The Effect of Affirmations
What do you tell yourself when you don’t succeed at something on your first try? Do you tell yourself to try again, or do you believe you will never succeed? Is the voice in your head supportive or blameful?
It’s no surprise that the way we talk to ourselves has a huge impact on our mental health. When the voice in your head is critical, your confidence, your mental health, your mood, and your outlook will be negatively impacted as well. You may find yourself stuck in a negative cycle.
This is when positive affirmations can come into play. An affirmation is a phrase you repeat to yourself that embodies how you wish to feel or be. The best part is that every aspect of that affirmation is tailored by you! You get to choose what you want to tell yourself, how specific or general your affirmation is, how often you say it, whether you say it out loud, or in your head, or even have it written down and placed wherever you like. The purpose of your affirmations is to challenge any of the negative thoughts and outlooks you are having and help you reshape your mindset. Affirmations are based on facts that we tend to overlook.
Tips for Effective Affirmations
For some, the open-ended possibilities of affirmations can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some guidelines that you can follow to maximize the strength of your affirmations
Positive affirmations work best when it is specific to a trait, situation, or concern you are dealing with. For example, do you have an important meeting at work coming up that you are feeling anxious about? Do you wish to have more patience? Are you trying to have a more healthy lifestyle? Focus the thought on what you want.
Keep it short and easy to repeat
Keep the thought in the present tense, and repeat it as if it is already happening
Think about previous experiences that help you recognize that the affirmation is already true.
Use the affirmation regularly. The affirmation will only work if you continue to say it to yourself
How can Positive Thoughts Benefit You?
Research has shown that when we effectively use positive affirmations, our brains begin to change, along with many behavioural and lifestyle factors:
Affirmations can help you perform better. Positive self-talk before situations such as a meeting, presentation, or a test can reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, and lead to better performance.
Positive affirmations reduce chronic stress and help you to persevere through stressful times.
Research has found that people who use positive affirmations have more activity in the reward centers of the brain than those who do not. The activity in the reward centers helps to affect positive change in our lives, which can help with depression, low self-esteem, and general low mental health.
Affirmations can help reroute negative self-talk loops into positive ones. When we experience a thought, our brain sends electrical messages across the neural pathways. When we continuously think that though, it reinforces that pathway and makes it stronger. The stronger it gets, the easier it is for your brain to fire down that neural pathway and continue the negativity. However, when we interrupt those negative thoughts with positive ones, we teach our brain to make new, positive pathways which we then consciously reinforce.
Examples of Positive Affirmations
My hard work will pay off
I am worthy of love
If I keep trying, I will be successful
I have the power to make the right choices for myself
I am confident
I trust myself
I am capable
Start paying attention to how you talk to yourself. You may be stuck in an unconscious negative loop without even realizing it. Positive affirmations can help to take some power away from that negative voice in your head. However, positive affirmations don’t work by themselves. If you feel you are struggling, it is important to reach out for counselling services to get the help you need.
Goldman, R. (2022, November 04). Affirmations: What They Are, Health Benefits, and Getting Started. EverydayHealth. https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/what-are-affirmations/
Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.) MindTools. https://www.mindtools.com/air49f4/using-affirmations
Regan, S. (2023, March 31). Curious About Affirmations? Here’s How They Work + How to Start Using Them. MBGMindfulness. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-are-affirmations
Taylor, M. (2022, June 08). What to Know About Positive Affirmations. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-to-know-positive-affirmations