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Using Affirmations to Change your Operating System

We all have an "operating system"...that set of ideas or beliefs we've built around how the world works. For most of us, that system was put in place in early childhood and it includes not only how the world works, but who you're allowed to be in the world. Once in place, it functions very much like the OS on your computer or phone. You're hardly aware it's there, and yet it's nearly impossible to function outside of it. It becomes the framework that bounds and even creates your life. If your operating system is positive and supportive, life is good. You easily create a joyful life. If those beliefs, however, are negative or destructive, life can feel like a constant struggle. Even your best efforts to change are met with resistance or result in failure, because you're working against your own operating system. Even then, we rarely question those beliefs. And yet that's exactly what needs to change if you want to get results. Your life, for better or worse, is a mirror of your own beliefs.

One of the simplest, and surprisingly effective, ways I've learned for upgrading my own operating system is using affirmations. Affirmations are simply positive ideas or intentions for what you'd like your life to be. You can write affirmations for:

  • qualities you'd like to embody (such as confidence or strength),

  • things you'd like to have more of (such as love, support or friendship),

  • experiences you'd like to have (such as getting a good job or finding a mate), or

  • even big beliefs you'd like to change (such as how much freedom, choice or authority you're entitled to).

You can write affirmations for just about anything, following just a few simple rules:

  1. Keep them positive,

  2. Write them in the first person, and

  3. Write them in the present-tense.

As an example, if you'd like to experience improved physical health, you could use the affirmation "I am healthy," or "I am growing healthier with each passing day." Once you've come up with your affirmation, write it down and put it where you'll see it often, like on your alarm clock or bathroom mirror. Set aside a regular time for repeating your affirmations aloud (right after waking and just before bed are ideal times), or download an app so you can be reminded of them throughout the day.

That's the basics, but if you really want to work with affirmations, I'd like to share an extremely effective technique I've learned, which includes the extra step of getting in touch with the negative beliefs you're trying to change. Negative beliefs exist for a reason. They likely became part of your operating system because you needed them. They helped you survive. They gave you a way to face challenging experiences you weren't ready for and function in a world that doesn't always make sense. Even if they're outdated and no longer serving you, a part of you doesn't want to let them go. If you really want to change, you've got to face the fear that's holding those negative beliefs in place. And the only thing that heals fear is love. Loving yourself means not only embracing more empowering, positive beliefs, but witnessing and holding space for your history and the part of you that's still afraid.

Here's the basics of how I do it:

  1. Find some time and space where you can be alone. Create space for your sacred work. Sit quietly and take a few, deep breaths.

  2. Say your new, positive affirmation aloud.

  3. For a moment, listen (without judgement or attachment) to all the voices in your head that disagree. Simply notice whatever comes up, in a nonjudgmental way. (As an example, if your affirmation is “I am successful,” your next thought might be, “No you’re not, you’re a loser. You'll never be successful.”) This is your old programming. Witness it, as lovingly as you can.

  4. Take another deep breath and gently repeat your new, positive affirmation.

  5. Repeat.

By pausing to listen and give witness to all your negative beliefs, you bring them out of the dark and soften the power they have over you. Repeating your affirmation is like gently laying a new piece of code down in your operating system. By witnessing the old beliefs, you bring the light of your divine self into a place of darkness and fear. And that's enough. Light doesn't need to do anything to dispel darkness. It just needs to enter the dark place and be present.

When you feel like you've witnessed everything that needs to be seen, say your new affirmation aloud one more time and imagine that you wholeheartedly believe it to be true. Feel the positive emotions that match your new affirmation (such as joy, hope, expectation, patience, relief....). Imagine what would be different if your life was being created with this belief as your guide.

Practicing this way lets the old, fearful voices know that you hear them and even appreciate what they've done for you. It honors your experience, while affirming your new path forward.

As you repeat this practice, you'll notice that the old programming starts to give way to the new, with the chatter becoming less and less negative. As this happens, you'll also be reclaiming all that creative energy that was locked in fear. Before long, you may even say an affirmation and feel a, "That's for sure!" or "That's right, you are!"

Be sure to watch how your life changes to better align with your new beliefs. You are a divine, sovereign creator. Enjoy!

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