What if you could feel better about yourself and more empowered in your life simply by saying nice things about yourself? That’s the idea behind positive affirmations.
But while positive affirmations can help people feel more confident or able to successfully navigate trying times, they can sometimes have the opposite effect. Read on to learn what positive affirmations are and how they can affect you positively.
Positive affirmations hinge on a psychological theory dubbed “self-affirmation theory.” The theory goes that we maintain our sense of self-worth and identity by telling ourselves positive statements about our abilities or declarations of specific goals. In this context, positive affirmations can serve as an “emotional immune system” that helps us feel good and protects us from sliding down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk in the face of threats to our self-esteem (such as a breakup or a poor performance review at work).
Examples of positive affirmations include:
- I have clarity around my goals and I am actively advancing toward them.
- I am capable at my job and my confidence reflects this.
- I trust my inner wisdom and believe in myself.
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How to Formulate Effective Positive Affirmations
Implement the following guidelines to increase your chances of enjoying positive results.
- Avoid the negativity trap
For example, rather than say something like “I’m a lovable person” (which may backfire if you start thinking of reasons why you’re not lovable), a better approach is to write about the things you value, such as your family or career.
- Relate affirmations to your core values
For instance, affirming “I make a lot of money” won’t make you feel great if wealth isn’t one of your core markers of success. On the flip side, saying “I am a kind and caring person” might have a positive effect if you greatly value compassion.
- Emphasize personal attributes and successes
For instance, if you’ve enjoyed success in your career, you might say something like “I am confident and capable at work.” Or if your family is an important part of your life, you might affirm that “I am a loving and caring family member who builds and maintains strong relationships.”
- Focus on the future
For instance, if you’re just starting a meditation practice, you might affirm “I meditate regularly and feel more calm, balanced, and at ease.” For best results, make sure these future outcomes are actually achievable. Feel free to modify these affirmations as you start to work with them.
Affirmations on their own might not lead to massive change. But when you pair positive affirmations with positive action, you’ll be well on your way to improving your life.
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