I remember a few years ago when I thought that affirmations were completely woo-woo and definitely not for me. Just the thought of saying them made me feel awkward and my British sense of appropriateness told me that they were way too “out there” for me.
Telling yourself how awesome you are can seem bonkers, but I promised you that the reason why they work is genuine and there’s a fair amount of neuroscience behind this practice.
What are Positive Affirmations?
Positive affirmations are positive phrases or statements used to turn down your Shit FM (the radio station in your head that tells you negative or unhelpful th0ughts all day).
Practicing positive affirmations can be extremely simple, and all you need to do is pick a phrase and repeat it to yourself – preferably in the morning and even more effectively if you can look at yourself if the mirror as you are saying them.
You may choose to use positive affirmations to empower yourself, motivate yourself, encourage positive changes in your life, or boost your self esteem. If you frequently Shit FM blaring loudly, positive affirmations can be used to combat these often subconscious patterns and replace them with more adaptive narratives.
What’s the Science?
Positive affirmations require regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel. The good news is that the practice and popularity of positive affirmations are based on widely accepted and well-established psychological theory.
One of the key psychological theories behind positive affirmations is self-affirmationtheory (Steele, 1988). So, yes, there are empirical studies based on the idea that we can maintain our sense of self-integrity by telling ourselves (or affirming) what we believe in positive ways.
Very briefly, self-integrity relates to our global self-efficacy —our perceived ability to control moral outcomes and respond flexibly when our self-concept is threatened (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). So, we as humans are motivated to protect ourselves from these threats by maintaining our self-integrity.
Benefits of Daily Affirmations
Now that we know more about the theories supporting positive affirmations, here are six examples of evidence from empirical studies that suggest that positive self-affirmation practices can be beneficial:
- Self-affirmations have been shown to decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015);
- Self-affirmations have been used effectively in interventions that led people to increase their physical behaviour (Cooke et al., 2014);
- They may help us to perceive otherwise “threatening” messages with less resistance, including interventions (Logel & Cohen, 2012);
- They can make us less likely to dismiss harmful health messages, responding instead with the intention to change for the better (Harris et al., 2007) and to eat more fruit and vegetables (Epton & Harris, 2008);
- They have been linked positively to academic achievement by mitigating GPA decline in students who feel left out at college (Layous et al., 2017);
- Self-affirmation has been demonstrated to lower stress and rumination (Koole et al., 1999; Weisenfeld et al., 2001).
How Do You “Do” Affirmations?
Say them out loud and preferably looking at yourself in the mirror. I like to say them in the morning as I feel like that sets up my day in the right way and sets my intentions.
In my Feed Your Fairy Membership group we practice affirmations daily as it really helps to process them by saying them out loud and also by telling others about them.
However you do them, repeat them often. Write them down, say them out loud and repeat.
Here is some tips from me for writing your affirmations:
My favourite affirmations
- I can and I will
- I am more than enough
- I am following my dreams
- I am in charge of how I feel today and I am choosing happiness
- I am choosing and not waiting to be chosen
- I am strong and powerful
- I am whole
- I’ve got this
- I have the power to create change
- I bless and release everything that doesn’t serve me
- I can do anything and everything I choose
- I deserve the best in life
- I am going to make you so proud (note to self)
- I am unstoppable
- I feed my fairy
- I am my priority
If you would like a daily prompt for affirmations, have a look at my fab pencil range that is a lovely little box of inspiration. Click HERE or on the image below to take a peak.