Why Positive Affirmations Can Make Things Worse

Repeating positive affirmations is a concept I love and similarly to visualizations, it changes so many lives. Affirmations and visualizations are an amazing self-help tool for many people. But for another group of people, it can actually seem to make things worse. Why?

The idea behind an affirmation of any kind (verbal or visual) is that you are affirming positive thoughts or images — things that you’d like to be in alignment with. What can happen though, if every time you focus on something positive, the OPPOSITE comes up (either consciously or subconsciously)? This is something I refer to as the “yeah, but’s…” or “tail enders” of an affirmation.

Some examples are:

  • I am thin and beautiful……yeah, but that’s not true, I’m fat!
  • I will succeed….yeah, but I’m afraid then I’ll be too busy and I don’t want that.
  • I choose to release my anger toward Bob…..yeah, but no I don’t, because then he’ll be off the hook!

So, by repeating positive affirmations, we can actually be repeating (even if just in our mind), negative statements 10, 20, 30 or more times a day — depending on how ambitious you are. Yikes! Surely, our “tail enders” aren’t a good thing to embed any deeper.

The irony is that affirmations work when we believe them, and if we believed them in the first place, we might not need to use them. Right?

How Do We Make Affirmations Successful?

A very very easy way is to create your own affirmations — ones that are just baby steps from how you really feel, right now. So for example, if you repeat an affirmation like “I am perfect, happy, and healthy,” but you are not feeling that way, it’s likely to backfire. A better approach would be to revise that affirmation to something like “I am excited to feel perfect, happy, and healthy,” which is positive, but could still feel true for you.

More examples of baby-step affirmations:

I am able to see the good in myself.

My health is moving in the right direction.

Affirmations like these will not likely cause an opposite reaction, which means, they’ll work! As you feel better about yourself or your health, you can continue to revise so they are more and more positive, yet still resonate with you.

Another Great Way to Make Affirmations Work

One of the ways I like to turn those affirmations into a positive practice is to use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). By using EFT, we can diffuse the energy or “charge” of the “tail enders.” This helps us disconnect from them. In other words, we use EFT tapping to un-believe them! When we tap, our energy comes into balance and we are able to be in alignment with the affirmation and not the “tail ender.”

Step 1: Write down a list of the affirmations you’d like to start believing in.

Step 2: Next, say each out loud and listen carefully for any negative thoughts in your head after you say them. This is the “tail ender” or the “but….” Write these down.

Step 3: Use that phrase as your EFT set up tapping phrase. To see how to use EFT Meridian Tapping, take a look at my EFT tapping card.


Affirmation: I am thin and beautiful……but that’s not true, I’m fat!

EFT set up phrase: “Even though I want to be thin and beautiful but I really feel like I’m fat and just the opposite….I accept myself anyway.”
Rest of the tapping points: “I feel like I’m fat.” “I’m convinced I’m fat.” Etc.

Remember, with EFT, the tapping points are helping us balance our energy in relationship to whatever we’re focused on so focusing on the negative is the only way to really dissipate the energy around it.

Why Using EFT With Affirmations Works

This gets rid of the negative aspect of your affirmations and prevents you from focusing on something detrimental like “I’m really fat.” That surely isn’t going to help you feel better about your body. Once the energy around the negative is dispelled, you can be sure what you’re focusing on is what you really want to affirm to yourself several times a day.

Affirmations and visualizations are awesome as long as you can honestly feel the truth in them! Now go out and believe how wonderful you are. You deserve it!

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