Top tips for Affirmations and why they work

We should never underestimate the power of belief, both positive and negative.  Affirmations are an effective way of reprogramming our conscious and unconscious mind from unhelpful thought patterns to positive beliefs about ourselves.

80% of our thoughts are negative, it’s a way in which our amazing brains look for danger to keep us safe.  We can however strengthen the positive neural pathways we have and decrease the reliance on the negative ones by the use of affirmations, leading to a happier, healthier life. 

What are Affirmations?

Affirmations are short, positive statements used to kickstart positive changes and emotions.  Over time, we start to change the way we think, which then changes the way we act and behave. This then creates the reality we want.  It’s really a self-fulling prophecy and works on the same principles as manifesting as seen in the book Law of attraction.

Let’s take for example if you create an affirmation “I am beautiful”. As you start believing you might start holding yourself more confidently, choosing different clothes, oozing confidence, start speaking to new people, setting healthy boundaries and understanding your worth which all makes you feel more beautiful. Imagine how that also makes us feel and the spiral it creates?

Our brain also likes to be proved right.  If you believe that “I’m going to have a great day”, your brain will look for signals all day to prove you are having a great day.  However, this also works in reverse so it’s important to look for positive things that our brain can reinforce.

Once we understand this, we can also see how it can work for other areas of our life for example, if you go to bed thinking ‘I am never going to sleep’, no you probably won’t.  If, however you say to yourself, ‘I can’t wait to get a full night’s sleep and wake up with lots of energy’ – boom!

I have seen this in my coaching where someone hated networking as he thought no one would speak with him.  After the first session, he explained how everyone seemed to ignore him.  As we started to go into the detail, he actually had 5 really great conversations.  His mindset was full of dread walking into that room and his brain looking for that one signal to reinforce his belief ‘see, told you no one would talk to you’.  If he had gone in saying ‘I can’t wait to meet new and interesting people’, his brain would have been looking for those cues and he would have recognised the successes he actually had.

But the trick is to believe in ourselves and affirmations are a really great way to help us in these situations.

Where to start?

You may have a firm idea of what you want to change or where you want to be.  If not, listen to your inner critic (sometimes referred to as your chatterbox) to understand those negative or limiting beliefs that are holding you back.  What unhelpful thinking habits do you hear?  What situations do you feel most uncomfortable?  For example, you may have been rejected and have a fake reality that you are not worthy?  You could have been told you were stupid at school and are holding onto that?  What do you need to start turning around?  What person do you want to be?

Once you know what you want to change you can create your affirmation.  Follow my five ‘P’s – your affirmations should be:

  1. Positive – They have to create a positive emotion. Remember you are moving towards what you want to believe not away from something. e.g. “I am calm” (not “I am not nervous”).
  2. Personal – They have to start ‘I’ and be personal to you so they are relatable.  Remember you are convincing your brain so it has to be something you can connect with and believable to you.
  3. Present – They have to be in the present moment.  “I will” assumes you will do it later, it must but “I am”.
  4. On Point – They must be simple and repeatable to create a positive thinking habit.
  5. Powerful words – Make sure your statements are powerful with strong language.

Now you have your affirmation, what do you do with it?

Affirmations take discipline and can feel challenging and uncomfortable at first however they build a strong sense of self-belief and really can change the way you think.

1 Write it down

  • By writing them down you can create powerful reinforcement and even better if you can have them on post-its around you.  It’s also a good reference so you are consistent.

2 Visualise

  •  If you have ever felt or acted in a way of your affirmation, think of that time.  What did it feel like?  What happened?  What was great about how that felt.  If you don’t and its all new it doesn’t matter.
  • The important step next is to visualise yourself in this state now when your affirmation is real. How will it feel?  How you will act? How others will see you?  Take it in so your mind has a picture of what life will look like.

3 Say it out loud

  • Repeat your affirmation at least 3 times a day for 5 minutes.  It’s better if you can say out loud but if not, say it in your head.   
  • One of those times should be before you sleep as your brain will continue to process your thoughts.
  • Consider setting an alarm for your affirmations to keep you on track.
  • Another tip that works for some, is if you can ask a friend to say your affirmation as if they were telling it to you.  We can sometimes believe what other people tell us more than ourselves?  If not, even stand in the mirror, repeating it as if someone else is telling you this?  This all reinforces the belief.

Affirmations take discipline and can feel challenging and uncomfortable at first however they build a strong sense of self-belief and really can change the way you think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

101 Ways to build mental strength

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive a copy of 101 ways to build mental strength. In addition, you will receive weekly hints and tips on resilience building and mental toughness.  You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information view our privacy policy.