“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your hearts”- Roy Bennett

Sometimes, people may find it hard to believe in themselves or think positively as they tend to focus on the worst-case scenarios. Such thoughts can have a strong effect on individuals as the subconscious mind plays a significant role in the manifestation of one’s desires and outcomes in their life. Hence, rather than focusing on the obstacles or the negatives, being optimistic and confident as well as focusing on your goals can have an equally powerful effect and drive a positive change in your career and life, thereby helping you succeed. 

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations typically refer to positive, optimistic statements that individuals say to themselves which helps shift their mindset in ways that can be more beneficial for their life. For example, if someone lacks confidence, repeating statements such as ‘I am confident, strong and capable’ everyday may facilitate in changing their mindset to one that believes that they are confident and as a result, their confidence levels may increase. Hence, affirmations are statements that people can repeat to themselves in order to alter their thinking style to one that is more constructive. 

A common misconception regarding affirmations is that it is unrealistic, wishful thinking or that they make our thoughts come true. However, this is not what affirmations are or how they work. Affirmations help people think in ways that betters their behaviour and life. It can be considered as a mental exercise to strengthen one’s mind, just like people do repetitive exercise to improve their physical health. 

How Do Affirmations Work?

Affirmations are designed to create self-change in a gradual manner. They work by reprograming our subconscious mind which consequently encourages us to believe certain things about ourselves or the world around us. On a biological level, the brain is neuroplastic and thus, it can change, alter and adapt its neural networks by growth and reorganisation throughout one’s life. When people affirm on a regular basis, it can break old neural networks in the brain and replace them with the formation of these new connections. As a result, it can alter habits in a neurological sense which would subsequently influence one’s thinking patterns. 

Psychologically, the internal dialogue that occurs in our head may be beneficial at times, however, if it consists of negativity, fear and worry, it can be counterproductive and hinder your progression. Listening to what you did incorrectly or what could go wrong and increasing your anxiousness is not helpful. Therefore, affirming regularly can permeate such thinking and counteract this negativity. When people repeat affirmations, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the more one repeats something to themselves, it is more likely that they would start believing it and may subsequently make positive changes in their life. Hence, affirmations can encourage self-change on a biological level as well as psychological by helping people learn to think differently in a progressive manner. 

Why Use Affirmations?

The general purpose of affirmations is to better one’s wellbeing and life, particularly in terms of happiness, love and wealth. Research suggests that self-affirmations have the ability to improve problem solving skills and performance as well as act as a buffer when experiencing stress. It can also increase one’s self-esteem and resilience. For example, if you receive harsh criticisms from your boss or manager, affirmations may act as a protective barrier wherein you can still feel good about yourself despite the negative feedback. However, it is important to note that this does not imply that you ignore the criticism or refuse to take negative feedback into consideration. On the contrary, affirmations help you prevent feeling bad about yourself or your achievements in such situations. Affirmations also help challenge and defeat self-doubt as well as self-sabotaging thoughts and facilitates the development of a more positive outlook about our experiences and ourselves. For some, they may act as an inspiration or self-reminder and enhance focus on certain goals. Therefore, affirmations can help enrich one’s life and their sense of self in various ways. 

How to Create and Use Affirmations?

The affirmations you utilise can be ones that you create for yourself or ones that others have created. If you would like to use existing affirmations, ensure that they resonate with you and are appropriate for your situation. If required, you can alter certain words or phrases and tailor it to your needs. However, you can also create your own affirmations. Although this may sound complicated, it is, in fact, quite simple. Here is a list of elements that can help you make your own affirmations: 

  • Write them in first person– Affirmations are the most effective when written in first person as it makes it more personal, relatable to one’s identity and serves as a powerful motivator for self-change. Hence, ensure that you begin your affirmation with words such as ‘I’, ‘I am’ or ‘My’. For example, ‘I grow every day, ‘I am courageous’ or ‘My life is full of opportunities and potential’. 
  • Be positive– Ensure that your affirmation is worded in a positive manner as that helps encourage change. For example, rather than saying ‘I will not smoke anymore’ you may say ‘I make healthy choices as I love myself more when I do so’.
  • Make it emotive– Try to include feelings in your affirmations by utilising emotional words as they have the ability to affect and influence somatic experiences. For instance, you may say ‘I feel immense love and gratitude in being able to spend time with my family’ rather than saying ‘I should spend time with family’, which sounds like an errand. 
  • Use present tense– When writing affirmations, assume that it is currently happening. For example, affirming ‘I am happy and whole’ instead of ‘By next month, I will be happy and whole’ or ‘I am enough’ rather than ‘I will be enough when I try harder to do better’. Although this may seem peculiar when you consciously think about it, remember that the purpose of affirming is to alter your subconscious thinking. 
  • Personalise it– In order to make affirmatios work, it is essential that the affirmations you write are ones that resonate with you and speak to your deepest desires. Moreover, ensure that you update these affirmations regularly in order to maintain its emotional power. 

Once you have written down your set of affirmations, utilise them consistently and on a daily basis. This can be done through various methods such as repeating them to yourself once you wake up and before you go to bed, writing them down and leaving it around your house in plain sight for you to read (such as on your fridge, in your purse or wallet, near your laptop or on a mirror) or even by recording yourself saying them and listening to it daily. There is no right or wrong way of using affirmations, thus, choose the method that you believe is best suited for you. Note that the duration of how long one repeats the same affirmations will vary from individual to individual. People may use the same affirmations for days or even weeks, it depends on your personal goals and preference. Lastly, do not expect change overnight! This process, like many others, takes time and patience. Therefore, focus on making small improvements which can help you see the desired results in the long run.