Positive affirmations are defined as statements that affirm something to be true. To explain, positive affirmations generally mean positive phrases that a person repeats to themselves to describe how they want to be. Positive affirmations are positive phrases or statements used to challenge and eliminate negative or unhelpful thoughts that would hold one back. Practicing positive affirmations can be extremely simple. It mainly involves picking a phrase and repeating it to oneself constantly. Positive affirmations require regular practice, ideally a few minutes every day at least, to make lasting, long-term changes to the way one thinks and feels. Positive affirmations are widely accepted and well-established in psychological studies.
Guidelines on creating effective positive affirmations:
- Begin with the words “I am” as they are extremely powerful.
- Use the present tense.
- State it positively and do not talk or think about what you don’t want.
- Keep it simple, brief, and specific.
- Try to include gratitude.
- Include at least one dynamic emotion or feeling word.
- Affirmations should be about oneself and not others.
Repeat the affirmations every day for at least 5 to 10 minutes preferably out loud with energy and enthusiasm. Writing down the affirmations a few times is also effective. The best times for family affirmations are in the morning, before going to bed, and during stressful or negative situations. They may also be made into posters, sticky notes on the mirror, phone screensaver, or the cell phone case, so they can be remembered through the day.
Examples of positive affirmations
Some examples of positive affirmations are:
- I am confident.
- I am confident socially and enjoy meeting new people.
- I am naturally self-confident and comfortable with myself and these are just parts of who I am.
- I am happy driving my new car.
- I am enjoying my new home.
- I am so happy and grateful that I now have a bigger house.
- I am happy and grateful that I am now earning more than I did last year.
- I am so happy and grateful that I have reached my ideal weight.
What is the science behind positive affirmations?
The theory is that when one starts saying positive affirmations to themselves, though they may not be true, with repetition they embed into the subconscious mind and eventually they become believable to the person. This belief helps make them a reality. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and becomes true. Over time, the negative beliefs fade and get replaced with positive thoughts. This helps to boost confidence, build positivity, pursue ambition, and achieve goals.
The development of self-affirmation theory has led to several neuroscientific studies to investigate whether there are any changes in the brain following positive self-affirmation. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning showed certain neural pathways were increased in a part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex when people practiced positive self-affirmation. This is the part of the brain involved in positive valuation and self-related information processing.
What are the benefits of positive affirmations?
Practicing positive self-affirmation every day has the following benefits:
- Decreases stress levels and improves overall health, including mental health.
- Cope with threats from people and intimidating people.
- Cope better with disappointment and sad news.
- Motivation to work harder at work or school.
- Motivation to achieve fitness goals and other goals.
- Motivation to eat better.
- Boost in confidence and performance.
- Motivation to change for the better.
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Harris PS, Harris PR, Miles E. Self-Affirmation Improves Performance on Tasks Related to Executive Functioning. J Exp Soc Psychol. 2017; 70:281-285. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103116302840