Affirmations or Challenges?

Which is more important for your personal growth affirmations or challenges? This is a trick question for we need both to excel at what we do.


Many successful people use affirmations to aid them in keeping focused on what’s important to their success. The affirmations they use strengthen both their beliefs and awareness of their beliefs so that their beliefs become their default way of thinking.

Affirmations are powerful. Through enhanced awareness, strong beliefs and intense focus, success is inevitable. Indeed, my confidence training programs require participants to spend time each morning affirming what they’ve learned and each evening reviewing how effectively they applied what they learned.


There are times when affirmations aren’t what we need. What we need are challenges to our current way of thinking. Often people will refer me to a book or an author who has presented a message similar  to mine.

I smile and thank the person for they are well-intended. I don’t, however, invest any time in reading what merely affirms what I already believe. What I need, and desire, are ideas that challenge my thinking, that offer new perspectives, that offer insights that will elevate my awareness of what exists.

During my years of providing part-time CFO services, I made it a point to become involved in organizations with which I had no familiarity. I’d spend three years in each. In some I merely attended their monthly meetings and gleaned what I could from others in attendance. In other organizations I got involved in a leadership role.

What I found fascinating is that I got to see the world through the eyes of people with differing perspectives. Members of the Public Relations Society of America helped me look at news reports in a whole new light. A group dedicated to designing user experiences helped me understand how essential it is to gain user insights before creating an offering…as well as techniques for effectively gaining these insights.

In each instance my thinking was challenged by others’ perspectives. To me, this was more powerful than affirmations. I believe that affirmations are essential when we’re training our minds to think differently than we did previously. But my experience has been that when this new way of thinking becomes automatic, challenging ourselves to find new insights that may alter our current way of thinking is essential to personal growth.

For you

If you use daily affirmations, by all means continue the practice. It obviously has value to you or you wouldn’t continue doing it. But don’t fall into the trap of only exploring what affirms what you believe. 

Instead, spend time reviewing information that differs from what you currently believe. Get involved in activities or organizations with which you have no familiarity. Watch programs or YouTube videos on topics with which you have little knowledge. When visiting your library, or acquiring audiobooks, select topics that challenge your current way of thinking. These are simple, inexpensive ways to assure that you grow personally and professionally.

For our kids

As kids see you exploring new perspectives, changing your thinking based on what you learned and thoroughly enjoying the experience, they’ll mimic your behavior. As their interests surface, join with them in the exploration. Listen to what they’ve learned that they’ve found intriguing, then share what you’ve gained as well.

In addition to the newly-acquired knowledge you both gain, you’ll find that your bond with the kids grows stronger as well.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, I was glad to see your wisdom on exercising caution on the use of Affirmations as a one size fits all solution to our state of mind. Always keeping an open mind to other alternative ways of thinking!

    • dfurtwengler

      Bill, it’s amazing what we can learn when we don’t feel that our knowledge is complete. Besides, one of the great joys in life is knowing that there’s always something new to learn…at least for me.

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