At some time in your life you have probably used affirmations or other positive self-talk to change an attitude, opinion or behavior. The more you have done this, the more you know that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

What makes the difference? Why are there times when you only need to say the affirmation once and your whole life changes? And yet you repeat other affirmations religiously for days, weeks, months and sometimes even years and nothing happens?

I believe that the difference between positive affirmations that work and those that don't are the underlying beliefs you hold regarding the topic at hand. If, for example, you want to experience a loving relationship and your underlying beliefs support the idea that you are lovable, then the door opens to allow a relationship in. If, however, you don't really believe that you are lovable, or worthy, or good enough, that belief will negate all the positive energy you expend to create a loving relationship.

It is interesting that negative beliefs don't stop us wanting or desiring something. It's also interesting that the belief is stronger than the desire. I think it's because our beliefs are much deeper, living as they do for the most part in our unconscious. They often come from our parents and our childhood experiences, particularly from our interpretation of those messages and experiences.

The best way to figure out if this is going on in your life is to make a list of those items you have 'actively' desired and that you still have not been able to create. Then, think about the beliefs you would need to have in order to support those desires. That's what I'm calling 'bolstering beliefs'.

The following exercise is a good way to get at the underlying negative beliefs in order to change them.

1. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper, dividing the page into two columns.

2. Choose one of the bolstering beliefs you've just identified. On the left hand side, write down that bolstering belief.

3. On the right hand side, write down the first thing that pops into your mind. Don't think about this. You will have an immediate thought. Just write it down.

4. On the left hand side, write down the bolstering belief.

5. On the right hand side, write down the first thing that pops into your mind.

Keep on going back and forth between the two columns. Try not to stop before going on to either side: that is, don't 'think' about it, just let the process flow. The goal is not only to uncover the negative beliefs, but to get past them. So, once you've identified one underlying belief keep going. Others may come up. Continue until you end up writing the same belief on both sides of the paper -- and you believe it!

As you go through the process, you may need to modify the bolstering belief as pieces of your unconscious negative talk come through. For example, if your bolstering belief is "I deserve to make a lot of money" and you uncover the fact that you feel guilty about making more money than other members of your family, you might change it to "I deserve to make a lot of money, regardless of the financial situation of my family". Just keep the process going. You'll know when it feels 'finished'.

As a final note, if you start the process and find that you keep having the same 'first thought', just stick with it. When a belief is really strong (and most of these are, or you wouldn't be experiencing an inability to create what you want), it presents opposition to being exposed. Eventually, you'll relax with the process and other thoughts will surface. Remember to take a lot of slow deep breaths and I strongly urge you to do this longhand.

?2001 Louise Morganti Kaelin

Author's Bio: 

Louise Morganti Kaelin is a Life Success Coach who partners with others to help them turn their dreams into reality. Visit and register to win a free month of coaching. To subscribe to "The 3-Minute Coach" a free bi-monthly newsletter offering tools and strategies to support you in living the life you truly want, visit her website or