I recently found out about ‘afformations’ after reading a blog post by my friend Khuram Malik. I was very familiar with the more well known affirmations, having used them on and off with varying degrees of success over the years. ‘Afformations’, however, immediately made more sense and gave a stronger punch of positivity more easily. And they’ve also led me to think how small changes in language can greatly influence the effect that language has on us.

But what is the difference between ‘afformations’ and affirmations, I hear you say. An affirmation is a statement regarding something you would like to be true in your life, for example, ‘I am happy’. You repeat the phrase over and over in order to change your subconscious mind, and therefore hopefully change your thinking and attitudes. ‘Afformations’, on the other hand, are questions which you ask yourself, questions which assume what you want to be true in your life already is true. So instead of chanting ‘I am happy, I am happy, I am happy’, you could ask ‘Why do I feel so happy?’ Go on, say both of them now. Do you notice any differences?

The idea behind ’afformations’ is that instead of making your mind focus on, in this case, the happiness you lack, your brain is now focusing on the happiness you DO have, and the things and people already in your life that bring you happiness. It produces a much more positive result immediately and have you worked out why?

Any good presenter or writer knows that an effective way of getting or keeping their audience’s attention is to ask them questions. We can’t help ourselves; even if we know a question is rhetorical or know the person who posed the question won’t hear us, our brain immediately wants to supply an answer, working away like a search engine to come up with a response. It’s a well-used sales technique to engage the target audience: Have you driven a Ford lately? Where would you like to go today? Statements don’t involve us to the same extent; questions immediately grab us, naturally motivating action and encouraging reflection.

Language is a powerful tool and even a subtle difference, such as changing a statement into a question, can produce an entirely different result. Being aware of this means you have another instrument in your belt for communicating more effectively, whether you’re a manager encouraging your team to come up with solutions to a problem, a teacher leading students to discover an answer for themselves, a copywriter persuading future clients they need a service, or you making another step along your personal development road. Perhaps you should spend less time worrying about finding the right answers and more time formulating the right question.

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.
You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
Naguib Mahfouz (Egyptian writer and Nobel Prize winner)