Personal Power

Affirmations: 3 Reasons Why Saying You’re Happy Doesn’t Always Work (And How To Fix It)

We’ve all heard of affirmations. You know, when you stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself that you’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it people like you!

It’s true affirmations have a positive effect… but very few people experience it because they are given an incomplete picture of what and how affirmations really work.

Today I’m going to share with you the 3 main reasons why they don’t work — and then I’m going to show you how to fix that so you can actually experience the power that affirmations can really bring to your life. Let’s do it:

1. Lying to yourself doesn’t work… here’s what does.

The lesson most people are taught is if you want to be happy you should sit around and say “I’m happy, I’m happy, I’m happy!”

Why doesn’t this work? Because your brain immediately says “bullshit!”

You’re not going to force yourself to be happy when you feel like there’s nothing to be happy about!

This goes for any emotion — if you feel like you have no reason to be confident, saying “I’m confident” isn’t going to do it.

If you want to be happy, confident, grateful, or excited — you must have reasons to be these things otherwise your brain will shut you down immediately.

But here’s the thing: if we truly thought about it — don’t we all have things we can be grateful for? Happy about? Excited about?

Well if right now you’re feeling crappy, angry, frustrated, pissed off, upset — the immediate answer you might give me is “no”.

That’s what happened to me when I was trying to figure this stuff out. I would sit and say “I’m happy, I’m happy, I’m happy…”

And my brain would come back right away and say “no you’re not.”

So I took a different approach and asked “What AM I happy about?”

The first answer that came back was “NOTHING!”

But I didn’t stop there.  I asked “What COULD I be happy about if I wanted to?”

(SIDE NOTE: Always remember, the quality of your life is determined by the quality of questions you ask)

It took a few tries but I started to come up with several things I was actually happy for in that moment. And when I thought about those things that I was actually happy for — suddenly the affirmation of “I’m happy” didn’t seem like the lie it once did. All of a sudden I had several reasons to be happy because I dug them out of me.

So first and foremost before any “affirmation” we need to build references. References that support these affirmations. What ARE you happy about?  What is something you ARE confident about? What COULD you be grateful for if you really thought about it?

Don’t be discouraged if, at first, you come back with nothing. Ask again. And again. And again if you have to. If you keep asking expecting an answer your brain will give you reasons why you are happy, grateful, healthy, wealthy, wise, good enough, smart enough, and a whole bunch of reasons why those gosh darn people like you!

2. The “Secret” is “delusion”

I can’t help it… any time someone mentions “The Secret” — I groan.


Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.

Sitting around visualizing checks showing up in your mailbox is not going to make it happen.

Eating cheesy poofs on the couch dreaming about a six pack is not going to make it happen.

What is going to make it happen? Hustle. Hard work. ACTION.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest there IS something to be said about positive expectancy.

But here’s how that works:

Step 1. You want something (expecting you can do it)

Step 2. You create a plan to achieve it (expecting it will work)

Step 3. You fail, change your strategy, and try again (still expecting you can do it)

Step 4. Repeat Step 3 until you get what you want

Affirmations are not about lying to yourself or getting something for nothing. Affirmations are about reminding ourselves that we are far more powerful than we normally demonstrate.

3. Are you begging or commanding?

The final reason affirmations fail to give people what they’re looking for is because they are WIMPY.

If affirmations are done right — with intense emotion behind them you will be buzzing with so much energy and passion and joy and determination that whatever you do next you’re going to rock it like never before. And next time I get you into one of our live events you’re going to experience this first hand.

Real affirmations (Tony calls them INCANTATIONS) are not about begging for happiness or confidence — real affirmations are about taking back what’s rightfully yours.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, adult, or child — affirmations are the battle cries that should scare the hell out of your enemies — enemies like fear and doubt, enemies like failure and disappointment — anything that stands in your way from achieving your dreams.

Because, in the end, confidence is the thing that wins the day. But who’s more confident — you… or your fears?


The thing is you really do deserve an amazing body, fulfilling relationships, a successful career and business — you deserve all of these things because we all do. 

If you do these affirmations right you’ll remind yourself of this.

Do you use affirmations? What seems to work for you? Which ones made the biggest difference? Any tips you have for other people?



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About Me

Hey, I'm Stephen. I believe that we are in control of our destiny and we can choose to create the life of our dreams. As the National Trainer for Tony Robbins I advise and consult with Fortune 500 companies, executives, managers and professionals in the areas of peak performance, leadership, organizational behavior, psychology of achievement, and sales.