What holds you back from achieving your dreams—or even daring to take them seriously? If you're like most people, the first answer that comes to mind may be lack—lack of money, lack of opportunity, lack of some other external commodity or circumstance. But the fact is that we're more often held back by our own thoughts and attitudes than by what we have or own.
It may not be easy to accept this. Despite many stories about how people without money or opportunity have triumphed over major challenges, it may be difficult to believe that positive thinking can change your life. But it can. Positive thinking:
- opens your mind to new possibilities;
- changes your attitude about yourself and what you can accomplish;
- frees your intellect and your intuition to find creative ways to fulfill your goals.
You may be among the many people who grew up with little regard for themselves and their desires. In trying to make us "better", well-meaning parents, teachers, and other adults sometimes planted negative thoughts in our heads. Statements like "Straighten up and act right;" "You could do better if you'd only try;" and "Don't be ridiculous—that would never work!" served to discourage rather than encourage our natural creativity. As a result, we often carry a lot of negative messages around—little voices below the level of our conscious awareness that whisper things like "You can't", "Don't bother trying", "They'll only laugh", "You don't deserve it," and "Why bother?" Messages like these keep us trapped in unhealthy situations, low-paying jobs, and meaningless, boring activity. Positive thinking can free us to become the creative images of God that Genesis tells us we were made to be.
Is it easy to move from a negative frame of mind to a positive one? Yes and no. Yes, because simple techniques like affirmations can be used to change your thinking and therefore your life. No, because developing and using affirmations takes some discipline, effort, and patience. But if you are willing to spend some time each day to focus on this simple technique, you will begin to see results. Behind the use of affirmations is the assumption that thoughts exert a powerful influence on your mood, your health, and your behavior. Negative thinking destroys. Positive thinking creates. Affirmations can be used to turn your thoughts from negative directions to more positive creative ones.
The way affirmations are written influences their effectiveness. The most important consideration is that affirmations must be authentic—that is they must reflect the desires and characteristics of the person using them. Research shows that diets work best when they have been designed to meet the individual needs of the person using them. The same thing is true with affirmations. In order to be most useful, affirmations should be authentic: appropriate to the personality, preferences, and purpose of the person using them.