“I attract abundance and wealth.”
“I have only positive feelings toward my brother.”
“The world is a loving and generous place.”
In a world where we’re bombarded with messages about our inadequacy, affirmations can feel like a breath of fresh air. The positive images provide something to which we can aspire when we’re stuck in negative thinking or ways of responding.
I have asked many clients, friends, and students about their experience with affirmations. They tell me that affirmations can be the beginning of a better way of thinking, but if the underlying issues or pain are not changed or healed, after a time affirmations lose their power. They’re like a pill that provides “temporary symptomatic relief”, but not a cure.
This post is about a different way. This is a gentle, contemplative process for creating a change you desire in yourself. With this approach, you don’t deny that the problem exists by insisting that the opposite condition is real, nor do you try to overpower what you want to change by sheer force of will. You let go of “I want,” “I should,” “I must,” or “I will”.
Begin by giving yourself permission to take a break from the campaign for perfection. Don’t try to do anything. Instead, allow yourself to consider what you would wish to experience. Do this in a detached, relaxed manner. No pressure, no expectation, no figuring it out.
Here’s the key phrase: “What might it be like…?”
- What might it be like to be confident instead of anxious?
- What might it be like to play every game to my full potential?
- What might it be like to be happy?
- What might it be like to let go of my dislike for X?
- What might it be like to allow money to flow into my life?
- What might it be like not to have to control everything?
- What might it be like to love every person without condition?
- What might it be like to be polite to everyone I meet?
- What might it be like not to be angry all the time?
- What might it be like to have no opinions?
- What might it be like to be absolutely without fear?
- What might it be like to be free of pain?
- What might it be like not to react to _____________?
- What might it be like to forgive Y?
- What might it be like to forgive myself?
As you consider this question, keep in mind that you’re not trying to figure it out. Don’t say “What would it be like?”, or “What will it be like?”, or “What could it be like?” Just allow yourself to wonder… Really, what might it be like?
When you say your phrase, immediately let go of any need or expectation about results. No mental pictures, no “should’s,” no “how’s.” All you do is briefly contemplate what it might be like.
Now let it go altogether: stop even thinking about it for a time. Later, tune in to the phrase again and notice what’s different in you. Or if it’s about a behaviour, observe yourself. You may find that when the trigger occurs, you don’t react the way you used to .
When I first used this method (my question was “What might it be like not to have opinions about everything?”) and then let go, I sensed an immediate release from pressure to succeed somehow in not having opinions about everything. I felt no expectation of any outcome at all.
The next thing I noticed was a shift in my heart—not my mind—as if the “might” were becoming an “is”. That was delightful! And all of this without me expecting anything, figuring out how to make anything happen, or applying my will to the question.
Then, something wonderful: the change began to take hold. More accurately, I changed. Without effort—just like the rest of the process. I found myself listening to news or other people’s words with no judgment, no opinion, no need to correct, change, or fix. I became someone I liked better. Someone who felt like a better version of me.
I invite you to look again at the questions above, and notice that they are all about changes that occur within you, the person who posed the question.
Use your imagination. Ask your questions. Let go. Observe.
What might it be like…?
Published June 15, 2021