You will often find that repeating positive affirmations is suggested as a remedy for several personal and psychological concerns. These issues may range from procrastination to intense low self-esteem.
It’s well known that saying positive statements over and over again will lead to higher self-esteem and a better mindset.
But does it really work that way?
Let’s check out what psychology has to say about positive affirmations and whether they work.
Self-Affirmation Theory and Positive Affirmations
The idea of positive affirmations as a way to heal yourself comes from the psychological concept of self-affirmation. It’s a concept that has been tested with empirical studies and is widely recognized in the field of psychology.
Self-affirmation is based on the concept that people want to maintain a consistent and positive view of themselves. They also react to any threats to their identities with resistance. Following this line of thinking, positive affirmations work when they play to our identities.
Positive affirmations are effective when they remind us of our core values. However, if you try to force yourself to use affirmations when they clash with what you believe deep inside, then you’ll feel even more stressed and anxious. For example, someone with body dysmorphia who says ‘I am beautiful’ will actually feel worse than before. Because at a fundamental level, they believe the opposite.
Our need to affirm ourselves can be seen in many small ways. We often use social media as a way to get validation and affirmation externally.
Did you know that 27% of people head straight to social media right when they wake up? Part of the reason is to see if they have gained any attention. This can be an unhealthy habit. Instead of this, we can use positive affirmations the right way to build a mindset that is content and well-balanced.
How to Use Positive Affirmations Effectively
We know that positive affirmations don’t work when they go against core beliefs. So, how do we make effective affirmations? Let’s take a look.
Star with Your Values and Beliefs
What are the rock-solid beliefs and values that matter to you? Is it hard work? Perhaps you care about your family and their wellbeing the most.
Start with a list of your values and beliefs and build affirmations based on them. For example, you may lack confidence at work. But if one of your core values is to do well for your family, the affirmation ‘I fear nothing when I have my family behind me’ may propel you to volunteer to do an awesome presentation.
Create affirmations that match your foundational belief system. Choosing something superficial that doesn’t matter to you may actually hurt you in the long run by making you uncomfortable and unhappy.
Make it Short and Easy to Remember
Think of your positive affirmation as a mantra. It needs to be something short and sweet so that you can repeat it easily and often. Longer phrases won’t pop up in your mind as easily as a short one.
Dr. Susan Pierce Thompson who helps people with binge eating suggests that people say ‘That’s not my food’ when faced with something that is unhealthy. This catchphrase is a great example of a short and effective affirmation.
When you start doing affirmations, especially for the first time, you’ll need reminders to help you stay consistent. You can set up alarms on your phone or post your affirmations on a paper and stick it on a board or in front of the refrigerator.
Having reminders will ensure that you do the initial work of repeating your affirmations. In time, they will become second nature.
Using pictures and creating images is helpful for those who tend to be more visual in their experience. Some people do better when they deliberately use metaphorical language. Here, you opt for a visual metaphor instead of a verbal affirmation.
For example, you may envision yourself soaring like an eagle or moving like a figure skater when you feel like you lack confidence. This kind of visual positive affirmation can help you feel composed in front of an audience or during an exam.
The real key to any successful change is to practice something continuously. This applies to practising positive affirmations too. You need to repeat something over and over again.
In everyday life, 63% of people need to hear a company’s claims 3-5 times before they believe it. It works similarly to you when doing your affirmations.
Keep repeating them to give them the best chance of working until they simply become a part of who you are.
Affirmations have power but they work best when they are built from your core beliefs.
Remember to make meaningful and interesting catchphrases that reflect who you are, but also drive you forward in life. Make use of the suggestions here and you’re certain to see improvements with the help of positive affirmations.