The Case for Positive Affirmations
"I love and accept myself." — Affirmation Kitty
Although some people might think positive affirmations are a little corny, in my coaching work, I find they can be very helpful for anyone who wants to boost confidence and set positive goals. If you’re curious (or even skeptical) about the effectiveness of affirmations, I invite you to read on to see how positive affirmations can impact your life for the better.
Affirmations Can Be Negative or Positive
If you take a moment to think about all of the places your mind goes to in a day, you’ll realize that there are both positive and negative things that you think (and speak) about. This means that affirmations can be either positive or negative. As we move through our lives, we develop thought processes that turn into belief systems. If we think of affirmations as being the same as thoughts, negative affirmations turn into negative belief systems, which can impact the way we perceive ourselves and our places in the world. For example, by repeatedly thinking, “I’m not good at writing,” you ingrain in yourself the belief that you are not (and will never be) good at writing. In doing so, you cut yourself off from opportunities because you’ve decided (through your self-talk) that you aren’t good at it, and you might lose all hope of getting better. Many people suffer from these negative thought patterns that lead them into a downward spiral and block them from reaching their goals or enjoying their lives. One way to counteract these negative beliefs is by consciously changing the way we think. A concrete and effective way of doing this is by thinking and saying positive affirmations.
How do positive affirmations work?
Positive affirmations are a powerful way to stop negative thought patterns. When you think or speak a positive affirmation, it signals your subconscious mind that you are making a change and beginning to think about yourself and your life in a different way. Just like any process of change, it takes time and practice for these affirmations to sink in and “stick” as part of your thought pattern.
The effectiveness of positive affirmations in certain situations is backed up by science. A study recently published in Psychological Science explores the neurophysiological reactions that help explain how positive affirmations help people deal with threats to self-integrity. Another study by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (published in PLOS ONE) determined that positive affirmations protect individuals against the negative effects of stress on problem-solving abilities. In addition to scientific research, there is a large body of anecdotal evidence that people feel more optimistic about certain aspects of their lives when they use positive affirmations.
How do I increase the effectiveness of my positive affirmations?
There are several things you can do to increase the effectiveness of positive affirmations. Saying the affirmations out loud gives them weight and signals your subconscious mind to take them seriously. To increase the effectiveness of positive affirmations, make a conscious decision to think positive thoughts throughout the day. Challenging yourself to find one positive thing about each situation also helps. At the end of your day, review everything you did, your conversations with people, your reactions, etc., and think of at least one positive thing that came out of it. These positive thoughts will “prime” your mind to accept the positive affirmations, thus making them more effective. When you dedicate yourself to this process, before long, you’ll notice that you feel better and that you are able to approach life in a more positive and productive way.
What are some examples of positive affirmations to try?
The great thing about positive affirmations is that they can be tailored to your specific goals or general in nature. Here are some general affirmations you can try.
I love and accept myself.
I listen to my inner wisdom.
Wonderful opportunities are out there for me.
I surround myself with loving people.
I sleep soundly and awaken refreshed.
All my problems have a solution.
I am loved.
I am good at ______.
I am valued and respected.
If you’re interested in learning more about positive affirmations, I invite you to listen to my guided relaxation recording that focuses on positivity, Uplifting Guided Relaxation. http://www.atimeforexpression.com/recordings-1/uplifting-guided-relaxation
Kate Britt, “How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Using Affirmations,” Tiny Buddha, http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-change-your-mind-and-your-life-by-using-affirmations/
J. David Creswell, Janine M. Dutcher, William M. P. Klein, Peter R. Harris, John M. Levine, “Self-Affirmation Improves Problem-Solving under Stress,” PLOS ONE, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0062593
Lisa Legault, “Self-Affirmation Enhances Performance, Makes Us Receptive to Our Mistakes,” Psychological Science, http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/self-affirmation-enhances-performance-makes-us-receptive-to-our-mistakes.html