AffirMirror is a unique App for Android and Apple devices which can record a positive video message of yourself, and then repeat it back the chosen number of times (download here). This is known as self-affirmation.
The purpose of this is to maintain mental well-being, promote self development, and alleviate individual suffering.
Are we suggesting that these benefits can be gained by simply watching a repeating video of yourself? Absolutely not, in fact being conscious of a phrase such as “I will be rich soon” is likely to yield the entirely opposite result as your conscious, rational mind will likely begin to list all the obstacles to this being achieved. (Jump to Quick-Tips).
What we are aiming to do through the use of AffirMirror is train our unconscious mind to accept positive inputs, as it is in this mental arena that our realities are formed.
This may already be starting to sound like new-age mumbo-jumbo to you. However be assured that this idea is certainly not new, in fact St Thomas of Aquinas of 13th Century Italy writes :
“every idea conceived by the mind is an order which the organism obeys… it can also engender a disease or cure it”
Farther back the ancient philosophers Greeks Pythagoras and Aristotle left us with similar sentiments as to the dominance of the mental over the physical.
But in recent times it would appear that we have forgotten these insights. This is perhaps understandable in a world of incredible scientific advances which cure, entertain and connect us (note that we are conscious of these). With regards to food we now tend to trust what we are told from central authorities, food producers and nutritionists rather than local, home-spun wisdom; what our grandmother (or even great grandmothers) would have served to us. In much the same way we now look to external providers; companies that produce anti-depressants, GPs who prescribe them, psychologists with years of learning to maintain our mental well being.
However, much as with our eating habits, we are missing out on a huge resource by relying on only these 3rd parties. We need to begin to remember the power of the unconscious mind. Please read on, where we hope to convince you that this is not, in fact, mumbo-jumbo 🙂
How can we demonstrate that the body (that is our limbs and organs) is subservient to the mind? A simple thought experiment will demonstrate this. Clear your mind as best you can, and imagine yourself sucking on a juicy lemon. If the image called to mind is vivid enough you will find yourself salivating. In fact studies have shown that you will produce nearly as much saliva as if you were actually eating a lemon (please note this works best if you are well hydrated!).
So a mental image produced a physical result. But let us consider the process behind how you found yourself salivating over an imaginary lemon. As we have said the mind is divided into two separate but interacting realms, that of the conscious and the unconscious.
By definition we cannot be aware of the unconscious mind, but it is there that all impressions, memories, thoughts are stored. Further, it is the regulator of our bodily functions. Consider the case of sleep-walkers, who can navigate around their abodes and perform tasks, and yet are unaware of having done so the next day. Also consider your heart-beat; beat it does, supplying the correct blood-flow as the situation demands. However at no point do you have to will this action to occur. Therefore the unconscious mind is both store-house and overseer, providing the materials and knowledge for our actions.
The conscious mind is by contrast what we are aware of, and therefore has become what we refer to principally when we make statements such as “I know my own mind”. In the conscious mind we both draw thoughts and feelings from the unconscious, and present the unconscious mind with the same for storage. It can be though of as the interface between the vast and powerful unconscious realm that lives in us all, and the physical reality of our world.
What we must understand if we are to harness the potential of self-affirmation is that while the unconscious is the regulator of our bodies, storehouse and melting pot for all the information that makes us who we are (and therefore incredibly powerful), it can also be easily lead.
This is seen in the imaginary-lemon experiment. You did not consciously think “I may be about to eat a lemon, I better start salivating”. Rather you conjured the image in your conscious mind thus presenting it to the unconscious mind, which in turn sent signals to your saliva glands to begin production. It is only once saliva is produced that you are aware of this.
Remember that the conscious mind was merely a staging-area. What created the reality, and is therefore the true agent, is the unconscious mind.
Other examples of this would be our environment seeming to be more threatening as the result of merely watching a scary movie, or our mood being lifted after having seen an old friend.
So we can see how the unconscious mind can be easily lead, and that this can alter our reality. With this accepted, we begin to see that if we consciously think “this task is impossible”, “I’ll never get over this”, or even “I feel like I’m coming down with a cold” can enter our unconscious, and therefore have a bearing on the reality.
Happily the reverse is also true, and with AffirMirror and the techniques of the brilliant French psychologist (1857-1926) Emile Coué we can begin to direct our unconscious mind to our advantage. Coué, in his book “My Method” provides some simple guidance as to how we may use AffirMirror:
What affirmation should I use?
Coué suggest that to begin with we use a generic, positive message that captures the idea of progress towards a better state, and this advice is still sound today. Therefore begin by recording yourself saying the phrase
“Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”
Why use this phrase, rather than something specific such as “my pain is lessening”, “I will be a financial success” and so on? It comes back to the interplay between the conscious and the unconscious mind. When we say something will come to pass, our conscious mind (or our will) begins to process this, and likely begin to return the reasons while it will occur, as the result of it’s rationalising influence. With the simpler message “in every way” we trust in our unconscious mind to know what it is that we need to improve, and “better and better” again leaves the details to our imaginations. Therefore the message is more likely to be accepted by the unconscious mind, free of the influence of the conscious.
When and where should I use AffirMirror?
Sleep is of course where the unconscious mind is at it’s most active, and it is as near to this state as possible that we can begin to implant our positive thoughts into it. Therefore record your message and listen back to it at least once, preferably twice a day during the transition between wake and rest. as for the actual recording of the message, be sure to be in a comfortable position, clear your mind as fully as possible, and say the phrase calmly with as little emphasis as possible. Again this is to avoid our conscious mind becoming too overactive; saying the phrase forcefully would surely make us process it further. Coué advises that we begin with a minimum of twenty repetitions.
When will I begin to see results?
Again this is the incorrect question to be asking, as it involves the conscious. We are implanting positive thoughts into the unconscious mind, and the benefits of this are unlikely to be instantly tangible. Much as the farmer plants his seeds then waits for them to germinate, we must adopt this attitude with regards to self-affirmation. Continuing the crop-analogy, if the farmer were to check if the seeds had sprouted he would damage the plants during the inspection. So it is with the results of using AffirMirror as described; persistence with the method and faith in the eventual outcome are required. However, for the reasons described in the preceding sections, we can be confident of improvement in time.
Acknowledgements and Further reading
This essay is a work in progress and we hope to add to and refine it going forwards. Any thoughts or feedback will be gratefully received.
This brief text is based heavily on the work of Emile Coué. I can only hope that I have done his brilliant and simple ideas justice.
All comments gratefully received.
- The Practice of Autosuggestion by C. Harry Brooks – E-Book
- AudioEnlightenment – Audio Introduction – YouTube
- Psychology Today – Do Self-Affirmations Work? A revisit
- Stanford University – A Lecture in Psychology: The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention