Why Affirmations Don't Work - and the Reason your Brain Needs Body and Nature for True Change

What we experience in the world is actually far more predictable than it sometimes seems, AND it's not because "the world works a certain way", it's because YOU do. Your brain's operating system is programmed to BELIEVE the world works in a certain way, and then it uses that OS like a search filter.  You exaggerate experiences that confirm your OS and ignore and forget experiences that don't (The confirmation bias). For example, if you keep ending up in the same job or relationship situation, that's a signal that your subconscious is hard at work keeping you in experiences that repeat and further entrench and support your OS. Yeah, the only way to actually level up your life is to take full responsibility for that OS, without shame, and take the steps needed to reprogram it.

When you change your operating system, you change your brain and body, you change your perception of the world, you change the actions you take because of those perceptions. And that is how, from the root up, you change your life.

Does it seem like I'm asking you to create affirmations? "I am abundant!" I'm not. 

Because affirmations don't work (on their own). And here's why.

Affirmations (language) affect the frontal lobe. The rational thinking centers of the brain. So yes, we can do our best to discover the "I'm not good enough" self talk and replace it with "I love myself I love myself..." 

However, that negative self talk is still a SYMPTOM of the operating system, it's the end result, not the beginning of it. So trying to change self talk through affirmations alone is like trying to weed your yard by cutting off the dandelion heads. They'll grow back stronger. We need to get to the root.

Our core OS originates in lower areas of the brain like the limbic system and parietal lobe (emotion, sensation, reaction) and were often developed during full bodied, pre-verbal (pre-frontal lobe) experiences. These parts of the brain process information 10-100 times faster than the frontal lobe. As in, you could have 100 transactions happen in your lower brain where you make split decisions about if you're safe or in danger, if you're loved or rejected before you even have your first conscious thought about the situation. That means they run the show. And it's their assessment of the situation that spits out your "self talk" as a way to "explain" the instantaneous reaction. 

So the root of your OS actually begins with an emotion, a sensation, that is processed through your web of past experience to determine if you need to be in survival mode, and if so, your brain has you act out even before the conscious mind can process, because if you're truly in life or death, split seconds matter.

In order to slow down the reaction of the lower brain, so that we can rewire the OS, we have to start bridging the gap between rational and pre-rational brain. So we have to learn to speak and translate each brain's own language.

If you can learn to notice and name the language of sensation in the body, then your pre-frontal cortex can actually "talk" with your limbic system. Keeping the two in connection is VITAL for successful rewiring at the root.

And if you can learn to view your external experiences as metaphors for your OS, you're beginning to speak the language of the parietal lobe - visual imagery - through which you also need to bring the new OS rewire. Being in nature stimulates and regulates the lower parts of the brain that were themselves evolutionarily designed over millions of years to function best in nature and helps us find visual metaphors to rebuild the new system.

If you want to make sustainable change, you need the “new OS” to seep through every part of your brain and body. To work on all levels - that's what ceremony Is - a full bodied experience of the new OS, spoken in every language of the brain: rational, visual, emotional, and sensory. 

That's why I'm a somatic coach and wilderness guide. I've found that for real change to happen, the body and sensation MUST be understood as part of the equation. The added bonus? Strengthening your interception skills (ability to sense internal sensations) increases your intuition, sexual pleasure, and life satisfaction! Spending more time in nature reduces stress, builds confidence, and regulates your physical health. But that's just according to science. 

Want to see if it works for you experientially? Schedule an initial consult with me today. You've got nothing to lose and your whole life to gain.

Rachel ThorComment