How many times have you told yourself that you love and believe in yourself out loud or on paper? Perhaps rarely. I was exactly the same before I learned about affirmations and now they are part of my daily routine which has helped me become a better and more successful person.
There is some hard science as to why affirmations work and it’s all to do with how our brains are wired. In this guide, I’ll share everything I know about affirmations and some tips to help you write your own.
What Are Affirmations?
The definition of an affirmation is the assertion that something exists or is true.
When we talk about affirmations in regards to positive thinking and empowerment, we refer to positive sayings that we can think in our head, write down, or say out loud.
The idea behind this is that repeating the positive thoughts will help you assert that they are true.
For example, thinking about your best qualities before a high-stress meeting can increase your confidence and improve your chances of having a successful meeting (source).
Of course, it’s not just the words that do this, it’s the mindset behind them and you need to believe the words are true deep inside.
Do Affirmations Work?
Affirmations work because the repetition of positive phrases about yourself can encourage your brain to believe they are true. This is because when you imagine doing something in your mind, it activates the same parts of your brain as when you actually do the action (source).
A survey published in the Journal of Psychology asked respondents about their spontaneous self-affirmation, wellbeing, and other factors. It was able to relate spontaneous self- to greater happiness, hopefulness, optimism, subjective health, and personal health efficacy, and less anger and sadness.
But, what about planned affirmations? A small-scale study by the Dominican University of California in 2020 gave participants affirmations twice a day and found increases in self-esteem, flourishing, and satisfaction with life after just two weeks.
Do Affirmations ALWAYS Work? (No – Here’s Why)
Positive affirmations are helpful with your mindset, however, they must be coupled with positive actions to achieve your goals.
Just thinking that you are wealthy and successful isn’t going to automatically make you wealthy and successful. However, it can help you overcome any negative thoughts that are holding back your success.
Everyone has negative thoughts that they need to overcome, but if you are feeling very down and have low self-esteem, it’s always best to see a therapist in addition to techniques such as this.
And please don’t mistake this as a technique for overcoming physical ailments. Some people, for example, Louise Hay in her book ‘You Can Hal your Life’ claims that her positive mind allows her to overcome any illness and disease, going as far as saying that she cured her cancer with a positive outlook. There is no scientific evidence to link positive thinking with physical diseases so be careful what you believe.
How to Write Your Affirmations
So, that’s enough about how positive affirmations work, now it’s time to get down to business and manifest your life.
Here is how to write some powerful affirmations:
- Start your affirmations with ‘I’ or ‘My’. This makes them begin with you which is more effective to satisfy your need for self-integrity and self-consistency (source). Some of the most popular choices will be ‘I am’, ‘I love’ and ‘I have’.
- Write your affirmations in the present tense. This is key to the process and will help you assert that they are true.
- Think of something negative you’d like to overcome and write it as a positive statement. For example,if you want to be happier, you might write “I am worthy of feeling happy”.
- Try to include a verb (an -ing word) – When you include an action, your brain will imagine you doing that action which triggers the same neural response as actually doing it.
- Don’t write too many. A common mistake is to write hundreds of affirmations and you’ll quickly get confused and overwhelmed trying to complete them all. Start small and stick to a routine.
On this blog and many others, you’ll find lots of lists of affirmations that can help give you some ideas. Use these for inspiration only, try to make your affirmations personal and specific to your own life.
How Many Affirmations Should I Do Each Day?
There is no exact number of affirmations that you should do each day as it depends on your personal routine and what you want to achieve. Healthline recommend you repeat each affirmation 10 times per day, lasting around 5 minutes in the morning and at night.
By this calculation, you should be able to repeat around 10-15 affirmations each day.
However, if you look at others who publicly share their affirmation routine, this can be much more. For example, YouTuber Marisa Barad said she says between 40 and 100 affirmations every day depending upon how much time she has available.
The key is to get into a routine that isn’t to cumbersome so that you can stick to it. Remember, repetition is key.