Social Media is full of quotes, inspiring sentences and recommendations of all kinds without any specifics on how to turn those memorable words into realities. Unless the work is done, words are just words.
Social Media and the Internet are brimming with inspiring quotes and questions, with magical affirmations and motivational quotes. And they’re OK, up to a point. They are OK in the sense that they can help some people perceive a different interpretation of reality or question their views until that moment. They are OK because they might trigger introspection and analysis. They are OK because they might lead some people into avenues until then unexplored. But those sentences are only glimpses onto alternative realities and can only open doors and windows. They are like signposts on a road, telling us where one could go, if one walked or drove. Unless we move, unless we do the work and strive to live what those sentences and phrases say, our lives will remain the same.
This information is really important when working with clients. If you are a manager in a company and need to help your subordinates, if you work in Human Resources or as a coach, therapist or mentor, you should really help your clients move beyond the mere quote or the mere words. The same thing happens to motivational talks or messages. If you just give your people great-sounding bits of information but not the means to get there, you will be opening a door but not helping them cross the threshold to the other side. Learn how to truly help them.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in this information for yourself, go ahead and start delving deeper into self-discovery and growth.
Let me give you an example… affirmations. I do use affirmations with some of my clients but only as part of a bigger plan. Repeating a sentence with intention five times in the morning and five times in the evening, in front of a mirror or in bed will NOT make it come true. Let me describe the process we use in humanology when dealing with affirmations. Bear in mind, though, that the help of a professional humanologist is recommended the first one or two times to be able to master the technique.
- Identify the belief that is limiting you. (The professional humanologist will help the client do this by analyzing the client’s situation and reality)
- Define the declarations (affirmations) that you tell yourself about that belief. (The professional humanologist will help here by guiding the client into identifying what declarations are and how to spot them.)
- Decide whether you want to change the limiting belief.
Choose a new declaration that will do away with the limiting effect the old one has. (The first times, the help of a professional guiding you is very useful.) The new declaration or affirmation needs to comply with some basic rules.
- It must be stated in the affirmative.
- It must be stated in the present tense.
- It must reflect something in your power. It can’t depend on anybody else.
Start reinforcing it and strengthening it following these simple steps (fundamental):
- During the first week, verbally and mentally repeat the new declaration or affirmation as often as you can.
- Whenever possible, write the new declaration down as many times as you can. Yes, like in school.
- Every time the old affirmation or declaration comes to your mind or into your words, let it go and repeat the new one five times to yourself, either in words or in your mind.
- Whenever the new declaration/affirmation happens in your life, even if for just a tiny second, celebrate it. You can celebrate it any way you want, but make sure that you allow yourself the feeling of success, achievement, pride, happiness, satisfaction or the like.
- While celebrating it, make a gesture of success: high-five yourself, pat your back, kiss your hand, whatever.
- Do not attempt to change more than one belief/declaration at the same time. One declaration/belief per week is the recommended amount.
Let’s now apply it to a real affirmation/declaration. I have quite a few clients who believe themselves to not be good enough. Let’s apply the same list as before but now with this real example:
- Belief limiting them: ‘I’m not liked by anybody. I don’t fit in. I can’t do anything right. Every time I try to do something, I do it wrong.’
- Declaration: ‘I’m not good enough.’
- The person does want to change the belief, as it makes life so hard.
A new declaration is chosen after working with a humanologist: ‘I am quite good at a few things.’ (Observe that this new belief somehow destroys the old one without contradicting it. It’s fundamental to choose new declarations that don’t contradict the old ones, as our brain would not accept those that do.)
- It is in the affirmative (negative ones would be something like… I’m not bad. The “not” part would be negative.)
- It is in the present (if the declaration is set in the future tense, it will always be in the future, never real.)
- It is in the person’s power to decide what he/she is good at
The person then starts reinforcing it. Observe that the person’s brain will be completely focused on this new affirmation/declaration when repeating it, so the old one will not be as reinforced as it used to be. In time, not reinforcing the old one will make it lose part of its power. Repetition is fundamental when establishing and changing beliefs.
- The person repeats ‘I am quite good at a few things’ in front of the mirror every morning and evening, chants it in the car, thinks about it like a mantra for at least a whole week.
- The person sits down and writes the sentence fifty times every day for a week.
- When the old thought, ‘I’m not good enough’ pops into the person’s mind, it is quickly acknowledged but immediately replaced with the new one: ‘I am quite good at a few things.’
- One day, the client is suddenly aware that he/she did something right. It’s celebration time! The client celebrates that achievement by jumping into the air and feeling good about it.
As you can see, the procedure is not just a matter of reading an inspiring affirmation or quote. It’s not a matter of anybody convincing you, either. It’s much more. It requires serious work. Without that work, nothing will change.
If you are a coach, a therapist, an executive or human resource professional, bear this in mind when working with your people. We all have limitations and beliefs, and giving us inspiring quotes or ideas will not be enough to help us change. There’s a complete process to follow and only by completing it, will our reality change. Inspiring quotes, motivational texts, pep talks and the like can only effectively work when followed and supported by real steps and progress.
Enjoy life… ALL of it.