Many a mental health blogger writes about affirmations, which is why I hadn’t. At first, I was resistant to writing about them and adding to the substantial information about affirmations that already exist. However, I reconsidered when I came across the self-affirmation theory. The theory got me so intrigued that I want to write about the theory in the future. Thus, writing about positive affirmations seemed like a good introduction for this later content.
Rumination and Affirmations
A common complaint of people struggling with their mental health, especially depression, is the stream of negative intrusive thoughts. Getting stuck on these negative thoughts is better known as rumination in the therapy and psychological world. We can’t control the instigation of rumination, as its uninternational (Koole, Smeets, van Knippenberg, and Dijksterhuis, 1999).
If it helps, think of rumination as negative affirmations. These negative thoughts that fill our heads are often harmful put downs about ourselves, causing our mental wellbeing to decline further.
Unfortunately, people can often leave therapy where they’re not depressed, but still suffer a low sense of wellbeing. This is where positive psychology can shine. Positive psychology interventions can improve wellbeing and decrease depressive symptoms (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009). You guessed it, positive affirmations are a part of positive psychology. We can use positive affirmations, which are positive statements about ourselves, to replace the negative messages we’re dealing with (Rana, 2018).
What Are Affirmations?
As I said in the last section, affirmations are complete positive sentences that work like a form of self-hypnosis (Rahayu and Rizki, 2020). They’re inherently positive statements, designed to encourage an optimistic mindset, because positivity done right can be powerful (Rana, 2018). I mentioned doing positivity right, because it is possible for positivity to become toxic. But that is a discussion for another article.
It might seem silly, but positive affirmations can charge our perspective about life and the surrounding environment, making us more positive (Rahayu and Rizki, 2020). The benefits of this can cause our self-esteem to improve, improve our self-confidence, and make us feel better.
In one of my pervious articles about how to handle toxic family members, I talk about using positive affirmations. I talked about it in that article because using the right positive statements can build you up when your family normally brings you down. In that context, using positive affirmations work like a wish, hope, or an ideal you want to reach (Rahayu and Rizki, 2020). So if you keep telling yourself you are strong, and use that as a strength word to live up to, you’ll start getting stronger.
Example Of Positive Affirmations
It’s easy to use positive affirmations. All you need to do is find the right phrase and repeat it to yourself to motivative yourself, to bring about positive changes, and to boost your self-esteem (Rana, 2018). However, you have to remember that just saying this one or twice to yourself won’t help. If you want positive affirmations to work, you have to keep saying it to yourself regularly. In short, make it a routine so it becomes a habit.
To start, look are the areas of your life that you want to change. You can also turn the negative thoughts you into a positive. For example, if your negative intrusive thoughts are telling you you’re “fat and out of shape”, then you could replace this by saying “I’m taking action to become healthier every day”.
Although you might not be taking that action yet, positive affirmations power works in the present. If you put them in the future, you’ll relegate them to something you’ll get around to doing (Complete Developer Podcast). If you want to focus on doing stuff in the future, then that’s what goals and SMART goals are for.
When it comes to positive affirmations, we’re not saying them to get some sort of praise from others. Rather, we’re saying it because we want to become that or we want to deserve that praise by acting accordingly (Rana, 2018).
- I am a good person.
- I am a caring person.
- I am grateful for the people I have in my life.
- I am successful.
- I am a unique and worthy person.
- I deserve to be happy.
- I can overcome any problem that comes my way.
- I will not compare myself to others.
- I am open to new opportunities.
- I will stop judging myself.
- My life is full of potential.
- I will treat myself with kindness.
- I am a good parent.
- I have the ability to recover from difficulties.
- I am getting healthier every day.
- I can accept what I cannot change.
- I will ignore the negatives and focus on the positives.
- I have value.
- I am capable of making decisions.
- I am a strong person.
Different Ways To Use Affirmations
Positive affirmations can challenge negative thoughts that are often subconscious patterns, replacing them with more adaptive narratives (Rana, 2018). However, you don’t have to be confined to just repeating a phrase to yourself. There are other ways to do this.
Rahayu and Rizki (2020) conducted a study into the effects of positive affirmations on anxiety of giving birth during the second stage of labour. Using 30 pregnant women, they allocated 15 of them to the group receiving positive affirmations on flashcards. The other 15 pregnant women didn’t have any positive affirmations. The study found that there was a significant positive effect of the flashcards on the participants’ anxiety of giving birth. This study brings us to our first alterative method of using positive affirmations.
As with Rahayu and Rizki (2020) study, you just need to write positive statements, phrases, and words on flashcards. Then you can look at them daily to help give yourself a positive mindset. Therefore, it could be best to do this at the start of your day.
There’s almost nothing journalling can’t fix, at least that’s the way it feels. Take time each day to write your positive affirmations. Doing this can help cement the positive affirmations in your mind, as you’ll be using multiple areas of the brain to do this task.
Get a pad of sticky notes and write the positive affirmations you want to make real. Then take these sticky notes and stick them in places you’ll see them. That way, you’ll get constant reminders of your positive affirmations.
Creating lists can be really helpful, like making a to-do list. Accept this time you’ll be making a list of positive affirmations. In much the same way as journalling, this will also help to cement the positive affirmations into your mind. Just remember to repeat making these lists, otherwise they won’t be affective.
Looking in a mirror
This is the classic one you often see in films, whereby a character will look at themselves in the mirror and then repeated their positive affirmation. This is a movie trope for a reason, because it works. So stand in front of a mirror and repeat your positive affirmations, either in your head or aloud.
Positive affirmations are a favourite of positive psychology and there are plenty of studies that show they work, like Rahayu and Rizki (2020) study. There are many ways you can use positive affirmations, with journalling often being one of the best, as it makes for a great journal prompt. It’s a simple life hack that can help reframe your mind to be more positive.
As much as I’d love to tell you that positive affirmations are guaranteed to change your life, I can’t. Everyones different, for some people affirmations will work really well and will change their life. However, for others, it might not do that much. But that’s the same with pretty much everything in mental health. That’s why there’s so many methods, styles, and techniques out there. However, it is a really simple technique, so what’s the harm in trying it?
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with affirmations in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Koole, S.L., Smeets, K., van Knippenberg, A., & Dijksterhuis, A. (1999). The cessation of rumination through self-affirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(1), 111–125. Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/1999-05981-008.
Rahayu, E. P., & Rizki, L. K. (2020). The Effect of Positive Affirmations to Anxiety level and 2nd stage of labor length. STRADA Jurnal Ilmiah Kesehatan, 9(2), 900-905. Retrieved from http://repository.unusa.ac.id/6441 and http://repository.unusa.ac.id/6441/1/The%20Effect%20of%20Positive%20Affirmations%20to%20Anxiety%20level%20and%202nd%20stage%20of%20labor%20length.pdf.
Rana, M. (2018). Positive Affirmations and its Benefits on Psychological Well-Being. EDU WORLD(9), 2, 5-11. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ashok-Acharya-2/publication/348805443_EDU_WORLD_VOL_IXNO2/links/60111b89299bf1b33e2904f8/EDU-WORLD-VOL-IX-NO2.pdf#page=20.
Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(5), 467-487. Retrieved from http://sonjalyubomirsky.com/wp-content/themes/sonjalyubomirsky/papers/SL2009.pdf.