Question: Dear Father Andrew, I’d like to know if affirmations (i.e., short statements containing a verbal formula, which is repeated multiple times to plant the required image or attitude into one’s subconscious, thus improving one’s mental and emotional condition) and positive thinking are sinful or not?
Answer: I believe that an Orthodox person should use the practices established by the Holy Fathers. We don’t find anything like the methods you’ve described in the writings of the Holy Fathers.
We can inculcate anything we want in ourselves. For instance, we can repeat to ourselves that we are holy and that we love everyone. Isn’t it better if we simply admit the truth that we aren’t holy and that we don’t love anyone? And then ask the Lord to heal our sick souls.
Perhaps, that psychological method might help a person who lives as he or she pleases. A believer can make use of the enormous wealth of spiritual living collected by thousands of ascetics spanning dozens of generations. All that immense wealth is accumulated in the Church. We can experience live interaction with God. That’s why affirmations are inappropriate.
When people grow old, they often become unbearable and intolerable. You are a Christian, so you have to forgive and ask for forgiveness to keep the peace in your heart.