In my last blog, I wrote about the life and work of Louise Hay, and how her teachings can be helpful for those suffering from chronic pain. Louise connected various physical health problems to emotional issues, and suggested some positive affirmations to help overcome the emotional root cause of pain. Whereas this technique can have positive results for some, others may need to use affirmations in combination with other practices for them to take effect. Here are my reasons why affirmations don’t always work, and some techniques to move past this.
Journaling Helps Express Negative Feelings
The theory behind positive affirmations is that by repeating them consciously, these messages will become subconscious. Chronic pain symptoms are often a manifestation of subconscious negative feelings, and if you haven't expressed and acknowledged the existing negative thoughts and beliefs, reciting positive affirmations is unlikely to have the desired effect. Positive affirmations are more likely to be effective if you first acknowledge and express these negative feelings using techniques such as journaling and tapping. Journaling is the practice of expressing your thoughts and feelings on paper, allowing you to release pressure, learn about yourself and explore emotional patterns which you may not have previously been aware of. After acknowledging your negative thoughts and feelings through journaling, you can begin to work on them using positive affirmations, and your symptoms may begin to improve.
Using Tapping to Release Energy
Tapping is a technique which based on the same theories as acupuncture, but whereas acupuncture involves using needles to release excess energy, tapping involves applying gentle pressure with the fingers. Optimum health needs a balanced flow of energy through the body, and strong emotions or trauma can cause blockages in that flow of energy which can cause pain. During tapping, emotions and beliefs are given attention and acknowledgement, the excess energy is gradually released, and balance is eventually restored, helping to relieve symptoms.
Both journaling and tapping help you acknowledge any negative feelings or emotions that you may have been suppressing. After becoming aware of these emotions and learning to express them, you might find that positive affirmations have a greater effect. Even those who have a positive outlook might be repressing painful emotions, and once these emotions have been expressed, you can begin to reframe them using positive affirmations.
Positive Affirmations Could Reinforce Negative Emotions
It is important to be honest and respect yourself, so if you believe something is true and affirm the opposite, you are only reinforcing the negative thoughts. One technique which I use to help my clients overcome their self-doubt when using affirmations is to help them pinpoint all the reasons why they do not believe the affirmation. While writing the affirmation down on paper about thirteen times, I ask clients to write out any opposing thoughts they have beginning with ‘yeah, but’, such as ‘I’m getting better every day’, ‘yeah, but I felt terrible yesterday’. The affirmation can then be adapted slightly to a statement which you are more comfortable with, such as ‘my recovery journey isn’t a straight path, but I’m slowly getting better’. This process should be repeated until you have found an affirmation for which there are no ‘yeah, but’ opposing thoughts.
Repeating positive affirmations might work immediately for some, but others may need to adapt their affirmations or combine them with other techniques for them to be effective. I usually recommend affirmations to my clients in combination with practices such as journaling and tapping. These methods can help you fully recover from chronic pain, so if you would like help using techniques such as these to become pain-free for good, please contact me.