Affirmations versus Aspirations

Gentle Spirit Yoga blog Affirmation versus Aspiration

We all love an affirmation. There is something about affirming to the Universe the wish to make positive changes within ones life. Whether it be that strategically placed stick it note on the bathroom mirror attesting to your self worth and confidence or maybe on the edge of your computer screen encouraging you to reach your potential and to never give up. 

Personally, I use affirmations on my daily walks to create positive change within my own life. Affirmations affirm your desire through positive statements. They tell the Universe hey this is my goal. These positive messages and can be life changing through declaring within your mind the way you would like life to pan out and for personal growth.

But I had my view of affirmations challenged recently when I read ‘The Call’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer‘. The book is about discovering why you are here and is portrayed through Oriah sharing her poem and stories of her journey. In one of the paragraphs Oriah introduced to me the concept of aspirations. She mentioned that through affirmation we are trying to will something into being. However, with aspirations we are expressing a willingness to be open to a new way of being. The distinction seems small but I feel has the ability to transform your thinking and your life.

Affirmations versus Aspirations ~

Affirmations are willing something into being:

As part of my regular practice of affirmation I also use the Buddhist meditation Metta or Loving Kindness on my walks. Metta meditation is aspiration in action. This was a real eye opener because now I understood the difference between the two. So let me explain. An affirmation sounds like ‘I am loving and kind,’ ‘I accept myself,’ ‘ I am calm and relaxed.’ They are affirming statements. Something declared to be true, a positive statement (Merriam Webster dictionary).

But there is an alternative…

Aspiration is a willingness to be open to a new way of being!

An aspiration sounds like ‘May I be loving and kind,’ ‘May I accept myself,’ ‘May I be calm and relaxed.’ These are statements to aspire to. Desire for personal advancement (Merriam Webster dictionary).

So rather than forcing the issue through ‘I am,’ you are ‘aspiring’ to the outcome.

Why does knowing the difference matter?

Knowing the difference empowers you to know when and where to use each of them. For example if you are dealing with an issue that really challenges you, when you repeat the affirmation and the aspiration you may feel a subtle difference between the two. I will use the example of feeling brave. Think of a situation where you are required to be brave. Something that really challenges you to your very core. It maybe something like starting your own business, speaking in public, skydiving or meeting new people. Now repeat out loud or mentally the affirmation ‘I am brave.’ Repeat it several times. Own it, notice where it resonates. How does it feel? How did your body react? Where did you feel it? How did your mind react?

Personally, affirmations feel demanding, like I am trying to convince myself that ‘I am brave’ when my body is telling me otherwise through tightness or contraction known as resistance. Resistance is that internal wall or block that you put up supposedly to protect yourself. But sadly that wall put up by your conscious mind will do anything to stop you from putting yourself in situations that previously have made you feel uncomfortable. So you resist the very thing you are desperately trying to improve or change. You resist it with all of your being.

Now lets try the same practice with an aspiration, this time repeating ‘May I be brave’ several times. Again, own it and notice where it resonates. How does it feel? How did your body react? Where did you feel it? How did your mind react? Did you feel any resistance this time?

I am so inspired by the concept of aspiration. Aspirations invite change. ‘May I be brave’ is much more inviting to the psyche than ‘I am brave’. Little or no resistance is felt, simply softness and desire to be brave and an acceptance of what is. This openness and softness allows the initiation of change to take place.

You will naturally resist what you genuinely don’t believe. But by inviting change you employ a much gentler method for your conscious mind to accept. Aspirations encourage you to be gentler, softer and more patient, loving and nurturing toward yourself to allow natural changes and growth to take place.

Affirmations will always have their place to enhance your wellbeing. But now through a greater understanding of aspirations I encourage you to explore and incorporate more aspirational quotes into your daily life.

May you be inspired.

Namaste, Gwynn

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