What is an affirmation?
Before I get into why affirmations are so gosh darn amazing, let’s take a moment to clarify what an affirmation is. You might immediately think of that one SNL sketch with Michael Jordan. Or you might think, “Affirmations? Psh, that’s too woo-woo for me”.
At its heart, though, an affirmation is just a positive statement that you repeat. That’s it. It has no religious ties, it’s rooted in science, and you don’t have to have any experience with mindfulness or meditation to find affirmations useful.
How do affirmations help you?
Affirmations are intended to change your attitudes and feelings through the power of focused repetition. Choose the right words to repeat and surround yourself with, and you’ll be amazed at the effect it’ll have on your life.
A quick psych lesson you didn’t ask for (but will definitely find interesting):
Cognitive dissonance is when your beliefs and attitudes aren’t consistent with your behaviors. For example, you might hold the belief that cutting people off while driving is wrong yet you might do it when you’re late to work. Most people will feel bad about this inconsistency between their belief and their behavior and will either change their attitude (justify their inconsiderate driving by viewing themselves as more important) or change the behavior (stop cutting people off).
The chapter on cognitive dissonance in my AP Psych textbook ended by explaining that even though we can’t always easily change our feelings, we can do it indirectly by changing our behaviors.
For example, we’re feeling nervous for a big presentation, we can stand in a “power pose”, a posture that makes us feel strong and confident. When we’re feeling insecure about ourselves, we can look ourselves in the mirror and practice complimenting ourselves until it actually changes our attitude, or the way we view our appearance.
I was so excited to see that the kinds of mindful practices I like to blog about were actually mentioned in my psychology textbook that I almost wanted to rip that page out and pin it to my bulletin board… but I’d rather not pay a fine for damaging school property.
How to write your own affirmation:
Keep it positive - Don’t use any negative words in your affirmation. Even if your affirmation is “I won’t fail this test”, you’ll essentially be repeating the word “fail” over and over again. You’re pre-programming yourself to flunk. Try rephrasing with positive wording: “I will ace this test”.
Keep it in the present tense - Imagine yourself having already achieved what you want. If you rephrase the previous affirmation, “I will ace this test”, to “I am fully prepared to ace this test”, you’re affirming that you already have what it takes to get the grade you want. It is not a future you’re hoping for, but rather your present reality.
Keep it concise - You want the affirmation to convey your message but if it’s three sentences long and has college textbook-level vocabulary, it won’t pack the punch that a good affirmation should. You should be able to remember it easily.
I’ve created a free affirmation setting worksheet where you can work through a checklist of what makes an effective affirmation so that you get it right the first time.
Find the download at the end of the post!
When can you use mantras?
Some mantras are specific to a certain event, like the “I am fully prepared to ace this test” example I gave above. In that case, you’d repeat it after your study sessions, as you drive to the testing center, and quietly to yourself during the test.
Others are more general, and pertain to how you want to live your life. Here are some ideas for how you can incorporate such affirmations into your life:
Meditation - Repeat the affirmation as you meditate. It’ll help you focus your thoughts and your affirmation will be more effective in that relaxed state.
Morning routine - Incorporate it into your morning routine to start your day with intention. Repeat it upon waking, or as you do your morning stretches.
Journaling - I like to write my monthly affirmation at the end of each morning and evening journal entry. By saying it and writing it, I’m maximizing the affirmation’s potential to change my mindset.
Before bed - Before you drift off to catch some zzz’s, repeat your affirmation. According to Psychology Today, your brain is most open to positive messages when meditating or just before falling asleep, so capitalize on that ultra-relaxed state!
In your home - Write your affirmation on sticky notes (or create a cute printable graphic if you’re extra like that), and stick it where you’ll see it often. On your mirror, on the refrigerator, on your closet door, etc.
While driving - Whether I’m driving to some nerve-racking event, feeling anxious about something that’s on my mind, or just want to steer my day in a more positive direction, I like to turn the radio off and just repeat a few mantras to myself.
Whenever you need to change your mindset - Negative thoughts can attack any time of the day. Whenever you’re lacking motivation, self-confidence, or hope, an affirmation can come in handy.
I created some free lock screen-worthy wallpapers with affirmations on them for you to find inspiration! Find them on my Instagram, @theblissbean, in the Stories highlight titled “SCREENSHOT”.
Marketers are constantly trying to blast us with the same advertising messages over and over again, trying to get us to buy their products, so why not take that technique and use it for your own self-improvement.
You (yes, YOU) have the power to change how you experience your life. Start making that experience a positive one NOW.
If you’re ready to see how positive affirmations can change your life, download the free affirmation setting worksheet!
Share your affirmation with me in the comments! I can’t wait to hear it.