The Power of Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are positive statements used to change negative thoughts and thinking. These positive statements can be simple and easy to motivate yourself, make positive changes in your life and even boost your self-esteem!
If you catch yourself frequently having negative self talk, positive affirmations can be used to help change your negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones.
To practice positive affirmations all you do is pick something you want to work on or goal you want to achieve and use the statement to affirm that the goal is already completed.
E.g. if you want to work on being happy here are some affirmations
I AM HAPPY AND BLESSED
I FIND JOY IN MY LIFE AND EXPERIENCES
EACH DAY I FIND REASONS TO BE HAPPY
I AM GRATEFUL FOR _____ FOR BRINGING ME JOY
Repeating affirmations helps to reprogram the unconscious mind for success
According to psychotherapist Ronald Alexander, affirmations can be repeated up to three to five times daily to reinforce the positive belief. Writing your affirmations down in a journal and practising them in the mirror is a good way to make them more powerful and effective (Alexander, 2011)
Some people might think positive affirmations are wishy washy and don’t actually work, but they have the science to back them up!
One of the key psychological theories behind positive affirmations is self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988).
Self-affirmation theory is underpinned by three key ideas.
1) Through positive affirmations, we keep a positive narrative about ourselves, which in turn makes us view ourselves in a better light, which means we are better at adapting to situations. (Aronson, 1969).
2) The theory also states that ensuring we have self- identity isn’t all about being perfect, rather we just need to be good enough in different areas of our lives in order to be more, flexible and good (Steele, 1988).
3) We tend to act on these statements, for example, we don’t say “I am a responsible mother” just to be praised, we say it because we want to deserve that praise for acting in ways that coincide with that value.
But wait, there’s more! Researchers decided to test the theory with MRI’s to see if there were any changes in the brain when we use positive affirmations.
The results showed that certain neural pathways involved in positive valuation and self-related information processors were increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016).
Positive affirmations require regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel.
Alexander, R. (2011). 5 Steps To Make Affirmations Work For You. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-wise-open-mind/201108/5-steps-make-affirmations-work-you
Cascio, C. N., O’donnell, M. B., Tinney, F. J., Lieberman, M. D., Taylor, S. E., Strecher, V. J., & Falk, E. B. (2015). Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(4), 621-629.
Steele, C. M. (1988). The psychology of self-affirmation: Sustaining the integrity of the self. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 21. Social psychological studies of the self: Perspectives and programs (pp. 261-302). San Diego, CA, US: Academic Press.