There are many theories about using affirmations for success. The most common theories, however, have misled many folks into believing things which simply are not true.

I’d like to take a moment and set the record straight.

The theory most often taught says, “the subconscious mind cannot process a negative, and therefore interprets any negative phrase incorrectly.”

One of the classic examples of this is an affirmations like, “I will not get sick.” According to the traditional teachings, our minds will ALWAYS interpret this as, “I will get sick.”

Traditional Affirmations for Success

Before I provide ample evidence showing where the traditional teachings are wrong, I want to give credit where credit is due. There is a psychological principle, which is normally taught in courses on conversational hypnosis like my “Keys To Power Persuasion” course, called the “Pink Elephant Principle.” This principle describes how our inner minds are literally forced to imagine anything and everything we hear or read in order to understand what is being said.

Again, the classic example is this. Whatever you do, do NOT think of a pink elephant.

It cannot be done. You may be able to avoid forming a picture in your mind of a pink elephant in a lacy tutu standing on a large ball holding a feather, but your inner mind THINKS of it long enough to understand what you’re supposed to avoid doing.

Additionally, experts in conversational hypnosis are able to issue “embedded commands” within a larger sentence. As a result, they can tell someone, “please don’t feel compelled to give me your wallet” and the person almost invariably complies with the subliminal message.

On the surface, this may give further support to the idea that our inner minds cannot process a negative, but the secret to embedded commands is HOW they are spoken. In the example above, special emphasis is given to the words “feel compelled to.” If this emphasis was not given, the ‘trick’ wouldn’t work.

Because of the Pink Elephant Principle, and the effects of conversational hypnosis, some folks have incorrectly assumed that the mind cannot process a negative, such as the words ‘not’ or ‘no’.

Can Negatively-Phrased Affirmations for Success Produce Positive Results?

Perhaps what should be the most obvious flaw in the traditional teaching is one that may be the most easily overlooked. If our inner minds could not process a negative, then how did we accumulate such words into our language to begin with?

Since all language is processed by our inner minds before being stored as memories, it logically follows that we could not remember anything our inner minds could not process. And this being so, anything we have stored in our memories MUST be something our inner minds are capable of processing.

The sheer fact that many people have powerfully strong negative memories of a parent saying things like, “you’ll never amount to anything,” “you’re no good,” or “you’re no genius” proves the idea that “our inner minds cannot process a negative” to be false. If it were true, these early memories would have been stored as “you’ll amount to anything,” “you’re good,” and “you’re genius” respectively, and be incredibly positive influences in our lives.

Those who support the traditional teachings will immediately respond by saying this isn’t what they are talking about. It’s what they SAY, but not what they MEAN. Of course, when they say this, they are admitting they don’t really know what they’re talking about. If they did, they’d say what they mean.

Pushed on this point, those who support the traditional teaching will admit that it depends on what the person FOCUSES upon in the affirmation. In our original affirmation example of “I will not get sick,” if the person focuses on the words, “get sick” then that’s what happens. Otherwise, if they focus on the word, “not”, the affirmation proves more effective.

This is what an expert persuader does when they apply emphasis on an embedded command – they direct the listener to focus upon the part of the phrase they want them to act upon, such as “feel compelled to give me your wallet.”

Here’s another example. In sports, many athletes are taught to use affirmations such as, “there is no pain”. Sure enough, their inner minds correctly interpret the phrase and reduce the level of pain. If their inner minds could not process the negative, the pain would increase, not decrease.

Supporters of the traditional teachings will further state that our inner minds naturally and automatically focus upon the negative aspects of an affirmation. Perhaps this happens to them because they have conditioned themselves to LOOK for negative words and phrases in order to eliminate them from their own speech. But to say it happens for everyone is naïve and ill-informed.

A List of “Negative” Affirmations That Work

Below is a list of affirmations that may not seem to be 100% positive, yet have produced great results for those who have used them. I’m not suggesting you SHOULD use these, but merely pointing out that if your affirmations look like these, it’s okay. Don’t let anyone tell you your own affirmations are not “good enough.”

1.I don’t get sick.

2.Life doesn’t have to be hard. It can be easy, and my new mindset is opening the doors for an easy life experience.

3.The negative experiences of my past no longer have any power over me. I am free from them and look forward to expressing my true potential.

4.Things are not as bad as I think they are.

5.I have fewer problems than most people.

6.I have no problem saying ‘no’ to anyone when it’s the right answer.

7.I am not controlled by any outside person or substance.

8.Although I enjoy being with other people, I do not need anyone else in my life to be happy.

9.I do not need any person or thing to be happy.

10.I maintain my self-control and do not overindulge my appetites.

11.I do not allow others to pressure me into doing something I’d rather not do.

12.I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone.

13.I refuse to feel guilty because someone wants something that I do not want to give them.

14.The past does not determine the future.

In the end, what really matters is the results you get from your affirmations. If you resonate with 100% positive, sugar-coated affirmations, great! Otherwise, use something that feels a little closer to home.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Paull is a certified NLP practitioner and the author of the e-book, 'How Your Sub-Conscious Mind Works', which can be downloaded here: