clarity on what I want. Even if it’s simply a good night’s sleep, or the answer to a health concern. It’s about shifting our attention to what we want to create in our lives, instead of focussing on how perfect we should be, or striving to be something we just are not yet, and may never be. I don’t mean to dispute affirmation for everyone, as I have mentioned already, they do work for some individuals in certain instances. But what was missing from my affirmations was the ability to feel as if the end goal was already attained and in my hands, and it was this lack of feeling confident in myself and my abiiity to create that has possibly stood in my way. For now, I am content to redirect my efforts into being grateful for the many blessings in my life, which serves to make me feel good about my place in life and where I’m going? Well, this just flows more naturally from my desires.