In this first article in a series we’re going to look at different methods of helping you pass your driving test, the first of which is affirmations.
Affirmations are commonly used by elite sportspeople and business leaders, but also by those of all ages, genders and backgrounds that want to make a change in our lives. The concept is simple, and the results that you could achieve that make it easier for you to remember the Highway Code and deal with the stress of taking a practical driving test could be quite significant.
What is an affirmation?
Put simply, an affirmation is a phrase you repeat to yourself over and over again which influences your subconscious mind enough to have an affect on your conscious being. There’s nothing airy-fairy or esoteric about this: it’s essentially a form of brainwashing yourself in a positive way. Brainwashing has been used by all kinds of organisations for years, but mostly in a negative way. This positive brainwashing influences your mind so that you start to believe a particular thing about yourself – such as a character trait – and this belief in yourself usually starts to make it a reality.
For example, a large study was done on why certain people are creative and others aren’t creative and the main conclusion of the study was that those that are creative believe themselves to be creative and those that are not creative believe themselves to be not creative.
Affirmations have been used for centuries. Affirmations have a structure which makes them very easy to make up yourself.
The structure of an affirmation
An affirmation is a positive statement said as if what you want already exists. By positive, it can’t have a negative in it. For example, you can’t have an affirmation that says ‘I’m not forgetful’, because your subconscious doesn’t understand the negative and just focuses on ‘forgetful’. If you want to affirm that you are not forgetful then you can use an affirmation such as ‘I have perfect memory and perfect recall’. That is an affirmation that is perfect for when you are studying the Highway Code.
You can’t have an affirmation that says ‘I will be a good driver’ because that is simply affirming that at some undisclosed time in the future you will be a good driver. The trick is to say it as if it is right now – yes, technically it’s not true at that moment but your subconscious mind doesn’t take that into consideration.
An affirmation should be short, catchy and easy for you to remember and say.
What can you use affirmations for?
The main issues that might be affecting you when you take a driving test will be memory of the Highway Code, nervousness when driving, lack of concentration when driving, lack of spatial awareness, and general confidence. All of these can be helped with affirmations.
You probably know someone who constantly says (i.e. affirms to themselves) that they have a terrible memory. How good would it be if you could turn this around with affirmations?
You might know someone that is always nervous when meeting new people; this can be changed quite easily, too.
How long do you have to use affirmations?
This varies depending on what you want to achieve. You can use affirmations for as little as a minute and achieve a temporary boost that will get you through a particular event. The main deciding factor for whether you make a permanent change is how deeply rooted your existing beliefs are. The affirmation will gradually sink into your brain to make a change permanent, but this doesn’t happen overnight.
Is doing affirmations like having a coach?
A life coach or a mentor can be a person who feeds you positivity and this is exactly the same as affirmations. The only difference is that with an affirmation you are doing it yourself rather than paying someone else. It means that, as long as you are motivated, you can do affirmations whenever you want, for free.
What are the reasons why an affirmation might not work?
There are a few reasons an affirmation might not work:
- You have a stronger belief that negates this belief. For example, let’s say you want to be more popular: you might affirm that you are pleasant and friendly around people, but if your underlying belief is that people are stupid and worthless, the affirmation is much less likely to work
- Those around you don’t support your new beliefs and battle against your change. For example, if you affirm that you are clever but those around you tell you that you are stupid, you will have to be much stronger to break out of their negativity.
- The belief is physically impossible. For example, you can’t affirm that you are a 23 year-old female if you are ea 26 year-old male – that is just delusional.
- You haven’t done it enough. An affirmation won’t work permanently overnight. They can work as a temporary boost in as little as a few minutes, but to make it more permanent you are likely to need at least a week and probably a few months. It depends on how strongly rooted your existing belief system is.
- You don’t believe it will work – this is just self-sabotage.
Recapping the rules of affirmations
If you want to pass your driving test and you need affirmations to help you, here are the essential rules
- Make up a maximum of three affirmations that positively state how you want to be, for example, I am calm and confident when driving, or I have a perfect memory for the Highway Code, or my driving is smooth and professional. There must be no negative words in your affirmation.
- Do these affirmations for at least 10 minutes every day for at least a couple of weeks before your test – preferably more. If you do it with music it’s good to always use the same piece of music.
- Do them just before your test – this will give you a boost.
- Give it a chance to work.
Making affirmations more effective
Try to give your body the best chance of changing by giving it proper nutrition and doing exercise to get the blood flowing.
Remember, you can use affirmations for anything in your life, but in the meantime, good luck with your driving test.
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.