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Affirmation Troubleshooting: How to Make Affirmations Work

Affirmations are a great way to improve your life, but what happens when they don’t work? What is the best way to make affirmations work for you?

These questions and more will be answered in this blog post. To maximize your affirmations for success, you must have a clear goal, know why you’re using them, and use them correctly. Let’s get started.

This is part II of the post What are Affirmations and How do Affirmations Work?

Woman wondering how to make affirmations work

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Are Affirmations Really Effective?

Remember, affirmations are as effective as you make them. Affirmations aren’t magic, and they won’t help you change your life by uttering them once or twice and then forgetting about them.

Affirmations work best when they’re clearly aligned with what you want, they’re powerful, present tense, and positive, and you’ve released all your expectation of getting what you want.

Here are a few ways that you can use affirmations in your daily life to make a change:

Affirmations work when you write them down and can read them often
  1. Write your affirmation(s) in a journal every day.
  2. Take up a meditation practice, and, using mala beads, state your affirmation during meditation.
  3. Write your affirmation or print it out and post it in different places, like:
    1. the fridge
    2. your bathroom mirror
    3. inside your closet
    4. in your office
  4. Put it on all your devices:
    1. as wallpaper or lock screen on your phone
    2. as a wallpaper on your computer
    3. as wallpaper or lock screen on your tablet
  5. Say your affirmations during walking, showering, or driving

Remember in the above answer that you need to focus on feeling however you’d like to feel (more details on this below). All these different ways to practice affirmations can help you find more balance and positivity in your life.

Just like practicing an instrument to get better or running every day to get faster, you need to practice your affirmations with emotions to really lock down that change in your life.

Remember that excellence does not happen overnight.

Psychologists say that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in something. The more you practice your affirmations, the more they will be effective in your life.

Why Don’t Affirmations Work?

If your affirmations aren’t working, consider several things, namely, what I just outlined above. Here are some possible reasons your affirmations aren’t working.

1) you’re not clear on what you want
2) your affirmations aren’t aligned with what you want
3) they aren’t emotionally powerful
4) they aren’t using powerful language
5) you haven’t released your expectations
6) you need to do the work

This sounds like a lot of criteria, so let’s break down each one.

1) You need to get clear on what you want.

Getting clear on what you want isn’t always easy. It means clearing through all of our social conditioning, breaking through our trauma, and being honest with ourselves.

You might be thinking you want a new floor in your kitchen, and you’ve decided to try to manifest it. But what is it that you really want?

Maybe you want to impress the neighbors when they visit.

Maybe you want your floor to aesthetically match your cabinets better.

Maybe you want to avoid another conversation with your mother, who will say, for the hundredth time, that you still haven’t replaced that kitchen floor.

The universe wants to give you what you want. So in the first case, maybe you end up writing an award-winning book (and it impresses the neighbors). In the second case, maybe you get a new floor. In the third case, you might get an ugly conversation with your mother and a realization that you need to set stronger boundaries.

RELATED POST: 20 Sets of Affirmation Cards to Help You Manifest What You Want

2) You need to align your affirmations with what you want.

Woman manifesting a new kitchen floor

Now that you have a better idea of what you actually want, you can use affirmations to make those things come true in your life with the Law of Attraction. And remember, because of metacognition, you’ll be more likely to recognize the things you’re getting from the universe.

Here are some affirmations based on the above situations:

1) I am fierce and fabulous. Others look up to me and admire my qualities and my life.
2) I live in a stunning, magnificent home. Its aesthetic beauty pleases me each morning as I awake.
3) I am strong. I set boundaries to protect my sanity. I confront difficult conversations with integrity and ease.

When your affirmations are aligned with your true desires, they’re more likely to be decisive for you.

3) Your affirmations need to be emotionally powerful.

Affirmations are not the place to play it safe. Set your sights high and be specific with how you want to feel.

DON’T: I feel good about the future.

DO: I am thinking about the future, feeling strong, powerful, and excited!

Affirmations are MOST potent when you feel them.

Evoking that emotion in your life will help you practice your habits and feel successful in them. Many metaphysical gurus and scientists (like Dr. Joe Dispenza) call this the heart-brain. When you bring your heart-brain into your affirmations, you can truly make these affirmations come alive in your life.

When you experience these powerful, positive emotions, your BODY starts to get on board with the affirmations. Your brain is telling your body to favor this feeling and experience over other damaging habits.

Some of the most powerful feelings in the world include:

Using these emotions as a driving force when we write or look for our affirmations can help us maximize our affirmations’ effect on us! This is one way to help affirmations work for you.

RELATED POST: 54 Positive Self-Love Affirmations to Build Your Self-Worth
52 Positive Affirmations to Develop Your Unconditional Gratitude

4) You need to use stronger language in your emotions.

120 most empowering words

Words are the way that we express what we want. And the words we choose are either helpful or detrimental to getting what we want.

“Very happy” is not as powerful as “ecstatic.”

“Drive” and “ambition” are two very different things.

If you want to use more powerful language, there are two distinct things you can do. First, use powerful words. This is a list of 120 powerful words in the English language. Second, you can cuss. Yes, cussing is therapeutic and can help you make your affirmations more powerful.

5) You need to release expectations.

Now that you’ve chosen the right affirmations and made them powerful, these two final steps work together. The first is that you need to let the universe do its work.

If you really want admiration from your neighbors and friends, this could come in so many different forms. You could get that new floor, your child could win an award, you could win a car, or you could publish a bestselling book.

You need to be open to all different avenues.

6) You need to do the work.

But you can’t rely on the universe to do everything. If you are trying to manifest a healthy relationship with your mother, you can’t run and hide every time she does something that crosses a boundary. You have to be willing to confront the tough stuff.

Besides, if you’re actively avoiding certain things in your life, how will you know when the universe is trying to give you something?

The Law of Attraction works best when you’re actively guiding your life and keeping your eyes open to the generosity and splendor of the universe. This is vital to make your affirmations work for you.

How many affirmations at a time should I use?

Now that you have a better idea of fixing your affirmations let’s discuss how many you should be using. Really, this depends on your goal.

If your goal is specific, then you should use one or two specific affirmations.

If your goal is a more general one, or you have many different changes you’re making, then you may opt for more affirmations to make a more general alteration in your life.

Personally, I have a tendency to have more general goals; therefore, I usually use 4-5 affirmations at once.

I don’t recommend using too many, however. First, you won’t be able to memorize them all if you use too many. Also, you may lose the potency or potential of each affirmation with each one that you add.

The more specific that you are with your affirmations, the more specific and powerful results you will have in your life.

When should I use affirmations?

If you’re not seeing results with your affirmations, you likely aren’t using them often enough or in ways that will most benefit your life and lifestyle.

For example, if you only say your affirmation once a day, in the morning while in the shower, you’re not giving that affirmation maximum exposure time.

Maximum exposure means maximum results. Refer back to the top for ideas when to use them.

Use Them When They’re A Challenge

One effective way to make affirmations work for you is to challenge yourself. You need to be using the affirmation when the OPPOSITE temptation arises.

Let’s say you are using your affirmation to become calmer, as in that second example above. The shower is a pretty calm environment already. But if you’re at school doing playground duty and a parent comes over to scold you for disciplining her child in class the other day—you’d better use that opportunity, while the other woman is chewing you out, to say to yourself:

My inner world is calm. I always feel at peace and at ease!


My inner world is calm. I always feel at peace and at ease!


My inner world is calm. I always feel at peace and at ease!

Then when the woman is done yelling, you can reply calmly.

Utilize Thinking to Make Affirmation Work

Woman using affirmations while she is washing the dishes to help erase her negative feelings and limiting beliefs

Another thing to consider is when during a regular day do you do most of your thinking? While getting ready for the day? When on your commute to work? During nightly dishwashing?

These are times that you spend in your inner world. You are alone with your thoughts. What kinds of words are you saying to yourself?

One of the things that people often do while alone with their thoughts is to rehearse bad things that happened that day or week or year or in your childhood. You replay them again and again.

Evolutionarily this served us well because it helped us analyze possible dangerous situations and learn how to avoid them in the future. But this is one of those things that doesn’t translate to our modern world very well.

When you replay moments of stress, anguish, grief, pain, hatred, or turmoil, you are wiring those emotions and thoughts into your brain (just as in the example in the question above.)

Affirmations can break the cycle of rehearsing negative experiences.

If you’re expecting affirmations to miraculously bring mind-blowing things into your life, then you need to couple your affirmations with other principles for manifestation. Affirmations are only a small PIECE of the process of manifesting, which I am not covering here.

How long should I use affirmations?

Changing your habits takes time. If your affirmations aren’t working, you might not have been practicing them long enough.

With affirmations, the goal is to literally rewire your brain to send the right signals to the universe. You’re breaking yourself out of old, toxic habits and replacing them with new, positive ones. Changing your brain chemistry and neural pathways isn’t going to happen overnight. Getting the universe to perceive that change may take even longer.

This is an old video of Dr. Joe Dispenza (from April 2012) talking about how to literally rewire your brain and go from “thinking” to “doing” to “being.” It’s worth a watch.

People who can use affirmations quickly to manifest change in their lives are the people who have been doing this a long time.

Think about when you first learn something new, like riding a bike. The first time you get on a bike, you’re probably wobbly and fall over. The next time, maybe you peddle a couple of times. But each time you get on the bike, you get a little bit better at it. Before long, you can hop on your bike and ride around with no problem.

The real change comes when you decide to challenge yourself to go faster or start learning tricks. When you decide to master something, that’s when you really start to see results.

Remember that excellence does not happen overnight.


Affirmations have helped me believe in myself, build an online business, start getting our finances in order, and be patient with my children. I have used this positivity in my efforts to manifest some pretty serious stuff in my life, and I’m well on my way.

If your affirmations aren’t working, use the steps outlined here, and you’ll be there in no time.

And don’t forget: the affirmations aren’t the destination. It’s about the journey. It’s about each small moment of your life that creates your whole existence. You don’t want to sacrifice the journey for the destination. Ideally, your affirmations will enhance your entire experience.


Affirmations for Finding a Healthy Relationship
Affirmations for Success
Affirmations for Health & Fitness

Also check out our collection of printable affirmation cards based on our affirmations here.

troubleshooting affirmations what to do when they don't work

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