You’ve undoubtedly heard of positive affirmations at some point, whether you use them already or perhaps not. The simplest definition of positive affirmations is that they are uplifting phrases or statements you say to yourself to help combat any negative, unkind, or unhelpful thoughts. These may not seem like they can actually be helpful or impactful, but they are. They are rooted in science and have benefits backed by psychological research. If you can make a habit out of using them, you can positively impact the way you think and feel about yourself, and develop techniques for combating any of those negative or unkind thoughts when they arise.
The self-affirmation theory was first coined in the late 80s, and it posits that if our self-integrity is threatened in some way, we can essentially protect ourselves by using affirmations. By using affirmations of self-worth, we maintain our confidence and assurance, deflecting any threats of negativity. Think of it as a ship sailing through a storm- there is heavy rain, horrible gusts of wind, and lightning. Yet in spite of this, you are confident that you are equipped with everything you need to make it through. Rather than let it get you down and overwhelm you, you know your capabilities and believe in yourself. Maybe this was a more extreme example but you get the general idea and principle behind it: affirmations can help give us the assurance and confidence to make it through the stormy days. Recent studies on using positive affirmations have shown that they can lower stress, reduce our tendency to ruminate, and cause increased academic achievements in students. By challenging negative thoughts with positive affirmations, we encourage more optimism and less dwelling on the negative events that happen in our lives. They also help broaden our self-concept, or the beliefs we have about ourselves, and increase our resilience.
There are positive affirmations you can use for just about anything! Whether it be reducing stress, increasing motivation, relieving anxiety, building self-esteem, or any other area in your life. If you perhaps want to work on strengthening your self-esteem and confidence try something like: I release negative feelings and thoughts about myself. Or even something simpler like: I believe in who I am. Use either of these, or both, to combat any negative thoughts you have about yourself that might be hampering your self-esteem. To help reduce anxiety, try these: My anxiety does not control my life. I do; I am liberating myself from fear, judgement, and doubt. The great thing about using affirmations is that you can use them anywhere, anytime you need them. You can choose to say them outloud in front of a mirror, write them in a journal, or just repeat them to yourself silently.
The key to implementing affirmations is to use ones that feel right to you. You want them to have meaning and feel powerful, not just be arbitrary sentences you don’t really feel connected to. I personally have an affirmation I like to use when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed with studying, when I feel like I’m not equipped to handle it and am doubting myself. I tell myself; I can accomplish anything I set my mind too. I am so much stronger than I think I am, I am proud of everything I have achieved so far. I persist. I persevere. I will. I have tried other affirmations before, but for me, this quells those negative thoughts and re-energizes me to keep going. Using this has become second nature to me now, and I tend to use it before I feel the stress or negative thoughts coming on to stop them in their tracks. A few examples of other great positive affirmations that I thought were powerful include: I believe in myself as a person and I believe in all my capabilities; I deserve to see myself as amazing; Whatever difficulties come my way, I have the power to overcome them. If you don’t feel any of these resonate with you personally, then scroll about half way through this link https://positivepsychology.com/daily-affirmations/ for more great affirmations, as well as books and various apps you can download with affirmations as well. Follow this link https://youtu.be/SZr5LDFKn8w for a wonderful video with positive affirmations to use in the morning to start your day off with a strong, positive mindset. Try out as many as you need to until you find one that sticks, and use it with intent and purpose. Make them a habit and you will experience what a positive impact they can make in your life.