Doing affirmations is the process of repeating a phrase to yourself over and over again in order to change the way you think or feel. They’re used by a wide variety of people, from salespeople that need to quickly psyche themselves up to make a series of calls through to elite athletes standing at the starting blocks of the 100m World Championships. You can use affirmations to help improve your memory when studying for the LTO driving test, to help increase your coordination and perception when driving, and to reduce nervousness and increase confidence while taking your test.
The best thing about affirmations is that they are free and you can do them in your own time.
How do affirmations work
Affirmations work by displacing one belief in your subconscious mind and replacing it with another so that your subconscious influences your conscious life.
It’s quite simple: almost everything you do comes from your subconscious. When you read these words you don’t consciously have to move your eyes across the screen – your eyes do it automatically, subconsciously. When your brain forms the words into meaning, it does it subconsciously. Of course, you can choose to do something consciously – for example make a conscious decision about what to eat for dinner, but your subconscious told you that you were hungry and your subconscious mind is the one imagining what you can eat.
How will this work with a practical or theory driving exam?
Many people suffer from nerves when they are under pressure. When you are taking your driving test you have pressure because you will have spent a lot of time and money getting to that point. You don’t want to fail because then there will be social stigma that you failed. This makes some people nervous or anxious, but those are responses that can be tamed by improving confidence and calmness. What influence confidence, calmness, nervousness and anxiety? It’s your subconscious mind.
Fortunately your subconscious mind can be influenced quite easily, and this is how brainwashing works in religious cults. In this case, though, you are going to brainwash yourself into believing you are more confident and calm, and that will make it easier for you to pass your driving test.
A phrase I hear many people say, particularly when they are trying to remember someone’s name is “I’m great with faces, but useless at remembering names.” If you tell yourself this over and over again, then your subconscious believes it and it becomes harder and harder to remember names. If you go so far as to say (generally) that you have a bad memory, then it will affect everything you do.
Again, it’s easy to turn around: simple affirmations can help improve your memory. So let’s find out how it’s done.
What is an affirmation?
An affirmation is a short positive statement about what you want to happen said in the present tense as if it has already happened.
For example, these two are good affirmations:
- I have an excellent memory
- I am great at listening to and acting on instructions.
These two are bad examples:
- I am not forgetful
- I will have a great memory
- I want to be confident and calm under pressure.
The good examples work because they speak as if the result has already happened, and there is no negative statement. The bad examples don’t work because your subconscious mind doesn’t understand negatives or time-frames, and if you affirm that you want to be something then you will forever be in a state of wanting, not achieving.
When you first start doing affirmations you will be aware that technically you are lying to yourself. This is not important, though. Your subconscious mind doesn’t understand the concept of a lie – that’s something your conscious mind does. Therefore you can continue knowing that it will work over time even though you haven’t achieved it yet.
What makes an affirmation fail?
There are a few things that will make an affirmation fail:
If you have a really strongly held belief that is contrary to an affirmation, it won’t work. You will need to work on the other belief, too. For example, let’s say that you want to be rich and you use the affirmation ‘I am rich’ (note: we don’t recommend using this affirmation because it’s too vague, but for the purposes of example, it works well). You want to be rich but you don’t believe you deserve it because your family always told you you’re lazy and riches only come to those who work hard. This will sabotage your affirmation and you would need to work with affirmations such as “I deserve to be rich” and “I work smart to become rich”. They are more specific.
The second way an affirmation will fail is if the people around you don’t support you. Let’s say, for example, you are studying the LTO road and traffic rules and you want to remember it and understand it better. You could affirm “I have an excellent memory and I understand the road rules well.” This is a good specific affirmation. However, if you have people around you that constantly tell you that you are stupid, it’s going to be harder (but not impossible) for the affirmation to work.
The third way is if you don’t believe that it will work. There are perhaps millions of people who do affirmations on a daily, weekly or monthly basis who have found it has made a huge difference to their lives. You can either choose to ignore that, or not. But there’s no point in doing it if you don’t believe it will make any difference to you.
How many affirmations should you do?
While you are learning to drive you will have plenty of time to improve your affirmation skills in both the short term and long term. You can use affirmations to change your body’s state very quickly (but we’ll cover this in another article), and you can also use them to change your skills and feelings over a longer period of time for a more permanent result.
You won’t make a permanent change overnight, especially if you have a very deeply held belief. You should expect change to be gradual and take several weeks or months. In fact, you might not notice the change until you conscious try to look back at how you were several months ago. In the case of affirming for a better memory, you will find yourself remembering more and more things more clearly. In the case of improving your confidence it will be a gradual process; there is no quick fix.
You should create two or three affirmations using the guidelines above and run through them for 5-15 minutes per day. You can do them to music if you want. Many people do them while walking. You could even record yourself saying them and then play it, saying them back to yourself at the same time. The more you practice, the better you will be at affirmations. At first your brain will drift off, which is why it’s often good to do it to a piece of music you know, or while walking. Eventually you will be able to do them while waiting in line at the supermarket.
Good luck with using affirmations for helping with your practical and theory test. And remember, once you have your driver licence there’s no reason not to use affirmations to help improve all kinds of aspects of your life.