Rosicrucian Writings Online

Why Affirmations Fail to Bring Results

An Important Law is Revealed in This Constructive Criticism
By Royle Thurston
[From The Mystic Triangle July 1925]
According to common practice in the popular schools of applied psychology, "affirmations" are potent little formulae that simply do, or undo, many things.
The idea is not new.  Eve affirmed that the apple was good, probably to ease her own conscience, even as many do today; and Shakespeare speaks of one who affirmed his innocence so often he was doubted by those who heard him, even as some do today.
The principle involved is complex; in fact it has become a very real complex with many persons.  That a self-made decision, repeated with a positive tone of voice and an assumed finality, as though it were a fiat, should provoke a physical condition, is but one side of the complex.
The other side is that the affirmation is often so untrue, unsound or unfounded, that the maker of the affirmation must assume that it is true in order to deceive his own consciousness!
As in many modern methods of simplified mysticism or psychology, prepared for the unreasoning and superficial students, unsoundness of system or principle causes not only failures in the various tests of the methods, but brings ridicule to the whole metaphysical movement in America.
There is one principle in psychology which very aptly applies in the examination of modern methods of "affirming."  This law, briefly stated, is: "A suggestion, to be effective, must establish conviction through confirmation of the fact."
In other words, if one seeks to produce or excite any causation by means of a suggestion to the mind of the self, the suggestion must be convincingly given and accepted through such analysis as the normal mind practices.
You will note that reference is made here to analysis or processes of analysis which the normal mind practices as a matter of habit.  The normal mind was given the ability to analyze as a safeguard against external (and internal!) deception.
The normal mind!  The fanatical mind, the mind of the over-enthusiast and the extremist, like unto the mind of the fool, the idiot and the atheist, does not analyze.  For them, this article is worthless; they will not see the point I am making; hence, I will not have to apologize for putting them all in the same class.
How, then, can one who is physically suffering and mentally agonizing from an aching tooth (with a real, definite, concrete causation resident in the locality of the tooth, not solely in the mind) walk about a room, with head held high and affirm: "I have no toothache!  I am NOT suffering from a tooth!  I have NO pain!"?
Does the making of such affirmations for just a minute, end the pain for hours?  No! for we find that for hours the sufferer walks about attempting to divert attention, but resorting always to the same affirmation until finally it is changed slightly, with fond hope that it may become true, to: "My pain is leaving me: The ache is going away!"  This, after having affirmed that there was no pain.
I do not mean to say that pain has no connection with the mind or that, inversely, there is no relation between mind and pain.  Nor do I mean to intimate that mind can have no effect upon pain.  But I do mean to say that affirmations which are based upon the unsound principle of deception and denial, are ineffective.
Let us examine the mental and brain process that is involved in the case we have been citing.  We can start with a fact, not an assumption: there is pain in or near a certain tooth.  We can add to this a very logical and sane deduction, also a fact, that in or near that tooth there is a physical condition that is abnormal, an unsoundness.  Mind is causing the pain in one sense, but solely for the purpose of telling us, impressing upon us, the fact that there is a wrong physical condition there which should be corrected.  Mind needs no instruction from our outer selves as to when she should cease giving the impression or signal of pain.  She knows well enough when to stop tormenting the brain with that impression.  She will automatically and gladly do so, when the abnormal physical condition is changed.
With these facts in your mind, think of what is actually going on in the consciousness of the person thusly suffering but attempting to use affirmations to end the pain or "cure"(!) the toothache.  Really, if we consider the mind and its consciousness as one "self" within that person's body, and the brain and its beliefs and faith in such systems as another "self," we may picture the whole matter as a dialogue, the two selves speaking as follows:
Mind:  I cry pain!  Something is sadly wrong in a tooth.  It needs immediate attention.  HELP!
Brain:  There goes that mind of mine trying to create pain for me.  Let me see, my school lesson and John Jones' special book says on page ten I should deny that pain, and affirm I have no pain.
Mind:  Help!  Help!
Brain:  Ah, here is the formula "I have no pain!  I am God's child, and in one of His likeness there can be no pain!"
Mind:  God did make you in his likeness but you have neglected a component part of that likeness and permitted your teeth to become faulty and it, as part of the whole, is no longer in God's likeness.
Brain:  Again I affirm.  I have no pain!  Pain cannot exist but in mortal thought, and I am Divine!
Mind:  Help! Your tooth is mortal, and it is a mortal condition that you have and it needs mortal attention right now.  Do not deceive yourself!
Brain:  My pain is gradually leaving me; it is much better than it was!
Mind:  You know it is not, that is why you are holding your hands against your face and walking about the room as though you were insane.  Get some help for the tooth!
Brain:  I must be more positive in my affirmations; Pain you do not exist!
Mind:  You are telling an untruth, else you would not need to make so positive an affirmation.  Help, help for the tooth, not the mind!
And so the dialogue goes on for an hour, until, finally, the mind says plainly to the brain: "If your first affirmation, made an hour ago, had the slightest essence of truth in it, why are you still making affirmations?  You believed you were being made a slave to pain and that you would free yourself from such mortal slavery by asserting your Divine Perfection.  But, see now!  For one hour you have been a slave, not to pain, but to a system of affirmations, to a system of error, to a scheme of deception.  It has whipped you into delay,--procrastination.  It has held you in fetters to a mortal belief.  It has robbed you of your reasoning.  It has deafened you to the 'Still Small Voice' that God has put into each being, the very consciousness of God, which warns us when there is an error in our physical system, an abnormal state requiring immediate attention.  You have added one hour more to the time of your suffering by having delayed one hour in starting the right method to end the pain.  Go to a dentist now!"
Is this far fetched?  And, does this apply only to those who use affirmations for toothaches or even pains in general?  Sad to say, but the case cited is not the most serious or important.  Thousands of persons have walked about for days with very serious conditions, even critical states, that should have been attended to at once.  More serious and often permanent conditions have resulted from actual neglect while practising an unsound system of psychology.
This is not a plea in behalf of dentists, medical men or any system of therapeutics.  But it is a plea for soundness in reasoning.  It is entirely practical and good mysticism, as well as excellent psychology, to follow the Biblical injunction to cast the mote of thine eye, or have someone else who is more proficient, do it for you.  It is sensible and in no way inconsistent with the principles of psychology or the functionings of the mind, to wash the flesh of the body when it becomes contaminated with foreign matter: and regardless of the fact that we are made in God's likeness, dirt and other elements, foreign to the human organization, will besmirch this perfect creation of ours.
When foreign matter gets into the physical body we pluck it out, as when we remove a splinter from the finger or a nail from the foot.  A decaying process in a tooth or in the flesh, a disease germ, and a bullet from a gun, are foreign things and should be removed.  As I have said, that is good common sense, and good mysticism and excellent psychology. It is consistent with the sane teachings of the Amorc, I am happy to say.
But, have affirmations no place in our scheme of life, and is there no efficacy in their use?
That is a different matter.  Without any doubt affirmations can be used with excellent results, when based upon truth and sane reasoning.  When one is suffering from pain, it is well indeed to make affirmations, but in this form: "Pain is a signal, and I hear the signal.  Pain is not a condition, but a sign of a condition.  I will remove the condition that causes pain.  I will not needlessly suffer, for neither God nor mind intended or want man to suffer.  Therefore I shall end the pain by removing the cause.  Do not concern yourself any longer, blessed advisor of my welfare:  I go thither at once to seek capable assistance in removing the cause of pain.  Then, pain shall no longer annoy my peace of being."
If more positive affirmations are believed necessary, then one may use this form:
"I am a perfect being in intent and purpose, but I am weak in living to the ideal.  I have erred in some way and my consciousness warns me of my error.  There is within me every means for the immediate restoration to health of my body, if I give such natural means the freedom from interference and the assistance they need now in a complex situation.  Therefore, to assist nature and to give her forces freedom to operate, I will undo that which I have done and which I should not have done, I will correct the error of my ways, I will remove, or have removed, that which interferes with nature's laws within my body, and permit my perfect being to manifest itself and make me whole, clean, right and happy.  For Health, Happiness, Strength and Peace are my Divine Birthrights!"
Such a frank affirmation of the facts will tend to make you conscious of your duty to your body, your obligations to nature and your sane path of action.
Thy faith may make thee whole, but that faith must be based upon a correct understanding of the true conditions, and it must include, and not exclude, faith in all the immutable laws of nature.
That is the faith, and that only, which will enable us to move mountains.

Section IndexHome Page
Copyright  2007 Aswins Rabaq. All Rights Reserved.