You cannot affirm (make firm) that which does not have truth or true possibility. To make it firm, you must deeply understand why it is, or could be, true, and then repeat it enough to wire it in, at least as strong as the already created wiring of the opposite idea.
You're always affirming something
Work them the right way, or they don't work
Proven re-wiring of the brain
Beliefs form the basis
One affirms what is true or possibly true
Affirms, intentions, the secret, and magical thinking
Becoming or aiming, realistically, works, too
Examples of what works and what doesn't work
Then do the rest of "the process"
YOU'RE ALWAYS AFFIRMING SOMETHING
Note that you are constantly affirming (firming up) something, but science has proven that what we are affirming is the negative, as over 90% of our thoughts are negative.
From my research, it is better to make any positive or neutral affirmation than to just leave things at the status quo. At the very least, they are occupying the space in the brain that would have been filled with a negative thought.
WORK THEM THE RIGHT WAY, OR THEY DON'T WORK
Many people misuse affirmations, so they end up being ineffective, with people wondering why they don't work. It' s not that they don't work, you've just got to work them the right way. There is no magic to affirmations, but there is power in using them right and marrying them to other actions.
PROVEN RE-WIRING OF THE BRAIN
There is no doubt that the brain can be rewired (actually changed to operate differently and better) through the use of affirmations and related empowering self talk. As these are repeated, they will go into memory and will start to be more and more automatic, replacing those that you've determined should no longer be in your brain. As the latter fall into disuse, the brain will actually use the material for other neuronal pathways.
BELIEFS FORM THE BASIS
Without modifying your beliefs that underlie a particular self-conversation, it is very difficult to install a new affirmation of a new statement you want to believe.
ONE AFFIRMS WHAT IS TRUE OR POSSIBLY TRUE
Affirm means to "make firm". Period.
One key tenet here is that you must be affirming something that is true or possibly true.
The classic is my friend who didn't want to take the time to do the unglamorous building of income via a series of affirmations but wanted to use "The Secret" to "attract" to her (when she was making hardly any money) "$250,000 in the next three months." (Read the comments about magical thinking instead of using the "steps to success" laid out in the Success section.)
AFFIRMS, INTENTION, THE SECRET, AND MAGICAL THINKING
Notice that the Power Of Intention is powerful, but it would be aire faire to believe that it is enough. You've got to use the principle of "getting thou rear in gear" and following the right success steps, etc. Easy and magical just aren't realistic. This is one of the dangers of misusing some religious principles or writings, as certain individuals may become passive or dependent. (See Spirituality And Religions.)
BECOMING OR AIMING, REALISTICALLY, WORKS, TOO
A function of affirmations that is one of "becoming" or "aiming toward" is that of affirming a way of being or feeling.
It is legitimate (i.e. possibly true) to say "I am peaceful", as a way of calming oneself down by "visualizing" (wordizing) where you want to be, even if you are not there right now. You are essentially saying, which is more true, "I am seeking to be peaceful and I will work at creating that."
EXAMPLES OF WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T WORK
Another example of what might not work is "I am strong," especially if you don't believe it. It would be more true to say "I am becoming stronger and stronger every day" or "I am creating myself being stronger."
You certainly can't reasonably affirm red is blue or that you have an IQ over 180.
It is useful to learn how to discriminate among the levels of affirmations as far as their effectiveness. Definitely see The Levels Of Affirmations, so that you are focused on doing the highest level of affirmations for the greatest effect.
WHAT A CORE AFFIRMATION "SECTION" CONSISTS OF
See and follow: The Affirmations Completion Process, to be sure you are completing. "What you do not complete, you are doomed to repeat." Use your judgment as to how far to go with all of this, but err on the high side if possible, as it adds up, even if you only read it and don't memorize it all.
Eventually, a selection of one or several major affirmations that will remind one of the series of supporting materials that have been read daily until integrated (for at least a month). (Amazingly enough most people stop here - and they actually expect great results, though the amount of depth and completeness certainly would not justify expecting good results!)
A complete gathering of related affirmations, rated as to whether you actually now believe them (in your rational mind): Believe, maybe, don't believe...
Any "supporting pillars" affirmations/statements (which are foundational, such as believing in good/bad or right/wrong or blame; stick those in search engine to find related materials).
Supporting items to make these more clear and more defined are recommended:
The reasoning you've decided or adopted around this and the benefits of the new
belief, including how it will contribute to achieving specific major goals in your
life and/or be in alignment with your values.
The reasons why these are true (and the reasons why the opposite is untrue)
Not True (Those should be thoroughly ground into your consciousness
through repeating readings, added to your others.)
Your commitment(s) and/or promises to yourself or others around this area
Rules you set around this
Standards (not unreasonable expectations, but minimum reasonable standards that are desirable, but which will occasionally be violated, and then renewed)
Collages or "treasure maps" (aka vision boards),
Writing out how the future results will feel plus experiencing it as if you were in
it right now,
Laying out in writing all your dreams and desires
Add to the definiteness:
Declarations of what is untrue,
Why you don't want the opposite results and
Why you want these results.
Even using stronger language like "I absolutely am..." can make a difference. Or adding an exclamation mark can be helpful. Supporting items to make these more clear and more defined are recommended: from collages or "treasure maps" (aka vision boards), writing out how the future results will feel plus experiencing it as if you were in it right now, laying out all your dreams and desires - all of these are in From Visualization To Vision Boards
Back up data:
The original statements of the major negative beliefs, on a referenceable sheet, normally behind the affirmations and supporting statements that will be used.
THEN DO THE REST OF "THE PROCESS"
And then, as discussed in the overview in the prior section, you need to repeat and repeat and repeat until you've got it down so well that it is usable and retrievable when needed, plus you've got to keep it available so that you can review it periodically, which most people would do by keeping it in their Reminders Notebook. Because an affirmation needs a good sound basis and some belief behind it, it would be good to use one of the belief re-creation worksheets, in the Changing Beliefs section. In those you would list why the affirmation is true, citing evidence if possible. Being convinced is, in my opinion, the crucial difference that makes it work.