Positive Words

By on October 6, 2013

The proliferation of New Age books, articles, and DVDs have brought increased awareness to how you can focus your mind to change your thought patterns and thus impact your reality. The use of affirmations – ‘positive’ statements that reflect a supportive way of thinking and being – is one commonly applied way to do so. There are many greeting cards and posters with motivational sayings that are now commonly seen framed in offices and homes. While there is no doubt that what you think impacts your experience, there can be challenges with how affirmations are commonly used that impacts their effectiveness.

The first issue with affirmations is that the specific use of language, while beneficial in terms of precision, can also exclude important aspects of the human experience. Spiritual reality is timeless, yet language is usually set on a past-present-future continuum which can run counter to this. In English, we don’t speak much in the present tense unless we are talking about habits (‘I eat cookies’ is not about what you are doing now but speaks to a habitual action); it is in fact the present continuous tense which speaks to events happening now. The challenge is that such sentences speaking to conditions that are NOT our current experience register in our consciousness as a lie. Saying “I am working in the perfect job” when you are not only helps raise awareness of your feelings of not working in the perfect job; the fact that you don’t really believe what you are saying doesn’t really help you attract ideal work into your life.

The choice of words in many affirmations can point to attractive concepts that are nevertheless not supportive. A popular one I’ve seen is Emily Dickinson’s quote “Dwell In Possibility”. Why would you want to do that? Don’t you want to get things done? Possibilities are great to explore, but if you want to take something from the world of possibility and then manifest something, you cannot continue to dwell in possibility. Other affirmations that use the imperative tense can also have unintended consequences, such as “Forgive” or “Do what you love”. The problem when faced with an ‘order’ like this (this imperative verb tense is telling you to do something) is that we often tend to resist (no one likes being told what to do). Additionally, this statement is affirming that we are not already doing this. If you were forgiving people in your life, would you need to post a statement telling you to do so? No – you would just be doing it!

So unfortunately affirmations can create the exact opposite from the intended consequences for which they are used. Their linguistic framework means the access point to our consciousness is restricted to mental language, which ties in with our belief system – the source of our limiting concepts. While words can help us over time to make shifts to broader emotional, spiritual, and physical states, they will not necessarily do so.

On the other hand, Feng Shui works by using subliminal affirmations in our surroundings: objects and images that create connections with desired states of being and situations. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the associations created from environmental stimuli can go a lot further than even the best-chosen words. Additionally, the colours, forms, and other connections created by these objects can work in subtler ways by bypassing the belief system’s linguistic center and stimulating an emotional state that is consistent with the spiritual state we are looking to experience. A picture of a relaxing setting could work better than a poster that has words about being calm; an image of a person meditating is more powerful than something that says ‘Turn Inward’ or ‘Trust Yourself’.

I had one client who had post-it notes all over his home telling him what he should be doing and believing. There were so many everywhere that it created a real feeling of mental busy-ness and confusion. I had him take them all down so that we could focus on placing larger supportive images around him. Relaxing art around his work station helped him to feel more grounded, and an image of him performing (he is a musician) right near the door supported him going into the world to do his craft. Sure enough, that night he gave one of his best performances in years.

If you are going to use artwork that includes words, be mindful of what is being said. Often a single word – ideally referring to a state of being, like ‘Delight’ or ‘Presence’ – can work, but it’s better not to use single-word verbs like ‘Trust’ or ‘Believe’, as these imply that you are not already doing that. Sentences are best chosen with caution. Ensure that the image catches your eye more than the text and helps you to feel how you want to feel both now and in the future.

May your home speak to you in the layered languages of your experience.

About Mark Ainley

Mark Ainley is a Contemporary Feng Shui Consultant and Emotional Stress Consultant living in Vancouver. A former 5-year resident of Tokyo, Mark consults with clients internationally to help them design living and work spaces in alignment with their goals. He also provides consulting in emotional stress management, as well as in the connection between facial structure and innate behavioural and communication patterns. He can be reached through his website: www.senseofspace.com and www.markainley.com.