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50 Life Affirming Affirmations To Change Your Life
Author: Sue Mazur
Did you know that in 2021, one of the most popular Google searches worldwide was ‘Affirmations’?
It makes you wonder why doesn’t it. While affirmations are no substitute for professional help such as personal development, self-discovery courses or counselling when you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, those who swear by the power of affirmations find it improves their mindset and performance.
Affirmations can be used to motivate yourself, encourage positive change in your life, or boost your self-esteem. And yes, there is genuine theory, studies, evidence and a fair amount of neuroscience behind this practice. If you’re looking to form better mental health habits, this is a great, and free, place to start.
What Are Affirmations, and Do They Work?
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge, overcome, or refocus negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes.
You may have thought that affirmations are unrealistic and a bit of fluff – wishful thinking. But think of it this way. Many of us do repetitive and consistent exercise that improves our physical health. Affirmations are the same for our mind and outlook. By focusing on them we can reprogram our thinking patterns and consciously put into place thoughts that are positive and have meaning to us, so that, over time, we begin to think – and act – differently.
From Fluff to Life Affirming
Affirmations allow your intellect (mind) to keep up a global narrative about yourself. In self-affirmation theory, you move away from viewing yourself in one “fixed” way, as a “student”, “daughter”, “the grumpy one” or whatever “label” you or someone has put on you, and move yourself into flexible way of seeing yourself and adopting a different way of being - including how you define success and your ability to adapt to different situations. You can also better handle pressure on your thoughts and energy, so you are clearer to improve your life. When you use affirmations to ‘self-affirm’ and it is aligned to your values and realistic aspirations for the future, this is extremely powerful. That’s the caveat though – there has to be alignment for it to be effective.
Benefits of Daily Affirmations
Affirmations have many benefits and may also boost your overall health too. Studies support the idea that the words we choose matter. A good positive affirmation can help you decrease health-deteriorating stress, increase the neural pathways in your brain, lower rumination, respond in a less defensive and resistant way, develop more adaptive and resilient sense of self. Other research found that saying or writing down affirmations may foster a deeper sense of belonging.
In addition, incorporating your affirmations into meditation can be relaxing and soothing. Meditation has been also been found to also have numerous benefits in terms of mental health. Keeping an affirmation journal is also highly beneficial.
What Does The Research Say?
Evidence suggests that positive affirmations can help your performance. According to an Oxford Academic publication, “self-affirmation can restore self-competence by allowing individuals to reflect on sources of self-worth. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI’s) results demonstrated that participations showed increased activity in key regions of the brain’s self-processing, and this neural activity went on to predict changes in sedentary behaviour”.
According to researchers, spending just a few minutes thinking about your best qualities before a high-pressure meeting at work (e.g. a performance review) can calm your nerves, increase your confidence and improve your chances of a successful outcome.
Further, self-affirmation may also help to mitigate the effects of stress. In one study, a short affirmation exercise boosted the problem-solving abilities of “chronically stressed” subjects to the same level as those with low stress.
What’s more, affirmations have been used to successfully treat people with low self-esteem, depression and other mental health conditions. And they have been shown to stimulate the areas in our brains that make us more likely to effect positive changes in regard to our health.
Powering Up Your Affirmations
There is evidence that the higher your self-esteem, the more effective affirmations can be. The use of affirmations is one way to make positive changes in our life. When you pair them up with goal setting, self-discovery personal development, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, positive thinking, you can really power-up this technique. It gives you the opportunity to analyse the thoughts and behaviours that you would like to change in your life and career and develop positive, credible and achievable affirmation statements that are the opposite of the negative thoughts that you hear in your head or sit on your shoulder, weighing you down.
Negative thinking and impulses can cause severe health problems, and in extreme cases, death. While these techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing occasional negative thinking, they are for guidance only. If you have any concerns over related illnesses or if negative thoughts are causing significant or persistent unhappiness, please take this seriously, and book in a consultation.
How to Write an Affirmation Statement
Think about the areas of your life that you’d like to change, e.g. do you wish you had less anger or more patience? Or more loving relationships with loved ones and friends? Or would you really like a work day where your mind is clear, focused and productive?
Write down several areas or behaviours that you would like to focus on. Be sure that they are compatible with your core values and the things that matter the most to you and are reasonable and achievable. You want to feel genuinely motivated and believe that you can achieve them. If you set an unrealistic goal (ie doubling your salary without improving your skills) it is unlikely that affirmations will impact your life – they aren’t fairy dust.
Write your affirmations in the present tense, as if it is really happening. Writing it as “I am confident, prepared and well-rehearsed, and I can give a great presentation” is great, rather than “I can be confident if I prepare and rehearse”. The first example helps you to believe that the statement is true – RIGHT NOW.
Remember to say it with feeling. Affirmations are effective when they carry a true feeling behind them. You need to want this change to happen, so every affirmation that you choose to repeat should be a phrase meaningful to you.
Examples of Affirmations
What can you do now?
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