AER can be integrated into almost any existing self-help or emotional wellness practice. In the case of affirmations, such as those proposed by Louise Hay, the typical scenario is that one uses regularly repeated phrases such as “I am lovable” to instill this thought into oneself.
There are two main problems with this approach:
- If one believes that they are not what the affirmation is saying (for example, that they are not lovable) then each saying of the affirmation will trigger tension inside between the affirmation and the belief. The pre-existing belief will usually win this battle and the person will end up feeling worse. Recent research has demonstrated that this is the case. The negative belief must be un-done first, before trying to instill some more positive thought. Otherwise, one is only trying to put whipped cream (positive affirmation) on the cow patty (negative belief).
- The approach of affirmations is usually based upon the concept that our thoughts are supreme and can override our emotions and gut instincts. Despite the fact that this notion is so easy to disprove, it is very prevalent. The unfortunate reality is that if our thoughts are not congruent with our emotions and instincts, all we are doing is creating stress for ourselves when we try to force a change in our thoughts.
The success stories that abound for the use of affirmations are more than likely due to people who were already with underlying beliefs that were congruent with the affirmations having them enhance and reinforce what was there.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to make good use of affirmations when one releases any conflicting beliefs with the help of AER. All one has to do is notice what messages come up (Body sensations, Emotions/feelings, Thoughts, Images, Sounds) when one uses an affirmation. If any of these are not supportive of the concept being affirmed, then they are most likely to be resisting the affirmation. One then finds the strongest of these, uses AER to facilitate the release of the underlying feeling(s), and thereby removes the road-block(s).
As a result of releasing using AER, one will then be able to use affirmations in a manner congruent with the rest of the self.