The Pagan Blog Project is a lose knit group of over 100 bloggers that has agreed to post every Friday on a Pagan topic. Each week the posts all begin with a topic with a given letter of the alphabet. This week is B.
Affirmations are something we are exposed to pretty early on as occultists. At least, I was. Affirmations come from the New Thought movement. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby apparently started the movement. Many people think New Thought was only about affirmations but very little research reveals it went into a much deeper philosophy. As I am not a New Thought aficionado, so I will leave comments on that to others.
The most famous New Thought affirmation was Emile Coues, "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better". This sort of thing was never very beneficial to me. By personality, I simply get distracted by every day life too quickly to repeat something like that. While I am sure these affirmations work for some people as is, I advise something a bit more.
Magick done with an eye towards self-improvement must be done in conjunction with the improving affirmation. So, if you're affirmation is happiness, do magick designed to further that goal. Are you unhappy because you are lonely? You do magick with the aim of meeting new friends. Then you do your daily affirmation and let your thoughts build on your magick. You can take it another step and figure out why you have no friends, rude? Obnoxious? Shy? Do magick to banish or improve that too.
The danger of affirmations is that you can believe what isn't real. Are you really getting better every day? What proof of that do you have? What is going on in your life that demonstrates this? Anyone wanting to do real spirtual work better be able to look around and determine what is being reflected in his or her life. Magick and spiritual forms of religion are not about believing you are growing. It is using the tools those pursuits offer to facilitate your growth or awareness of the divine.
There are other repeatable mantras that I feel are related to New Thought. This is the mantra of a deity or natural force you are trying to connect with. Crowley's did this with adorations to the sun done four times a day. If you want to meet a given deity, there is nothing wrong with a little mantra prayer. Of course, sooner or later, the eminent form of that deity may just arrive. You better be ready and no affirmation will help you with that.
EDIT: This post was edited only to remove bad HTML code that highlighted certain text unintentionally.