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Why Affirmations Don’t Work

I shouldn’t be writing this. Affirmations are such big business for my friends and colleagues and the people who hire me. And affirmations are stupid.


When you can’t get (or leave) a job, or pay your mortgage, or find a date… chanting to yourself, “I’m a millionaire,” isn’t going to solve your problems.

Don’t get me wrong. I LIKE affirmations. I think they’re useful. I have a few in my book. I’m the kind of girl who makes things happen by thinking, “I want that.” But I do a lot of inner work to make that possible.

Affirmations are like putting pretty make-up on a canker sore: it doesn’t cover the problem.

I’m a little edgier than my Law of Attraction coach friends. They say, “Change the way you feel. Be grateful. Visualize what you want.”

When I have my first session with a client, I say, “Go for the negative thoughts! Let’s really find out what’s there.” Not just the stuff you know you think about money/love/yourself (cause really, it all ends up affecting how you feel about yourself, doesn’t it?), but the stuff you had NO IDEA you thought or believed. That’s where the magick resides: that “Oh my god I never made that connection before!” stuff that you feel down to your toes and beyond.

This is Alchemy. We create a POLARITY that acts like a slingshot that propels you from one world to the next. THERE’S NO MAGICK IN NEUTRALITY.

When we bring all that to light and exorcise your Money Monster with Financial Alchemy, that’s when we can move into love, gratitude and vision and have them mean something.

If you have some cancerous inner dynamic that is feeding on your personal power, your self esteem, your relationships and your business—this is what a bad relationship with Money will do—the last thing you need is an aspirin. Don’t “feel better” without correcting the underlying cause. You may take a couple steps forward, then find yourself back in the ER. That’s where affirmations fall short: they don’t address the underlying cause.

It’s time to open you up and suck out the poison! When your relationship with Money (which ALWAYS affects your relationships with family, partners, self-worth and empowerment) transmutes to a deep, committed, deliriously happy marriage, then any affirmation dressing you put on top of it will be magical.

I like to use the snake venom metaphor: suck out the venom BEFORE you put on the band aid (the affirmation). Think of what happens when put the band aid on before you remove the poison… the poison can’t release, and it goes deeper and deeper into your blood stream. You can watch a black line of poisoned blood creeping from the site of the wound to your heart itself, where it will kill you.

Affirmations are great. They’re also useless, worthless, pathetic and worse if that’s as far as you go. It’s nice and safe (and lazy) to think that happy thoughts are all the universe wants of you to reach your goals. Frankly I don’t know how high you can “vibrate” if you’re carrying a lead weight of unacknowledged rage, shame, fear and hurt behind hind the velvet curtain of your conscious mind.

There’s a big difference between “I want to believe this” and “I DO believe this!” You have to do the real work. I don’t think a inner change has to take a long time. In fact if you haven’t experienced a PROFOUND shift in your very first session, you have the wrong coach! But you have to do the work and really want a change. That’s how you make an affirmation mean something: you are affirming the change that has already happened.











  1. I love how you explained this! I have always used affirmations, but I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten rid of the junk underneath. Thanks for this clear explanation, I find it very helpful!

  2. Morgana,

    It’s your edge that I personally relate to. Working in the personal development field, I often feel up to my eyeballs in Unicorn People with vacant, blissful expressions on their faces.

    Your perspective isfresh, sister!


  3. Hey I really like this article. I even left a link to it under your comment on my article over at pick the brain ( see ). It has a real Rebel Zen edge to it, and I totally agree with what Slade is on about – irritating Unicorn People – at Rebel Zen we are all about personal development – minus the rainbows and dolphins, and the shoulder pads and bleached teeth too.

    But my question is – how do you get to “the stuff you had NO IDEA you thought or believed”?

  4. Morgana Rae says:

    LOL. Thanks Slade and Seamus.

    You don’t like unicorn people? Slade’s read this article, but you’ll like it too Seamus. Read to find out why I don’t like unicorms!

    ; )


  5. Hi Morgana… I found your site from Slade’s site. I think affirmations are pathetic, too. I’ve actually written something similar. Great minds think alike!

    I’m enjoying your blog and your writing. I’ll have to read some more. Be well….

  6. Mark Lister says:

    Hi Morgana

    Good call. I’ve never been comfortable with the “fake it till you make it” approach, and to me affirmations can all to easily stray into that territory.

    I like the venom and band aid metaphor – affirmations are more for the patching up at the end. You have to be willing to get in there and suck the bitter stuff first.


  7. Right on Morgana!
    The problem with using affirmations for most people is that they are operating out of their left-brain consciousness. It’s just another logical, linear way of approaching reality and it isn’t likely to make any difference because it’s coming from a consciousness of separation and fear of lack.

    The magic happens when we shift to right-brain consciousness. That’s why your “money honey” process works so well. It activates the imagination and the intuition which allows us to tap into the unlimited abundance of the universe.

    By the way, one great way to clear the negative beliefs and thoughts that keep people stuck in limitation is to use EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). It focuses on clearing the negative blocks and beliefs that keep people stuck in pain, poverty, disease, or any other unwanted experience.

    The whole key to using Law of Attraction is to really be able to feel good about whatever you want to attract, which is impossible if someone is plagued by numerous traumas and fears. EFT can relieve the emotional charge around fears and past memories, allowing the client to move forward toward their goals.

    It even works for “unicorn people!”

  8. Phillp says:

    Profound thank you!!!,You gotta get in and clean out the muck,master you dragon,and forgive yourself

  9. Tad says:

    Morgana. I love this so much. yes. yes. and yes. Bill Plotkin writes about how life is like a tree. The branches are the Upper World of the ‘we’re all one. love and light.’ it’s the transcendent spiritual paths of the world. It’s the Course in Miracles. The trunk is the Middle World. It’s the day to day practicalities. Money. Communicating with people. Chop wood and carry water. The roots are the Underworld. The shadow. Deep, dark soul initiatory, scary tear you to shit and who gives a fuck about your job and marriage anyway? Not the Underworld! His point was that all the parts of the tree are real. But so often people in the New Age scene are all branches. I couldn’t agree more about affirmations. I can FEEL the difference between people who WANT to believe and those that just KNOW. And know because they’ve gone through their shit. People who have explored the whole tree carry such a humility, sweetness and . . . yeah. you can just feel it. they’re real. they’re whole. they’re solid. they’re open. and they’re so attractive to everyone they meet. they’re safe to be around. people who are stuck on affirmations scare the shit out of me. they’re dangerous. they’re like time bombs. I don’t trust them. they’re permagrinners. but underneath it there’s fear and desperation. it all feels so fucking fake. sometimes we just need to grieve. to collapse. to fall apart and write heartbreaking poetry about it. The avoidance of the darkness doesn’t give us more light. Or . . . our light becomes neon vs. sunlight. It becomes glaring and draining vs. life affirming. Affirmations only point out that we DON’T actually believe it. It seems violent. Why not delve into it. Get to the core of it. And maybe some wonderful new belief and understanding will emerge from what’s really true for us. I think the gift of affirmations can be the shift of focus from what we fear to what we want. That’s wonderful. But . . . sometimes we need to really sit with our fear and go five levels deep with it – to get at the core. and as that’s released . . . we’re free. And then we don’t even need the affirmations. Because we become one. A Hawaiian Kahuna once told me that Faith was the shadow side of Validation. And i think he meant that faith was often this . . . trying to make ourselves believe something. Whereas validation was the process of sitting with our experience really deeply – and validating the part of us that’s always known what’s really true. One take effort to hold – like a mask. The other is an immense relief – as we put the mask down. These are my thoughts.

  10. Molly says:

    Agreed! My affirmations started to work for me only after I did the back work of uncovering my limiting beliefs, finding their source and releasing them! I Love your analogy of sucking out the venum! Thanks!

  11. As well as clearing out your baggage which stands in the way, I also heard it say that affirmations do not always work because of the tonality one uses when continuously repeating a sentence. It ends up being pronounced as questioning with the intonation of the voice going up. So the message given to the unconscious is not clear but actually queries what is being said…?

    1. Morgana Rae says:

      Good point, Daniela. I wonder if that happens when you are affirming something you truly believe.

  12. Karen says:

    I don’t think affirmation in and of themselves are pathetic but maybe more the people doing them. It depends where you come from when you say affirmations.

    I think ultimatly what matters is wether you are honest when you say an affirmation.

    Do you know it to be true within yourself, can you connect with what you are saying even if it is the tinest connection.

    When I say them, they make me cry because I know my limited believes and where those believes come from. It is like connecting to something I know that is good within me that I have never allowed to blossom within me. It is like giving myself permission to blossom into the goodness and the potential that I know lies within me. And that can be healing.

    But yes I agree, if you just say it without being in what you are saying than that is pathetic. That is not empowering.

    You have to resonate with your affirmation even if the connection is tiny as long as it is there , then it is like a golden thread that can bring the best out of you.

  13. Annie says:

    Hi Morgana

    I’m not the biggest fan of Affirmations either when they’re just being said by rote with no evidence to back them up.

    I agree that Affirmations without Action are mostly likely gonna fall flat …

    Where I can see great value in Affirming something is when the your affirming something positive about yourself that you’ve discovered (or newly reconnected with) – something that helps to enhance your belief in yourself and your value (and your ability / capacity to create value for others).

    I see this role of Affirmations as a prelude to the act of taking action. It’s a supporting act that helps you reach a point where you’re more “ready” and willing to take action … because you’ve finally come to like and to value yourself.

    So, yes, Affirmations just for the sake of it really sucks. Is toe-curlingly cheesey, is hollow and self-defeating. But if you’ve been feeling down in the dumps, really down on yourself and blind to your worth and your value, reminding yourself of a positive truth about you that’s been uncovered; championing yourself and your true abilities, value and worth can be a wonderful empowerment tool. A primer. A prelude. Affirmation as a Primer for Action.

    If you still don’t take any action you’re still gonna get very far. But I reckon that with the support of the affirmation foundation, you’re a whole heap closer to taking the action than you were beforehand.

    I hope!

  14. Aileen says:

    It simply means affirmations without Action is USELESS.. 🙂

    1. Morgana Rae says:

      Amen, Sister Aileen!

  15. Kathleen says:

    I’m shocked to think that people believe you can say affirmations and things will simply manifest in their lives. My latest goal that manifested with affirmations included lots of studying and practice. I never passed a math course in college after trying four times; and after four years and always putting off repeating the course, i am getting closer to gaduation i had to take the course. I kept saying, “I have to do this, im going to do this, i have to pass math”. All of a sudden i was practicing during lunch hour at work, i was getting home and hitting the books, i was going to bed at 11 and 12 because i was studying hard. At the end of the semester my average was 87%. I had passed and got closer to graduating. Affirmations helped my mind open up and accept that i CAN pass math but i had to work hard at it.

    1. Morgana Rae says:

      It’s even worse, Kathleen. There was a study last year that showed that people who said affirmations actually felt WORSE! I think the difference is how you use them. You found a way to make them work for you. Congratulations!

      Thanks for posting.


      1. Lauren Fuller says:

        I feel 100% better after starting affirmations. To each their own. It has really turned my life around. Just changing the way I think. I believe they work for me. Therefore they are.

        1. Morgana says:

          Always do what works for you!

  16. Bhupen says:

    Very interesting article. I have nothing but good things to say about affirmations but I guess it was coupled with travelling, writing, reading and meditating which probably made them more effective. My question to you is do you think the affirmation “my subconscious mind is clear of all negative and limiting thoughts” could solve the faulty affirmations.

    The following article refutes your “i am a millionaire” affirmation.

    It suggests that if you put a date on a goal and use the correct tense your affirmation is more likely to come into fruition.

    I am fairly new to personal development so may have misunderstood the nature of affirmations, negative and limiting thoughts so would appreciate your insight into the issues that I have raised.

    1. Morgana Rae says:

      That’s an interesting suggestion, Bhupen.

      I have a couple of thoughts on this.

      1) If your affirmations work, keep doing whatever works! My #1 rule is always, “Do what works for you!”

      The problem I see with affirmations is they are superficial. They’re dancing around the frontal, conscious part of the brain, while our results and reality live BEHIND the frontal cortex in the much larger subconscious, survival-oriented part of the brain. That means we don’t really BELIEVE what we’re saying, even if we think we do.

      We need to go deeper.

      2) Another way to look at those unconscious limiting patterns and beliefs and spontaneous thoughts is to really bring them out into the open, into our awareness, to examine them and rewire our brains.

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