Attention all affirmation devotees and vision board enthusiasts. Please put down your scissors and pause your recordings for a special announcement: if you’re only using these rituals to better yourself or manifest a dream, chances are they won’t work.
In this second edition of our two-part series on the Spring of Fear, we are tackling some myths about these two very popular rituals and some misconceptions they carry. Part of the reason they alone don’t work is because we have an amazing, complex, highly dynamic machine floating between our ears.
It’s a fine-tuned machine made to keep us safe not necessarily to make us happy. Our brain’s purpose is to generate a lot of fear warnings. In fact, your brain can’t tell the difference between real danger and false fear.
Vision boards and affirmations don’t work with how our brain processes fear. They alone aren’t enough to tackle the flight-fight response of the amygdala. To make a lasting transformation you need to dig much deeper and develop real personal transformation through conditioning. In other words: you need to practice not being afraid of what scares you.
Let us illustrate what we mean… We present you two characters: The Visionary and Think Positive. The Visionary uses a vision board to manifest his dream body and relationship. His roommate is Think Positive. She’s goal-oriented and wants more recognition and money at work. She listens to affirmations every day to keep her focused and motivated.
ACT ONE INT. LIVING ROOM IN THE COMFORT ZONE The Visionary: (Holds up vision board) What do you think? Think Positive: (On couch, looks up from her phone) Are you high on glue? You’ll never look like that! The Visionary: Why do you always make me feel bad? Think Positive: You want me to lie? You’re very handsome. You know that.
(Looks at her phone) Crap! I lost a thousand dollars on Bitcoin. The Visionary: (Sarcastically) So your affirmations are working, huh?
Repeat after me: I am a magnet for money… I am a magnet for money… Think Positive: (Returns sarcasm) Add more glitter. Maybe it’ll get you lose a few inches.
In Act One, our characters find themselves on The Drama Triangle. One easily lives with roles as a victim, villain or rescuer. They have no sense of responsibility for their actions, thoughts, and feelings.
First, we have Think Positive masking insults as honesty (villain) (“You want me to lie?”). Then we have The Visionary blaming her for his poor self-worth (victim), (“Why do you always make me feel bad?”) and then Think Positive feels badly and rather than taking ownership and apologizing she attempts to manipulate his hurt feelings by placating them with compliment (rescuer): “You’re very handsome. You know that.”
To lose weight and make more money, both characters must have awareness of what keeps them from doing these things. They must take responsibility for the roles they play on the triangle. Yet, neither does. Vision boards and affirmations alone don’t get you off the triangle.
Now let’s move on to another act. Let’s see what happens when our characters are faced with the reality of their dreams.
ACT TWO INT. LIVING ROOM OF THE COMFORT ZONE Think Positive: (Crosses room. Angrily throws suitcase on couch.) They gave it to Alison! The Visionary: No! Why? Think Positive: (Dejected) I even worked weekends. The Visionary: I’m sorry. You should leave that job. It’s toxic. Text comes into The Visionary’s phone. The Visionary: (Checks his phone) My date just cancelled. What the hell?! He tosses phone aside. Think Positive: I should leave that company and go where I can be appreciated. The Visionary: Ya! People just don’t appreciate you.
(Grabs his phone) This woman reminds me of the model on my board but she’s so dumb. Think Positive: They told me I’m not a team player!
Everyday I remind myself: I’m the best team player. I’m the best on the team. The Visionary: At least you have a partner to help you through this. I hate being alone! Think Positive: Me too. That’s why I’m spending the night at his place. The Visionary: You’re leaving me?! Fine. I’m texting Jackie. Think Positive scoffs wryly. The Visionary: (Cont’d.) What? Everyone needs a back-up.
Think of the times you’ve wanted something so badly and it didn’t arrive or it arrived in a different package. What was your reaction? Did you blame outside forces? Did you look for the lessons? Did you dissect what went wrong and what worked?
If you don’t look for the lessons, chances are you’re in the comfort zone. It’s a place of emotional, mental, and spiritual complacency. Living in it, people repeat disempowering behaviors.
Our characters are unaware that as we move toward our vision we have to leave The Comfort Zone. Whether that means being alone to figure yourself out or being willing to see where your ego gets in the way, if you want to move up, you have to move out. Emotionally intelligent people use hardships to manifest their dreams.
The movement toward our dreams is scary but you have to acknowledge the fear and consciously disrupt it. Having what we want can be terrifying because the closer we are to manifesting a vision, the further we are from our comfort zone. (Remember: We may not like our comfort zone but it is familiar and familiar is safe!)
If only our characters could give themselves a moment to sit through disappointment and sadness, far away from The Drama Triangle. If only they could see the fun with discovering their strengths away from The Comfort Zone. If only they could consciously disrupt their behavior and get curious about what is driving their choices.
Affirmations and vision boards don’t guide us through this process. They don’t pull you through the journey from The Comfort Zone to the I’m-Super-Vulnerable-And-I-Don’t-Like-It-Zone because they don’t provide the deep transformation that happens when we allow ourselves to momentarily linger in discomfort.
Productive Learning trainers see how some clients bolt from their vulnerability while others wrestle with themselves until they benefit from the lessons. The latter are the ones who are more likely to become extraordinary thinkers.
Creating colorful vision boards and repeating affirmations work in tandem with self-awareness, self-responsibility, and self-understanding. But if you only focus on a collage of pictures or positive affirmations then you left out some very important pieces of the puzzle.
Unless you can accept your fears nothing will happen. You’ll be like The Visionary, who runs from fear of being alone. Or, like Think Positive who annoys others with her goal obsession and is unaware of how her actions affect the team.
The purpose of learning to manifest dreams is that we transform along the way. Out of The Comfort Zone we face our fears, our truths, we have to make that phone call we dread; or apologize after 17 years of not speaking; or hire a dating coach or take that trip to South America.
The further we are from our comfort zone the closer we are to our dreams. But if we gloss over the need to step out of it, to break away from the triangle then we are like these well-meaning characters.
Speaking of which… let’s see if they’re any better now…
ACT THREE INT. LIVING ROOM OF THE COMFORT ZONE One year later… The Visionary: You got the job you wanted. Stop complaining! Think Positive: (annoyed) But Alison got the pay raise! (Checks her watch) Shouldn’t you be getting ready? The Visionary: I broke up with Jackie. Think Positive: Why?! She’s great! The Visionary: Since my body transformation she’s gotten boring. Think Positive: I don’t know of anybody who works out three times a day. The Visionary: Look at me! This was my vision. I made it happen! Think Positive: Didn’t the doctor tell you to stop losing weight?
And where’s the hot woman, the mansion and the Ferrari? The Visionary: Well I just started seeing a new doctor and she drives a Porsche. Think Positive: While dating Jackie? Affirmations gives judgmental look of disapproval. The Visionary: Don’t! Focus on you: ask your boss for feedback. Like Alison. Think Positive: She’s brown nosing. The Visionary: Well. She’s doing something right. Think Positive: What if they say something awful? The Visionary: Then you’ll know what they really think. Think Positive: I am enough as I am. Why should I listen to them?
(Points at the coffee table) What’s with the mess? The Visionary: I’m making a new board.
Without accepting our fears, learning about ourselves, our assumptions, preconceived notions and default thinking we could have our dreams, accomplish our goals and still feel miserable or less than. So many of us think the accomplishment of our goal is the result we are looking for. But how many people do you know have the relationship, the house, the money, the popularity and still feel like something is missing?
It is! Your growth and transformation are missing. Your new results are still being looked at with the same thoughts and assumptions. So the goal keeps moving. We want more! That will make us feel better!
It’s the obstacles that create the lessons. Our characters haven’t made that connection. The reality is that, at times, we are both of these characters.
So many of us are like Think Positive. We suppress negative thinking (in her case, feedback) because we believe we should only think good thoughts. Others act like The Visionary and we focus so much on the outcome that we refuse to acknowledge the lessons on the journey. We try to control and manipulate circumstances.
Affirmations and vision boards are necessary tools AND they don’t teach us to embrace the inconvenient feelings for personal growth. Journeying away from the comfort zone requires one to keep an eye on the vision while simultaneously acknowledging the part of you that is worried, afraid, and anxious about stepping into unknown territory. Only then you can turn to a vision board and positive affirmations as a way to enhance the journey.
Life keeps giving us chances to grow. One act after another, one scene after another, we can transform. But we must consciously disrupt our habitual ways of thinking and behaviors before we supplement the journey with rituals.
In the stage of life, we are characters looking for things to soothe our doubt, fear, and anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you are willing to accept the totality of the journey including the wins, losses, challenges, and lessons.
If you choose to accept the path of transformation then one result we can guarantee is that you will feel content, and peaceful regardless of external circumstances. Now that is something to vision board about!