Affirmations, sometimes called positive affirmations, are the statements or phrases we repeat to ourselves to enforce positive thinking. In the process, they can be used to boost self-esteem, overcome anxiety, and defeat negative thought patterns.
Affirmations are short statements whose primary role is to enforce positive thinking.
Some believe positive affirmations are a magic bullet while others dismiss them as baseless pseudoscience.
The real truth, however, lies somewhere in between.
Researchers have not conclusively proven that affirmations enable us to manifest what we desire, but they are based on many psychological processes backed by scientific studies.
Affirmations and neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity research looks at how the brain alters its structure, functions, or connections in response to internal and external stimuli.
Studies show that affirmations can strengthen positive neural pathways in the brain and decrease our reliance on negative pathways that no longer serve us.
Neuroplasticity can also be used to explain how when we believe a desired future state will occur, it is more likely to eventuate.
This is caused by the brain’s occasional tendency to be unable to tell the difference between imagination and reality, and the good news is we can use this to our advantage.
Imagine you need to prepare for an important job interview. First picture yourself confidently striding into the interview room, answering the questions with purpose, and impressing the panel.
When you do this, you activate many of the same areas of the brain that would be activated had you experienced the situation in real life.
When affirmations are repeated often enough, the brain starts to take them as fact. Over time, self-belief increases and your actions usually follow.
How to use affirmations
Here is how you can use affirmations to your advantage and maximize their effectiveness:
- Identify self-defeating behaviors – take some time to determine which emotions, thoughts, or behaviors are not in your best interests.
- Speak affirmations out loud – compared to reading, speaking your affirmations out loud increases the likelihood of new connections or desirable activity in the brain. Incense or candles can also be used when repeating affirmations such that any time they are lit, beneficial areas of the brain are reactivated.
- Use present tense – avoid terms like “soon”, “later”, or “better” when creating your affirmations. In other words, replace “I will be fit and eat healthier soon” with “I am a fit and healthy eater” and remember that affirmations are more like assurances and less like objectives that need to be ticked off.
- Avoid negative terms – do not create affirmations with negative terms (even if the intent is positive). For example, the affirmation “I am not a nervous and hesitant interview candidate” may be detrimental because it focuses on what you are trying to avoid. Always base your affirmations on positive outcomes.
- Direct, simple, and specific – to ensure your conscious mind has agreement from your unconscious mind, make the affirmation as direct, simple, and specific as possible. For example: “I earn a full time income working 25 hours a week from home. I make positive contributions to my company and I enjoy extra time to spend with my husband and kids.”
- Take action – simply stating an affirmation can boost your confidence and motivation, but actions speak louder than words. If you want to run a business based on one of your passions, register the business or buy the domain name.
- Add visualizations – another way to increase the effectiveness of affirmations is to visualize what you want in your subconscious. If it’s a new vacation home, picture a secluded cabin in the woods. What you can smell, hear, see, and taste? Make it as real as possible.
Below we have listed some affirmation examples in various contexts.
- I believe in myself and in my ability to succeed in all that I do.
- As I become more successful, I am able to help more people.
- I am a wonderful business coach and my schedule is always booked with clients who want to work with me.
- Money is no longer a problem for me because I have more than I will ever need or desire. I donate a sizeable portion of my income to charity and I am still free to do as I please when it pleases me.
- It is my chance to shine and I will accept the financial rewards my business affords me.
- My ideas sell because I believe in them.
- I let go of self-doubt and pessimism whenever I encounter an obstacle or unfair colleague at work.
- My food choices are healthy and balanced.
- I am a person that invests time in my physical and mental health.
- I enjoy moving my body on a daily basis and I listen to what my body tells me.
- I am always open to new opportunities or ideas to improve my health.
- My breathing is slow and steady and I release negative thoughts.
- I commit to spending time with my family even when there are pressing issues at work.
- When I spend time with my family, we make happy memories that will last a lifetime and become closer.
- Every member of my family has unique strengths and weaknesses and contributes to the family unit in their own way.
- I am a person who does not break promises made to family members.
- My family is accepting of the fact that I am not perfect and offer unconditional love anyway.
- Affirmations are short statements used to enforce positive thinking. Some believe positive affirmations are a magic bullet while others dismiss them as baseless pseudoscience.
- Affirmations strengthen positive neural pathways in the brain and decrease our reliance on negative pathways that no longer serve us. They can also be used to imagine desirable future states and activate the same areas of the brain that are activated had the state been experienced in reality.
- To maximize the effectiveness of affirmations, the individual must start by identifying thoughts, behaviors, or emotions that are holding them back. Once formulated, it is important to speak the affirmations out loud, use the present tense, avoid negative terms, and add visualizations.
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