If you recently learned about affirmations, you may wonder what they are exactly and whether they work. You are most likely curious to find ways to incorporate them into your life effectively.
This article will discuss affirmations, how they work, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into your life.
What Are Affirmations?
A daily affirmation is a statement you repeat to yourself that form your belief system, attitude, outlook on life and ultimately manifest in your life. They can be positive or negative.
For instance, let’s say you are faced with a challenge, and your repetitive thoughts are:
“Life is so hard. Nothing is working out. I am not destined for any good.”
Indeed, that might be your situation at that time, but staying in a pessimistic mindset will not help you get through or out of the challenging situation. You will continue to feel stuck and helpless, and evidence of things spiraling out of control will continue to manifest.
However, you can take charge of your thinking and replace a negative thought with a positive statement. For instance, you could say to yourself:
“Times may be challenging, but I will get through this. Every day I am finding solutions to the problems and ways to get over the obstacles.”
Initially, it may take a bit of effort to rephrase your thoughts. It may even feel like wishful thinking, or like you are lying to yourself. However, if you stick with it, you will notice that you will begin to ease up to the statements, see possibilities, and gain a more positive outlook enabling you to find solutions.
Research shows that the average person thinks over 50,000 thoughts in a day. Unfortunately, most of us are in the habit of thinking negative thoughts. Therefore, a majority of the 50,000 thoughts are negative. Yet, you expect to have a positive outcome in life.
The saying, “garbage in, garbage out,” is accurate for computers as it is for the human mind. If you constantly think negative thoughts, you will continue to manifest negative situations. On the other hand, a simple change of thoughts can significantly shift the quality of your life.
How Do Affirmations Work?
Positive affirmations reshape your subconscious mind positively.
Think of your subconscious mind as a file cabinet where you store information. Your life experiences and thoughts are pockets of information filed in the cabinet and form the blueprint of your life.
If your mind is filled with negative thoughts, your blueprint is mainly disempowering. While you cannot control all your experiences, you can form an empowering blueprint through positive affirmations.
Therefore, when you are faced with challenges, your mind has enough positive files stored that it retrieves to help you get through each day with optimism and joy.
Let’s get down to the science of how affirmations work.
Affirmations work on the principle of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to adapt depending on the input, be it experiences, thoughts, or visualizations. It is the ability to rewire your brain. Therefore, positive affirmations create positive brain pathways for an optimistic view of life.
How Can Affirmations Help You?
Positive affirmations can come in handy in various aspects of your life. Below is a look at the top areas where affirmations can be helpful to you.
Boost Your Mood and Create a Positive Perspective About Life
Studies show that repeating positive affirmations activate the brain’s prefrontal cortex’s reward center. This part of the brain is also activated when you engage in pleasurable activities, e.g., eating your favorite meal, achieving a goal, or cuddling with a loved one. Therefore, reciting affirmations generates a sense of contentment and happiness, ultimately creating a positive outlook on life.
Research also shows that positive affirmations can help to build or restore competence. The brain does not know the difference between reality and imagination. That is why an image of something exciting excites your body as if it is happening and vice versa.
Affirmations leverage the brain’s neuroplasticity to shape your reality. Therefore, by repeating these positive statements, your brain receives them as facts and starts to manifest them as reality.
Say, for instance, you have an interview coming up, and you repeatedly tell yourself, “I am a great fit for this job. I will undertake the interview articulately and calmly”. You will show up confident for the interview, increasing your chances of landing the job.
On the other hand, if you are constantly telling yourself, “there is no way they will hire me. I am so bad at interviews.” you are likely to not ace it.
Other examples of affirmations that can help you to build competence include:
- “I am confident.”
- “I acquire and master new skills with ease.”
- “I am an excellent photographer.”
- “I am a great leader.”
- “I am a great parent.“
You can use affirmations to help your brain build a framework for your goals and condition the subconscious mind to achieve them. Affirmations create synchrony between your vision, thoughts, and action. By repeating them consistently, you prepare your mind to take the necessary action
Examples of goal setting and success affirmations include:
- I am successful
- I am energized to take action toward my goals
- I take action consistently toward my goals
- I feel the fear and take action anyway
- I attain my goals with ease
- All the resources and information I need to achieve my goals come to me with ease
- I deserve success
- I am focused
- I am limitless
Build an Empowering Self Concept
This is based on Claude Steele’s 1980s self-affirmation theory. According to the theory, we innately have a fundamental motivation to self-affirm to maintain our integrity. If someone says you are lazy, you are more likely to self-affirm by pointing out that you are hardworking and take action.
Positive affirmations leverage our nature to self-assure and build an empowering self-identity and self-efficacy. Examples of self-assuring affirmations include:
- I am strong
- I am confident
- I am intelligent
- I am resilient
- I am beautiful
- I am enough
- I matter
Overcome Life’s Challenges
Positive affirmations help to reinforce positive thinking and resilience. They help you reduce resistance regarding a challenging issue and take responsibility and the necessary action. In instances where the challenge is beyond your control, affirmations can help you develop surrender and acceptance, allowing you to move forward with life.
Improve Overall Health
Positive affirmations are beneficial for all aspects of your health. Studies show that negative thoughts and pessimism increase stress levels in the body, predisposing you to major health issues such as heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and gastrointestinal issues.
Positive affirmations also promote emotional and mental health. Furthermore, they boost your social wellbeing. If you are positive about life and feel happy, you interact better with other people.
How to Write Effective Affirmations
Below are the steps to follow to write effective affirmations:
Identify Areas or Behaviors In Your Life You Want to Change
It could be you want to become a better parent, be more productive, have a deeper connection with your spouse, etc. Write them down.
Identify Your Core Limiting Beliefs and Thoughts
For each area you have identified, write down the dominant-negative beliefs and thoughts you have that have been holding you back.
Turn Those Negatives Beliefs Into Positive Affirmations
Rephrase the negative thoughts into positive, empowering statements. They should be in the present tense as if they have happened already. Also, ensure that you resonate with them.
Do a Google search for “affirmations for (the specific issue)” for examples. You can include some that come up on the search on your list as long as they resonate with you. Or, you could also rephrase them.
Read Them Out Loud
Read each affirmation out and infuse enthusiasm. It is recommended to repeat the affirmations at least 3 times. You can repeat each at a time or all of them together. If you need to, allow some time between the affirmations for them to sink in.
Create a Routine for Affirmation Practice
Subconscious mind experts recommend reciting your affirmations first thing in the morning or just before sleep. At these times, the mind is in the alpha state, and the subconscious mind is more receptive.
If you can, say the affirmations both in the morning and the evening. With that said, whatever time works for you is best.
Tips for Using Positive Affirmations Effectively
Use Them Consistently
Some people expect to see radical transformation in their life by reciting affirmations once. Unfortunately, it does work that way. As with anything else in life, you have to be committed and consistent with your affirmations to see any change.
Keep in mind that you are attempting to rewire your brain. It takes repetition to instill positive thoughts in your subconscious mind.
In her book “You Can Heal Your Life,” Louise L Hay advises readers seeking to develop self-love to repeat the affirmation “I love you” at least 500 times a day. These may seem like too many times to repeat a single affirmation.
However, it is only 0.01% of your thoughts when you think about it critically. Chances are, many of those other thoughts are negative, so you might as well infuse a dose of 500 positive thoughts each day.
While you may not recite 500 affirmations each day, even 10 affirmations daily will significantly impact your outlook. You may not notice any change when you first start reciting them. However, if you maintain a daily practice, the change will be evident.
Be Realistic With Your Affirmations
Ease yourself into the affirmations. For instance, if you are extremely resentful of someone who hurt you, it may be difficult to affirm “I forgive you.” But, you may be able to affirm, “I am willing to forgive.”
Or, if you are struggling financially, you may find it difficult to affirm, “I am wealthy” or “I am a millionaire.” But you may be able to affirm, “I have enough to pay my bills.”
The goal is to minimize resistance to your affirmation. You don’t want to say an affirmation, and then your mind drifts off to argue it out. Start with the ones that are most accessible to you.
Anchor the Affirmation in Your Body
There are several techniques to do this, including breath work, mirror work, and the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Take deep breaths or look at yourself in the mirror as you recite your affirmations.
With EFT, tap various energy centers in sequence as you say your affirmations aloud. Another method of anchoring is writing down the affirmations as you say them. Anchoring with your body facilitates the installation of the affirmation in your subconscious mind.
Back Up the Affirmations With Action
While affirmations alone can work in some cases, in most scenarios, you need to take the corresponding action. For example, if you are affirming “I am wealthy,” take courses to learn about how to invest your money, start that business you have been thinking about, learn to manage your money better, etc.
If you are affirming “I am confident,” do that thing you are afraid of, assume a body posture that makes you feel confident, keep off people who belittle you, and speak up for yourself.
Revise Your Affirmations Over Time
Keep revising your affirmations as need be. Replace those that have manifested with new ones depending on what you are working on in your life. If you notice that certain affirmations bring up lots of resistance, replace them with ‘softer’ ones.
Positive affirmations are powerful and effective. They are not a woo-woo new-age practice that is far-fetched. There is scientific evidence that they work. Therefore, incorporate them into your daily life to boost happiness, peace, and confidence. Come up with a list of those that resonate with you and recite them daily.