For decades, self help gurus have been telling us to use affirmations to influence the subconscious mind. However, numerous critics have dismissed affirmations, calling them “pseudoscience”. That is until now. Because finally, we have the scientific research that proves that affirmations work.
In this guide you’ll learn the science behind affirmations, and how to use affirmations to change your life.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are basically simple lines that we use to instill positive thoughts. For instance, one very simple affirmation is “I am happy”.
By reciting these affirmations, we train our minds to think in positive ways. And positive thoughts lead to positive actions, which in turn lead to success, whether that’s success in losing weight, success at work, or any other form of success that you might be seeking.
Many therapists combine affirmations with mindfulness exercises, although, for the traditional meditator I will mention that affirmations are not a traditional form of meditation. Unlike mantras, which have been used for thousands of years, affirmations are relatively new.
And so, affirmations are phrases used to create positive thoughts and positive actions.
How Affirmations Work According To Science
Affirmations can help us to build positive views of ourselves and our place in the world, according to research published in the journal Social Cognitive And Affective Neuroscience.
Authors Christopher N Cascio et al. state that, “self-affirmations can restore self-competence by allowing individuals
to reflect on sources of self-worth, such as core values.” As such, when our self self worth falters, we can restore it with affirmations.
But it goes further than this. Indeed, research shows that affirmations increase activity in key regions of the brain’s self-processing systems (medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex) and valuation (ventral striatumþ ventral medial prefrontal
So not only do affirmations create positive thoughts and attitudes, they also literally change our brains.
Perhaps most importantly, the research shows that by creating positive thoughts affirmations help us to improve our behavior, which in turn makes us more likely to succeed in our endeavors.
How Affirmations Work:
- Reciting affirmations produces positive thoughts
- Positive thoughts lead to positive self identity
- Positive self identity leads to positive actions
- Positive action increases the likelihood of success.
How To Use Affirmations To Change Your Life
1:First, make sure your mind is calm and clear
The quality of your mind can affect the affirmation. If your mind is full of negativity to begin with, that negativity will prevent the affirmation from working.
Kriya yoga guru Paramahansa Yogananda wrote:
If you affirm “I am well,” but think in the background of your mind that it is not true, the effect is the same as if you took a helpful medicine and at the same time swallowed a drug that counteracted the effects of that medicine.
Clear your mind before you start reciting the affirmation.
2: Use affirmations for self worth and positive self identity
Here are some of the best affirmations for self worth and self identity:
- “I am a good person”
- “I am loved”
- “I live a good life”
- “I make the most of each day”
- “I am a confident person”
- “I am calm”
- “I am happy to be me”
- “I am… [fill in the blank]
3: Use affirmations for Mental Health
Some of the best affirmations for mental health are:
- “I accept both my strengths and weaknesses”
- “I am calm and centred”
- “I feel well in body and mind”
- “I am grateful for [list things to be grateful for]
- “I forgive myself for my mistakes”
- “I am kind and loving to myself”
4: Use affirmations to change your perspective on life
As well as focusing on your self, you can use affirmations to change your perspective on life and on the world. For instance:
- “The world is full of love”
- “The world is a fair place”
- “Life is good”
- “I am grateful to live the life I live”
- “I am surrounded by kind people”
Feel free to create your own affirmations. Simply decide what types of thoughts would be most beneficial for you, and create affirmations accordingly. See the previous link to learn how to create affirmations.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison