Positive Affirmations: A Hoax

I saw a video where a woman manifested that she would get the job she had applied for. She sat in her room, holding a crystal chanting to herself, “you will succeed, you will be successful.” Evidently, she got the job, went on the internet, and broadcasted to her followers that the “power of manifestation” led to her success. I highly doubt that. Off camera, she was most likely simply qualified for the position. She didn’t manifest her way to a career, she worked for it, but simplified that process into invoking a manifestation. Honestly, it’s deceiving, because she convinced the other millions of people who watched the video into thinking that her affirmations are the reason her interview worked out well. That sense of “I can do it too” is dangerous to those who then won’t do anything else about their problems.

I don’t believe in positive affirmations. Frankly, they can be harmful. I think they are so popular because people want to manifest surrounded by crystals for the aesthetic. Everyone dreams about being the person surrounded by crystals, ivy hanging on the wall: calm, cool, and collected. I have friends (we all do) that use manifestations as a crutch. I was sitting at breakfast with a friend who had not studied for her test during first period, and I watched as she held a crystal in her hand, wishing—manifesting—100 percent on her test. The irony was poignant to me: instead of spending those thirty minutes studying, she held a crystal and wished her problem would go away. Evidently, she and I disagree on affirmations.

Positive affirmations seem to stem from an internal source of inadequacy. We feel like something is wrong, and we don’t know how to fix it. From that powerlessness comes a sense of need for change. I have felt it before—we all have. When we don’t get the grade we had hoped for on a test, we wish we could go back in time to “manifest” a better result, or a better result in the future. Yet most of the time, that change is fully within our control. When something goes wrong, a lot of people think that they can sit idly by. Rather than analyzing what happened, they think they can affirm it away. We cannot just wish away a problem, we have to do something about it.

It’s not pessimism that is driving this “I don’t believe in positive affirmations” thing I have going. I am able to look at the environment around me and know that if I work hard enough, I might see change. It’s the drive that changes us, not chanting words in our bedrooms. I like and try to believe that if we work hard enough we can achieve almost anything. That sounds lofty and flowery, I know. Of course there are exceptions, but if we put our minds to something and work hard enough, we can often achieve our goals or get pretty close. Of course, this is through a lens of privilege, and we live in a world where our education and our identity dictate how close we can actually get to our goals. It isn’t easy for everyone, and often privilege and advantage lend a major hand in establishing the goals in the first place. Want to learn a new language? Learn it. Work for it, but we aren’t going to learn a new language by saying “I manifest that I will be fluent tomorrow.”

If we want good things to come to us, we have to do something about it. We cannot just sit in our beds and say out loud that we will be happy, that we will get a good grade on a test. Instead of wasting time, we should study, practice, challenge ourselves, and do things that make us happy. Even in the face of adversity, we cannot wish away our obstacles, instead we can find creative ways to circumvent them. We need to make up our mind, and make the choices everyday to improve ourselves, or to be happier. Everyone has power within themselves, whether they recognize it or not, to make a change in their lives. If we want to develop our style, we should dedicate ourselves to combing the dark reaches of the internet for new trends, or the perfect pair of jeans. If we want to learn how to do pottery, spend time in a studio, and study the art. Initiative is key, and if we want something bad enough, we will work for it.

This is not meant to be some lofty speech. It is meant more as a reminder that we don’t have to rely on words to lift us up. We have the power to do so for ourselves. Our actions matter, and if we make them count, it carries a lot more weight than positive manifestations. It’s like they say: actions speak louder than words. I like to believe that’s true. Be confident, work hard, and have enough faith in yourself to work for what you want.