Maintaining a positive outlook can be difficult at times. When the world seems to be falling apart and we can’t help but blame ourselves in some way, shape, or form, it feels impossible to focus on our accomplishments. But what we’ve come to find out is that reminding ourselves of our successes can help us to maintain resilience in the face of threat and adversity.
So how do you do that exactly? Self-affirmations.
Perhaps you’ve already been practicing self-affirmations, but you don’t know the theories behind them. Or perhaps you’ve had a good chuckle at some movie/tv character intensely reciting clichéd mantras into the mirror. Well, our goal with this blog is to help you understand why self-affirmations can make a difference and how to properly practice them to reap the benefits.
What are self-affirmations?
First off, what are they? Self-affirmations are statements that will reinforce your self-worth when repeated over time. They are positive phrases that focus on your strengths, core values, achievements, and goals. The end aim is to have repeated and visualized the statements to the point at which your brain is rewired, replacing the negative thoughts and validating your sense of self, so you are able to face threats to your self-integrity with confidence and conviction.
What are the benefits?
The effects of self-affirmations have been studied and found to have many benefits when implemented properly and sustained over time. Affirmations can minimize anxiety and stress, thus improving health, both mental and physical, and relationships. There are noted advancements in work and academic performance. They can help to motivate you, increase your self-esteem, and encourage a level of self-assurance that allows you to be receptive to mistakes, learn from them, and reduce negative self-talk and detrimental reactions to perceived threats.
Why do self-affirmations work the way they do?
There are two main schools of thought on why self-affirmations work. The first has to do with convincing your brain to change, and the second involves what the National Library of Medicine describes as “weakening the implications of a threat for personal integrity” by reminding your brain of your core beliefs, accomplishments, and gifts. In our opinion, both of these ideas make a lot of sense.
Neuroplasticity is, as Healthline explains, “your brain’s ability to restructure or rewire itself when it recognizes the need for adaptation.” Basically, our brains can be “rewired” or “reprogrammed” at any point throughout our lives. And the brain can’t really tell if what it’s being told is true or not. Therefore, “Regular repetition of affirming statements about yourself can encourage your brain to take these positive affirmations as fact.” By asserting to your brain that you are doing your best, that you are in control of your own life, or that all your goals are attainable, etc., it becomes true for you. And when you find yourself to be capable and deserving, you achieve bigger and better things.
The next thought explaining the success of self-affirmations is that when we take some time to affirm our core values and acknowledge our strengths and accomplishments, we are less defensive when presented with a threat to our “overall sense of self-integrity.” In fact, “affirmation purportedly adds a sense of self-worth, thereby restoring integrity to the self,” Clayton R. Critcher and David Dunning deduce in their research article for the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. There is a lot of strong, empirical research on this topic, but in layman’s terms, when we remind ourselves of our assets, achievements, and the values we are committed to, we have a stronger sense of who we are and that we are not made up of only one aspect of ourselves. Then, when something comes up that would challenge our sense of self-worth, we are able to put it into perspective as an event to learn from rather than to judge ourselves upon. We are utilizing positive affirmations to make our brains and thoughts healthier!
How do I practice self-affirmations?
It is important to practice self-affirmations correctly and often to feel the benefits.
How often should you practice?
Three times a day for 3–5 minutes each time.
When should you practice?
Morning (when you wake up), Midday (when you need to recharge), and Bedtime (to sleep well and set the tone for the next day).
What should you do?
- Speak your affirmations aloud, look at yourself in the mirror as you speak. Healthline advises to, “Repeat each affirmation about 10 times. Listen to yourself saying it, focusing on the words as they leave your mouth. As you say them, believe them to be true.”
- Write them down in your journal or on notecards, and post them by your bed, and on your bulletin board or bathroom mirror.
- Think them and meditate on them.
- Set timers/alarms to remind you to practice.
- Be consistent and committed.
The key is to have the statements introduced to your brain often and in many different forms.
What exactly should you say?
- What you say will be most beneficial if it is extremely personal, rooted in your individual reality and based on your core beliefs.
- Even if you find inspiration for your affirmations in a book or online, put them in your own words so they suit your needs, your goals, your traits, your cadence, etc.
- Always put your phrases in present tense.
- They need to be positive, and if battling negative thoughts, have them counter those specifically.
- Focus on your strengths and accomplishments.
- Keep your head in the clouds but your feet on the ground. It is easier to reprogram your brain when it believes your statements are possible. Use your strengths and your beliefs to anchor your affirmations.
Need some help to start?
Your affirmations are always going to mean more if you write them down in your own words, but there is nothing wrong with seeking inspiration elsewhere. Read books, watch videos, search the internet, or discuss with your therapist. It doesn’t matter where you find them, only your commitment to the practice.
Here is a list of affirmations that was partially inspired by a LifeHack blog and tailored.
1. I love myself for everything that I am.
2. I am doing my best every day.
3. Great things are yet to come.
4. I am grateful every day.
5. I am in control of my life.
6. All of my goals are attainable.
7. I am in charge of my happiness.
8. This moment in time does not define who I am.
9. I will always keep going.
And Berkeley Wellbeing has a wonderful blog full of affirmations to start with and individualize.
Will this work?
Yes, this will work, but it is a process. Help is coming, but you’ll need to commit to making self-affirmation part of your routine for the long haul. Don’t worry, it might be uncomfortable at first and take a great deal of effort, but eventually, if you continue to practice and develop those neural pathways, the self-affirmations will begin to come instinctively. It will become your nature, your program, to boost yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. You’ll feel confident and unfazed by threats to your self-identity because you’ll know they are only learning opportunities. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
In addition to your practice of self-affirmations, consider talking with a therapist. Find out where your negative thoughts originated. Identify the roots of those harmful patterns and be done with them! Self-affirmations are not a cure, they are a tool. Use them consistently and with care and you will find yourself empowered and unstoppable!
We want to help
Feeling good about yourself comes as a result of a combination of factors. At Brich Aesthetics, we can help you get the body you’ve always wanted, but what about how you feel inside? What about the way that you talk to yourself? We want you to love you, through and through. So, we decided to share the power and potential of self-affirmations with you. We hope it helps. Let us know what else we can do to support you in living your best life!