Many people take the concept of affirmations to the extreme. They look in the mirror and are led to believe that they should say to themselves, “I’m a model, I’m a model, I’m a model.”
Meanwhile, in the back of their mind, they’re saying to themselves, “Who am I kidding? Who am I kidding? Who am I kidding?”
When you say something that feels completely unrealistic, unattainable and far from what you view as the truth, you will never believe the words that come out of your mouth. You won’t adopt a new way to view yourself, and you will stick with the old negative belief about how you see yourself.
Instead of saying “I’m a model,” it would be more beneficial (and far more believable) if you tell yourself, “You know, I’m not a model, but I don’t look bad for my age.” Or saying, “I’m not where I’d like to be just yet, but I’m on my way to losing weight.”
By doing so, you allow yourself to grab hold of a belief that feels slightly better than what you have previously believed about yourself. You can make a statement that feels honest, and you can grab onto it and take as your own.
Let’s apply this concept elsewhere.
If I’m applying for a job and I tell myself, “I’m not good enough for this position, why bother applying?” then jumping directly to “I’m perfect for this position, I may as well apply” is too big of a leap. In one moment, you can’t possibly jump from feeling crummy to feeling terrific.
A slightly better thought, one that is a smaller and more manageable step, would be to tell yourself, “I may not feel amazing about landing this job, but I have just as good a chance as anyone else.”
The expression “progress, not perfection” perfectly sums up the process of “trading up.” By taking small steps and telling yourself slightly more positive statements, you start to move to a better place. Then you move to an even better place. And then to an even better place. Eventually, the negative voice in your head begins to subside and you begin to see yourself in a much more positive light.
Trading up allows you to release some of your self-criticism and reach a clearer, calmer place in your thinking. This concept of trading up your thoughts for slightly better ones is one of the leading principles behind Frame of Mind Coaching.