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Affirmations vs The Work

Friday, March 04, 2011

From an Interview With Byron Katie, we have this exerpt about affirmations, why they often don't work, and how they relate to "the work."


Ray: At the talk you gave the other night, you explained how easily positive thinking can be turned around, because people still are basing their well-being on thoughts. Affirmations like, “I’m loveable, I’m loveable, I’m loveable,” have something stronger running underneath: “I’m not loveable.” You feel better with positive thinking, you said, until you can’t make your mortgage payment, receive an unexpected bill, or get a parking ticket. “Are you still loveable then?” you asked.

Katie: Yes.

Ray: So questioning your stressful thoughts—the process of inquiry—better supports joy than does trying to think joyful thoughts?

Katie: By questioning our stressful thoughts, we come to see that they’re not true. And if we see that our stressful thoughts aren’t true—if we have questioned them deeply and thoroughly enough—what does that leave? It leaves love. It leaves you completely in love with yourself, and with a mind that can only project love onto everyone else as well.

You can never make yourself believe that you’re loveable, however hard you try, because when the chips are down, what you really believe rises to the surface of the mind to replace what you want to believe. So, after years of “I am loveable, I am loveable,” when your husband lies to you or your mother is rude, the underlying thought “I’m unloveable” overrides all your positive affirmations.

What we really believe is what we manifest. What we believe, we see. So, we cannot see what we don’t believe.

People talk about manifesting with positive affirmations. You can say, “I want a car, I want a car, I want a car,” but if the mind is running, “I don’t deserve it, I’ll never be able to afford it, I’ll never be a success”—if all those things are running—then that’s exactly what you’re really manifesting and what’s running your life. And as long as you believe those things, thinking positively—even though for some people it may be helpful at times—is not strong enough to override your negative beliefs.

If I want something, I go get it. Anything that I believe will stop me, I question. And I might be wise enough in that questioning to appreciate what I already have. I think that’s the trick: wanting what you have, whether you get the car or not.

Really, I don’t know if that’s the trick or not. What I know is it’s a wonderful world when you have what you want at all times.

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