The Power of Positive Affirmations
Take positive care of your mind, and it will surely take positive care of your life.-Edmond Mbiaka
Positive affirmations can be a powerful tool to help you change your mood or state of mind and to manifest the change you desire in your life.
Affirmations are present-tense declarations about the life you want to live, repeated regularly. These statements help you change the way you think and feel about your life situation, your relationships and yourself. Infusing these positive declarations into your daily life in the form of written or spoken "affirmations" is extremely helpful for overall mental health and wellbeing.
When you speak positive words to yourself, you enhance your internal locus of control, see yourself in a more positive light, and establish a positive mindset to help you create a life you love.
What are affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself, which studies show can help you change the way you think and feel about your life. When you think, write and/or speak positive "present state" phrases, your overall sense of control increases.
As you see your life in a more positive light, the negative thought patterns about yourself, your life situation, your relationships will shift. The default, subconscious "victim thinking" that most people live with will, over time, be replaced with a conscious, positive thought pattern.
In addition to increasing self-acceptance and an internal locus of control, affirmations can be used to help with a variety of common mental health issues, such as anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, and depression. Incorporating positive affirmations with other mindfulness practices such as meditation, breathwork or yoga can improve your mental health by boosting self-love and self-confidence which are two important aspects of mental health.
When you love and accept yourself, you are more likely to feel happier and more content. When you have self-confidence, you are more likely to believe in your ability to achieve your goals. Both self-love and self-confidence are essential for a healthy mind and body.
What affirmations aren’t
Positive affirmations are not designed to be cures for anxiety or depression. Nor are they a substitute for clinical treatment of those conditions!
Affirmations shouldn’t be viewed as a magic bullet for personal healing or instant success. Writing or speaking positive words alone can’t produce change in every situation. Additionally, if you have low self-esteem to the point that your mind can’t imagine or accept a positive statement as ‘true’, an affirmation may have little effect.
Some people immediately write off positive affirmations as a “woo woo” practice that encourages people to ignore negative thoughts and feelings. To the contrary, one of the best ways to get started with a positive affirmation practice is to identify your limiting beliefs (aka accept that you have negative thoughts and feelings on a topic), and then imagine a positive new truth on that topic.
While incorporating positive affirmations into a mindfulness practice will bring positive change and success to most people, the truth is: affirmations don’t work for everyone. Some people have past experiences that cause deeply-grooved negative thought patterns which are best uncovered with help from a therapist.
A licensed therapist can help you identify the root causes of negative or unwanted thoughts, and to explore helpful coping strategies which likely include other tools in addition to positive affirmations. If you have negative thoughts that are frequently afflicting you or if you have unidentified unconscious negative beliefs, these may be so strong that they cancel the effectiveness of positive affirmations.
The benefits of using positive affirmations
The main benefit of incorporating positive affirmations into your life is the mental reframing of situations, circumstances, etc., you previously considered to be negative or out of your control.
When you start adding positive affirmations to your mindfulness practice, you may notice a number of positive changes in your life. Some of the benefits of using positive affirmations include:
- improved mental health
- increased self-love and self-confidence
- improved relationships
- increased success in life
- overall better wellbeing
All of these benefits are a result of changing the way you think and feel about yourself. When you begin to see yourself in a more positive light, you will find it easier to achieve your goals and be happier and more content with your life. Positive affirmations are a simple, easy way to boost your mental health and wellbeing.
How to incorporate positive affirmations in your life
If you're looking to start incorporating positive affirmations into your daily routine, here are a few tips to get you started:
Identify your limiting beliefs.
Affirmations work best if you can first identify and accept unwholesome beliefs that may currently be opposing positive thoughts.
A great way to do this is to first write down a page of "My dream life" in a journal.
Take this page and create a bulleted list of "Why I can't have my dream life". This list of "can't" will provide insight into some of your negative thought patterns; this is your starter list of limiting beliefs.
Take a moment to accept that they exist, thank these thoughts for trying to protect you, and decide that it's time for them to change.
Once you’ve identified your limiting beliefs, you'll imagine new truths that you can deeply believe in.
Find affirmations that resonate with you.
Not all affirmations will resonate with you, so it’s important to find ones that speak to you deeply.
Take your list of limiting beliefs and write an opposing "liberating truth" next to it. For example, if one of your limiting beliefs was "I can't have the house of my dreams because I will never have that much money", write down "I can have the house of my dreams because the amount of money I can make is unlimited."
This list of limiting thoughts reframed as liberating new truths will act as your starter affirmations.
Keep in mind that your mind can't differentiate the difference between reality and fantasy. As such, affirmations work best when they are stated as facts, perhaps even as if they occurred in the past.
Examples of this include:
"I have a strong, healthy body
"Every project I lead is successful"
"I have all the wealth I need to live a fulfilling life"
"I have many positive personal and professional relationships"
"I am a successful entrepreneur with a thriving business"
"I am a multimillionaire with a wonderful family life"
"I live in overwhelming abundance"
"I live in a beautiful home that has been featured in magazines"
These statements may feel silly to write down or say out loud – that's okay! When you identify an affirmation that seems outrageous or even embarrasses you, that may be revealing a deep soul desire that you've never let out.
When you find affirmations that excite you and feel true for the life you want to create, write them down and say them out loud often.
Incorporate it into your daily routine
When you first start, practice saying your affirmations out loud first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.
If you have a morning or evening routine, find a way to incorporate writing and/or saying this list often.
Some people prefer to sit with eyes closed to repeat the list in a form of meditation; some prefer to write affirmations in a mindfulness journal; others find that speaking affirmations to themselves in a mirror works best.
The point is to get your body and mind to feel the excitement of and gratitude for the affirmation with each repeated instance.
For some people, adding pictures of what they want their life to look like can be helpful when incorporating positive affirmations into their daily routine.
For example, if one of your affirmations is “I am worthy of love and happiness”, put a picture somewhere visible that shows what "love and happiness" look like for you - whether that means having friends surrounding you at a party or sitting alone on a mountaintop.
Conclusion: Create a life you love by practicing positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are a great way to help change your thoughts and beliefs about your life, which in turn can help you create a life you love.
Affirmations work by harnessing the neural plasticity of the brain (i.e. the ability to change and grow) to "correct" the way you think and feel about yourself. When you re-wire your mind to envision yourself and your circumstances in a positive light full of desired outcomes, you will begin to notice positive changes occur that you've been envisioning [this is via another brain function called the Reticular Activating System (RAS)]. In short, affirmations are conscious thoughts that aid your brain in envisioning what you want, which your brain then starts subconsciously looking for all around you, bringing up in conversation, noticing in others, etc.
Incorporating positive affirmations in your life is an intentional practice of harnessing the power of your mind to create the life you want!