What are affirmations?
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines affirmations as ‘A statement or sign that something is true.’
Using affirmations can transform the way you think, help you increase your confidence and achieve those goals you set for yourself. You can use them whenever you want to make a positive change in your life. They’re great when you’re not feeling your best, if you need a boost in your confidence, if you’re feeling stressed, having high demands from work or school or going through setbacks.
Many people believe that affirmations are only used positively; some even think they are stupid and pointless. But what many people don’t realise is that affirmations can be either positive or negative, and we use them all the time without even realising.
How can affirmations help me?
The problem with negative thoughts is that they can become self-fulfilling prophecies. A great quote from Henry Ford that we absolutely love captures this idea well:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
You must have experienced situations where someone tells you that you ‘can’t do something’, ‘you’re clumsy’, ‘you’re dull’ or ‘you’re not good enough’ etc. Hearing these kinds of statements can negatively affect both the conscious and unconscious mind, affecting the thoughts you have.
The more times you hear these negative statements, the more you’ll start believing they’re true. Whether you say it to yourself, or someone tells you these negative phrases, you’re using an affirmation. This may not sound good, but great news, it will work with positive statements too! Repeating a positive phrase will help you to start believing it is true. Once you believe it, your behaviour will match your thoughts and beliefs. So, it is very important for our affirmations to be positive ones.
Affirmations have helped many people make significant changes in their lives. Why is this? Well, your subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is a fantasy.
For example, you were not born believing you are not clever or cannot do something. Instead, you will have heard this from someone else when you were younger. Maybe you heard it regularly or kept telling it yourself, so the brain eventually started to believe it. These thoughts can stick with you and is probably why you believe them to be true today.
The key is to change those thoughts into positive ones by telling yourself a positive affirmation repeatedly; they work with practice. Saying statements like ‘I can do this’, ‘I am good enough’ or ‘I can achieve anything that I put my mind to’. One of our favourites is ‘I am the greatest’ by Muhammad Ali. The more you say it, eventually, the subconscious will think it is real, just as it did when you stored the negative affirmation. Once the brain accepts the new message, it will store it, but only if it wants to accept it.
So why don’t affirmations work for everybody?
Affirmation only works when you programme your mind to accept the stated concept. When you have a negative belief ingrained deep within you, it has the power to override the effects of the positive affirmations without you even being aware of it. So, if this is you, affirmations will still be able to work for you; it will just take you a little bit longer to build your confidence and push out that negative thinking!
Your need for positive affirmations may be different to someone else, so using the same affirmations as them may not be beneficial to you.
For instance, if you’re suffering from low self-esteem, going full blast into positive affirmations, such as “every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”, could lead your mind into conflict and make you feel worse. So, if this is you, try using low-key affirmations and build them up over time. For example, “I have had better days, but I have also had worse. Today I am OK” or “I am working on accepting me as I am”. Eventually, as your self-esteem begins to lift, you can introduce more positive language, such as “I am whole and complete just the way I am”, and you will start to programme your mind to accept the stated concept. Defeat the negative affirmations by unleashing positive ones.
When should I do my affirmations?
Start slowly with just 3-5 minutes a least twice a day. When you wake up or get into bed, repeat the positive statement about 10 times. Listen to yourself saying the words and really believe it is true. Be patient, as it may take a little while before you notice any changes but stick with your practice.
By making these positive declarations part of your daily life, you are helping your mind prioritise positivity over negativity.
You can create your affirmations for yourself or simply go online to find the ones for you, it’s that simple.
To find out more on this topic…
Listen to our ‘A is for Affirmations’ podcast episode
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