Affirmations: Indoctrination and Despair


blue-red-couple with some type of mind light

An acquaintance assured me that “affirmations” would cure my allergies and dared me to try. Frankly, I prefer prescription drugs but in a moment of weakness, as my congestion escalated to the point where I couldn’t breath, I downloaded the Louise Hay App. She’s the undisputed Queen of positive thinking in a civilization buoyed by decay, greed, and hubris. She also, erroneously, advocates that individuals are to blame for whatever sickness and tragedy befalls them. I was vaguely familiar with her new thought philosophy via a series of questionable roommates from my youth. Pre-Facebook and pre-instant-collective-consciousness, Hay was already fostering the “hive mind”. Though I can blame no one but myself for the selection of my first husband, I can unequivocally denounce the idea that “positive thought” alone has the power to cure the world’s ills, or my congestion.

Nonetheless, I thought at the very least I would listen to some “affirmations” and marvel at the ease with which the affluent embrace positivity. Have you ever seen the homeless reciting “affirmations” as they move from subway car to subway car begging for food and money? No, and you never will. The perception that the world is one’s oyster and one need only adapt the right mindset to access cornucopia, is the domain of the prosperous. It is also, unfortunately, the domain of the most vulnerable – those who have just enough to coddle a fragment of hope. The “oyster perception” is the proverbial carrot that dangles just out of reach – seducing the resolute masses to stand in line for hours waiting for the next big iThing, promising them prosperity if they work just a little bit longer and a little bit harder, and convincing them that they live in a “free” society. This is the demographic Hay preys upon and she has built an empire on the backs of the despairing.

The “oyster perception” is the proverbial carrot that dangles just out of reach …

I stupidly assumed some altruistic tenant governed Hay’s materialistic inner child. I believed she would, at the very least, make a few affirmations available at no cost – hook me in, let me get a taste of the mass psychobabble. Since Hay has already made millions off the suffering of others, I assumed the App would be free – but no dice. To access any actual “affirmations” I would have to pay $3.99. And what would I get for that $3.99? Would I get 10 affirmations guaranteed to produce all those material gains I’ve read about? Would all my ailments be cured and my mind sedated to the point of nirvana? And what about my congestion? No answers were available. I deleted the App.

It’s a fact of life that some will be born into affluence with a pedigree that guarantees success. Others will be born in ghettos to crack addicted mothers and have zero access to higher education and no hope of upward mobility. Then there’s all those who dwell in between, grasping, clawing, praying, hoping… No amount of affirmations will change how civilization evolves and segments people into hierarchies. I’ve yet to see the poor murmuring affirmations as they sit on street corners or rummage through garbage. They may be talking to invisible people but affirmations and mantra’s telling themselves they are “beautiful just they way they are at that moment” do not slip trippingly off their tongues.

Affirmations – if they calm you down and get you through the day – are fine. If you hope to attain health, wealth, love, and the ever-popular “material gains” then don’t hold your breath. If it were that easy, then the 48 million people living in poverty across America would vanish. They would miraculously migrate to the middle and upper classes and enjoy Starbucks rewards, midsize luxury sedans, and vacations abroad. They would be wholly indoctrinated into the faux democratic, computer-mediated reality. As for me, pissy is my comfort zone. Failure and negative thoughts keep me going. Affirmations, be damned.

— Deborah Johnstone

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