Why Affirmations Have Not Worked For You


Many women of color in professional roles continue to experience difficulties in navigating their work environment. From dealing with microaggressions to feeling overwhelmed or overlooked, I come across several who have given up trying, succumbing to apathy; opting to just show up without really showing up. They have stopped pushing for the next promotion, stopped trying to foster relationships; content with just getting a steady paycheck. 

Some others though, despite the onslaught,  remain optimistic: hoping to find fulfillment, hoping to become more comfortable at work, hoping to be recognized for their contributions. To get through the workday, many of these women have begun to turn to spiritual and wellness practices. One of the coping mechanisms many of such women employ is Affirmations.  

the action or process of affirming something or being affirmed. A positive assertion or declaration. 

With the persistent surge in the wellness industry, affirmations have become big business. Books, websites, apps have all been developed to market the idea that you can re-train your mind to believe something positive simply by saying it out loud. 

So you’ve heard of affirmations. You’ve bought the books, subscribed to the blogs. You get the daily positive texts and read them religiously. So why aren’t they working? Why aren’t you feeling better about yourself?  Why do you continue to experience dissatisfaction in your career? Your personal life? 

Picture this. You wake up in the morning and say your affirmations. You have them on post-its all over your home, 'Mary-Jane Paul-style'. They feel good in the moment, you may even be able to visualize them coming true. 

However, by the time you get to work, check your email or have one microaggressive encounter, all of a sudden, your positive vibes are out the window. You are frazzled, upset, overwhelmed, tired, insecure, afraid, and unproductive. By 3pm, you have no recollection of the affirmations you said that morning. Where did all that warm, fuzzy vibes go?  

Why is this happening?

You have not dug deeply enough. 

You have not yet confronted the root cause behind your true feelings and you expect that simply speaking positively will change your circumstances. It’s like having an open heap of trash in your kitchen and spraying the area with perfume in an attempt to conceal the smell. 

Have you done or are your doing the self-work to identify the real problem?  From where did those negative core beliefs emanate?

Who taught you that you were not good enough? Not capable of success? Not as valuable as a White man?  

Who taught you that you had to be perfect to be accepted?  

Why do you believe you are dispensable? That you don’t deserve the best? Can’t be CEO? 

Why are you afraid that you won’t find the right job? That getting a job is based on luck and you can’t be too picky?

Where did you learn that you were unlikeable? Aggressive? Not interesting enough?

What other limiting core beliefs do you harbor deep within yourself?  Intentionally doing your “self-work” to identify the answers to these questions is the first step to ridding yourself of them. 

Spend some time with yourself and go deep. 

Identify the source and recognize them as lies. You were lied to and you believed it. The length of time it takes to heal will depend heavily on how long you’ve been carrying these with you, and how Intentional and consistent you are about overcoming them.

Seek the help of a therapist or coach depending on your needs.

Sometimes you need a bit more help. A different set of eyes. A neutral 3rd party who wants to see you succeed. A tried and tested approach to overcoming your particular challenge. Hiring a professional if need be, empowers you and creates space for you to begin to course-correct.  Decide that you are important enough to invest in. Decide that you no longer want to be held back or immobilized by these barriers.

Intelle clients benefit from a Career Success & Wellness package that not only focuses on addressing their career obstacles, but provides tools for them to identify and tackle limiting core beliefs.  We recognize the importance of building career success on a solid mental and emotional foundation. 

Affirmations can be a very effective tool; potent seeds that can bloom into beautiful gardens in our lives. But they need fertile soil before they can take root. Work on your soil, uproot the weeds, water your garden. Only then will your affirmations effect lasting change in your life.