Positive Affirmations: What is an Affirmation?
Affirmations refer to carefully drafted statements that resonate personally with yourself and cultivate an attitude of positivity and self-empowerment. The term “Affirmations” has its roots in the Latin word affirmare that translates to strengthen or assert. The practice of affirmation is believed to direct both- your conscious and subconscious minds to continuously work towards your prescribed goal plans. The habit of continuously formulating positive statements for yourself, writing them down regularly or speaking them aloud directly stimulates our conscious minds to incorporate these beliefs in our daily pursuits.
Positive Affirmations: Why do you need them?
This further stimulates our unconscious mind to kick start the mechanics for achieving these goals on the back end. For instance, from personal experience, writing down regularly that I have a PhD directs my conscious mind to keep up-to-date with the latest colleges and professors who offer a program in my interest and my subconscious mind directs me to finish my other commitments before Saturdays so that I have free Sundays to carry out an expansive research for my studies.
Without even my deliberate knowledge, my conscious and unconscious minds have been trained to synchronically and beautifully guide me to achieve my affirmations. When used intentionally and with positive conviction, affirmations can help project our powerful statements into methodical actions. Hence, what happens is a wholesome reduction in negative thought patterns and an increase in self-esteem.
Positive Affirmations: How will they help your life?
I believe in energy- I believe that there is energy behind every single thought, action, movement or feeling we send out to the universe. The universe reciprocates this energy by virtue of its valence- positivity breeds positivity and negativity festers negativity. This also has some connection to the cosmic school of thought Karma- you reap what you say or, in simpler terms, if you do good you receive and good and vice versa.
Whereas Karma places its primary focus on doing or actions, Affirmations place their primary focus on thoughts or belief statements. At some undefined stage, these both fundamentals uniquely collide.
“ If you think positive, you attract positive “
Conceptualized probably as early as in the 1988 by Steele, the self-affirmation theory provides empirical accounts of how affirmations guide positive psychological changes and helps maintain a positive self-image. In situations of impending threat, positive affirmations can re-establish self-competence by permitting people to redirect on sources of self-worth, like core principles. Cascio et al. (2015) conducted a recent study and found that Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation.
Moreover, this neural activity further forecasted alterations in sedentary behavior coherent with successful affirmation in response to a distinct physical activity intervention. The study emphasized upon the neural processes linked with successful self-affirmation, and also indicated that key pathways may be amplified in conjunction with prospection.
Walter E. Jacobson, M.D., once presented a view that there is immense value in affirmations of positive nature, since our subconscious mind is one of the main driving forces in the actualization of our lives and the manifestation of our desires. The beliefs we hold about ourselves at a subconscious level, he says, can have a significant impact on the outcome of events.
A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon also conducted a study which strongly indicated that self-affirmations significantly reduce stress and improve problem-solving abilities in under performing and chronically stressed individuals (Creswell et al., 2013).
Another relevant study in this field also postulated that when we rigorously indulge in practicing positive affirmations, we are able to alter our perception to otherwise threatening events and conceive them as more self-relevant and valuable (Falk et. al., 2015).
Affirmations go a long way in reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-responsibility for your actions, having directed goals and also in reducing negative thought patterns. A ground-breaking study also found that positive affirmations help in controlling our tendency to linger on negative events (Wiesenfeld et al., 2001).
In order to meticulously guide you towards the practicing affirmations, I have reiterated the most common five-step plan (see: Richard J. D’Souza) below:
Positive Affirmations: Steps to take
Step One: Write your negative thoughts
Write down the negative thoughts that come to you when you think about yourself, your personal situations and relationships like family, colleagues, life partners, and about the coping strategies you use to battle with the adversaries of life.
Your list entirely your own and consists of personal experiences that you have held. It can be a belief that has been reinforced into your psyche since a young age- you will never be attractive because of your weight; you will be worthless until you are rich.. Your negative thought patterns will be completely independent of their accuracy ratings, it will just entail how you feel about them and then map out the common areas of problem like- low self-esteem, high social anxiety etc.
Focus on your body as you release energy onto these negative thoughts- does your body tense up? Do you feel a pit in your stomach or do you have lines on your forehead?
Re-evaluate this in Step 4.
Step Two: Rephrase the negative thoughts as positive affirmations
In this stage, we focus on categorizing our negative thoughts into positive affirmations. For
instance, from the negative thought patterns discussed in Step One, we could develop the following positive affirmations:
My self-esteem is high and is independent of my weight.
I am successful and my financial status does not determine my success.
My social interactions are filled with quality and value and my weight has no impact upon it.
I feel empowered when I free myself from the societal constructs of beauty and wealth.
While formulating these positive affirmations, pick keywords that resonate with yourself and speak the most to you- statements and words that make you happier and increase feel-good emotions in your bodies.
Step Three: Practice the affirmations regularly
Writing or Verbally reinforcing your positive affirmations guide you in internalising them. The affirmations should ideally be practiced daily with a strong sense of conviction, sending out such a strong positive energy or vibrations into the world that the universe has to reciprocate it with more positivity only. You can practice your affirmations even while doing routine activities like taking a shower, driving to your workplace, getting ready for a big meeting or examination, imbibing feelings of positivity prior to starting any activity will put you in an optimistic mood and will help you cope with potential threats or opportunities with a bright attitude. Develop the habit of practicing affirmations continuously and rigorously to integrate your goals into action-plans.
Step Four: Anchor your Body with your Thoughts
Go back to Step One. Remember feelings of discomfort upon recollecting negative patterns of thought? Direct your attention to these physical areas of discomfort either by channelizing all your attention to that area or by placing your hand on that area. Now while practicing your positive affirmations, take slow but long mindful breaths. Inhale the positivity into your body, and with each exhale release the physical tension from the area of discomfort in your body.
Step Five: Externalize your affirmations
Listening to your own voice in a recording or having somebody else inculcate these positive affirmations into your psyches go a long way in cultivating a positive and healthy lifestyle.
For a list of positive affirmations to incorporate into your daily lifestyle or to seek inspiration from, you can refer to: Top 50 Affirmations
To conclude, affirmations truly guide you in shifting your unconscious and conscious focus into achieving the goals you prescribed for yourself. If you keep reinstating to yourself that you are a confident person, you will instinctively indulge in activities that bolster your confidence levels. Affirmations have not only helped me in formulating an action plan for my studies, my research and my career goals but has also brought me one step closer to achieving my long-term dreams as well.
Simply telling myself that I can achieve my long-term goals and manifesting it internally has somehow made it possible for me to a work a full-time job efficiently and also start a practice which promotes mental wellness in people. Earlier when I could barely deal with the adversaries of my day job, today my mind and body have integrated my affirmations so beautifully that it has been made possible to achieve more than I ever thought was possible.