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wellness / mental health

How Do Positive Affirmations Work?

by BetterSleep
Aug 29 2022 • 10 min read

Negative thoughts can be destructive and keep you from achieving your goals. These thoughts cause you to doubt yourself, question your abilities and second-guess your decisions.

Positive affirmations are the key to banishing negative thoughts for good!

People often use positive affirmations to change their thinking patterns and achieve their goals. By practicing positive affirmations, they can train their minds to focus on the good and eventually see positive results in their daily life.

What are Positive Affirmations, and Why are They Important?

Affirmations are positive self-statements intended to help individuals learn to see the positive side of life. These are encouraging thoughts you intentionally come up with to support yourself emotionally and mentally. Creating positive affirmations can help you to feel calmer and more confident.

In addition, these repeated daily affirmations challenge unhelpful thoughts and encourage positive changes in your life. From motivation to reverting low self-esteem, finding joy in the little things, or removing negative beliefs, positive affirmations can help change thought patterns.

You will need to use positive phrases and recite them when you wake up, throughout the day, and before bedtime. You can also change your affirmations to match your circumstances or master new positive thinking skills.

The Science Behind Why Affirmations Work?

The science behind positive affirmations suggests that positive phrases may increase focus on sources of positive value to individuals.

As a result, self-affirmation directs a person to focus on sources of positive value. Doing so engages the brain systems and neural mechanisms associated with reward and positive valuation.

A recent functional MRI shows positive self-affirmation increases activities in the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex.

These two brain regions are responsible for regulating numerous cognitive functions, such as attention, habit formation, memory, and inhibitory control. A recent fMRI result of participants who practiced self-affirmations showed increased brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex.

Further, researchers believe that positive self-self-affirmation activates the brain to see and believe positive thoughts as though they were a reality. With the help of functional MRI, the researchers examined the ventral striatum and ventral medial prefrontal cortex, the brain regions most prominently involved in reward and positive valuation.

The result showed increased activity in both regions after the participants practiced affirmations.

Self-affirmation alters the brain systems, making it a powerful self-help strategy. Below are research-based evidence confirming the positive effect of affirmations on mental and physical health:

  • Participants who wrote self-affirmations for four weeks had significantly lower levels of stress than those who did not write self-affirmations.
  • Another study found that just three minutes of self-affirmation helped reduce stress levels and improve performance on a stressful task. Researchers also believe that self-affirmation reduces stress’s negative impacts on health and well-being.
  • Self-affirmation may also help us to be more resilient in the face of stress. Researchers found that people who regularly use self-affirmations are better able to withstand stressful situations.

How do Positive Affirmations work?

Self-affirmation is a psychological technique that requires thinking or writing about one’s core values. It enhances other interventions across multiple domains, such as motivating people with sedentary lifestyles to increase their physical activities.

A study on the effect of affirming core values on sedentary individuals shows that positive affirmations can increase resistance against threatening messages while improving intervention effectiveness. The functional MRI reveals that self-affirmation alters the neural responses to health messages. The process triggers subsequent behavior changes, which indicates that self-affirmation increases receptivity to positive messages.

Positive Affirmations and the Brain

Evidenced-based research reveals that affirmations alter specific neural pathways and activate the brain linked to self-related processing. This self-related processing can positively impact the person when reinforced with future orientation or the individual’s prospect for a future reward.

Further, researchers believe that the power of affirmations is founded on the premise that the mind cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. Therefore, when you affirm a concept, your mind will believe it since the affirmations can reprogram your mind into believing whatever you tell it.

Benefits of Affirmations

When you repeat positive statements about yourself, you are programming your mind to believe them. Below are some of the benefits of positive affirmations:

Help Increase Your Self-esteem

Self-love is key to happiness, and you can cultivate it through positive affirmations. You can program your subconscious to believe the positive statements your repeat about yourself. Moreover, practicing affirmations immerses you in positive energy that can help you deal with difficult situations and emotions more positively.

Make you Feel Better About Yourself Even After Experiencing Setbacks

We quickly get down on ourselves when things don’t go our way. We may think we’re not good enough until negative thinking gets the best. Unfortunately, negative thought patterns such as these can be damaging and may cause us to develop low self-esteem.

One way to combat negative feelings is through positive affirmations. These statements can boost our confidence, remind us of our worth, and condition our minds to be in a positive state. They can be helpful in any situation, but they can be beneficial when we’re struggling or feeling down.

Help Nurture Self-compassion and See Yourself in a Positive Light

Self-compassion is about being kind and understanding of ourselves. It is about striving to be our best selves and yet be forgiving of ourselves when we fall short.

Repeating phrases such as “I’m doing the best I can” or “I’m worthy of love and respect” helps us to connect with our innermost self-compassionate feelings. It can also remind us that we are not alone in this journey – we all make mistakes sometimes.

When we’re feeling down, positive self-affirmation can help to pick us up and give us the strength to keep going.

They remind us that we are valuable and worthy of love, no matter what happens. So try integrating a few positive affirmations into your daily routine – they may help you find more compassion for yourself.

Boost Confidence

Self-confidence is key to success in any field. With high self-esteem, you believe in yourself and your abilities. This belief allows you to take risks and work harder to achieve your goals.

Positive affirmations help to build confidence by reinforcing positive thoughts about yourself. If you tell yourself that you are intelligent, hardworking, and talented, you will start to believe it.

Repeating positive affirmations can be a challenging task at first, but with time and practice, it will become easier.

The more you believe the affirmation, the more likely you will achieve your goals. Positive affirmations can change your perspectives for the better and help you reach your full potential.

Improve Physical and Mental Health

People who repeat positive declarations about themselves are likely to be healthier mentally and physically. A study found that students who engage with positive affirmations have lower stress levels, increased motivation, and improved chances of achieving success academically.

Additionally, affirmations have been shown to improve overall physical health by increasing the amount of exercise people do and promoting healthier eating habits. Through positive affirmations, individuals can create a more positive self-image and achieve better physical and mental health outcomes.

How to Write Affirmation Statements

Affirmation statements are positive affirmations that can help you to overcome negative thoughts and self-doubt. Repeating an affirmation statement out loud or even just in your head can help you change your mindset and achieve your goals.

There are a few things to keep in mind when writing an affirmation statement:

  1. Consider the areas of your life that you would like to change. For example, do you want to be more patient? Or have deeper relationships with friends and colleagues? Or have a more productive workday?

  2. Thinking about the areas of our lives that we’d like to change can help us know what we need to work on. Whether developing more patience or improving our relationships, positive affirmations can help us make the desired changes.

  3. Make sure that your affirmation is credible and achievable. Base it on a realistic assessment of the facts. For example, if you’re unhappy with your current salary, you could use affirmations to raise your confidence to ask for a raise. However, it probably wouldn’t be wise to affirm that you’re going to double your salary – for most people and organizations, this isn’t realistic. Keep it achievable so you can believe in the affirmation and see it impacting your life.

  4. Transform negative thoughts into positive ones. If you struggle with negative self-talk, list the persistent thoughts or beliefs that are bothersome. Then, choose an affirmation opposite to that belief.

    For example, if you tend to think, “I’m not talented enough to progress in my career,” turn this around and write positive affirmations such as, “I am a skilled and experienced professional.” By changing our perspective and reframing our thoughts, we can change our entire outlook– affirmations can help us do just that.

  5. When writing affirmations, it’s essential to keep them short, sweet, and specific. This way, they’ll be more impactful and easier to remember.

  6. Additionally, try to make them present tense so you can picture yourself achieving your goal. For example, rather than affirming “I will get a raise,” say “I am getting a raise.” By phrasing it in the present tense, you’ll be better able to visualize – and therefore believe – that it’s happening.

    Writing your affirmation in the present tense helps you to believe that the statement is true right now. For example, if you’re feeling nervous about speaking in front of a group, you can tell yourself, “I am well-prepared and well-rehearsed, and I can give a great presentation.” By speaking and writing your affirmation as if it’s already happening, you’re more likely to believe it and make it come true.

  7. In addition to keeping your affirmations concise and specific, another way to ensure they’re effective is to write them down and post them somewhere you’ll see them often. Regularly seeing them will help to keep your goals top of mind and remind you to stay positive and focused.

  8. When you put feeling into your affirmations, they become more effective. If you want to see a change in yourself, choose affirmations that are meaningful to you. For example, if you’re worried about a new project at work, tell yourself, “I am confident I can handle this challenge.” By doing so, you’ll start to believe it and take on the task with a better attitude.

  9. It’s important to remember that positive affirmations won’t work unless you genuinely believe them. So make sure to choose ones that resonate with you on an emotional level. Doing so will increase the chances of seeing the changes you desire.

What is a positive affirmation statement?

A positive affirmation statement is a brief phrase repeated frequently to encourage positive thoughts, happy feelings, and good attitudes. In other words, it is a positive statement that helps to counter any negative, self-defeating, or unhelpful thoughts someone may have. Positive affirmations can be incredibly helpful in helping people to change their thinking patterns and improve their overall outlook.

What are examples of positive affirmations?

It may seem small, but speaking kindly to yourself can make a big difference in how you feel and live your life. You increase your self-esteem and confidence when you say positive things about yourself.

Here are some affirmation examples you can use in your own life:

1. I am confident and capable.

2. I am worthy of love and respect.

3. I am valuable and deserving of good things.

4. I can overcome any challenge that comes my way.

5. I am a powerful and successful individual.

6. I have everything I need to achieve my goals.

7. I am happy and fulfilled in all areas of my life.

8. I attract wealth, abundance, and prosperity into my life.

9. I live each day with joy, excitement, and enthusiasm.

Gratitude Affirmations Work FAQs

Why are positive affirmations meaningful?

When you repeat positive affirmations to yourself, you are telling your subconscious mind that you want to believe these things about yourself. Repeating these affirmations will help to reprogram your subconscious mind and replace negative or self-defeating thoughts with positive and empowering thoughts. Positive affirmations can help change your mood and behavior and even help you achieve your goals.

You cannot underestimate the power of positive affirmations. You are setting yourself up for success when you commit to change for the better by using positive affirmations. By affirming positive truths about yourself, you can slowly but surely change the course of your life for the better. With time and practice, you can replace your negative thoughts with positive ones so that you can live your life according to your terms.

What is the self-affirmation theory?

Self-affirmation theory asserts that the overall goal of the self-system is to protect an image of its self-integrity. When this image of self-integrity is threatened, people respond to restore self-worth.

Studies show that people who engage with positive affirmations are more likely to persevere in challenging tasks and less likely to give up in the face of failure. One possible explanation for these effects is that self-affirmation allows people to look at their strengths, which helps them maintain a positive view of themselves even when they encounter setbacks.

Does self-affirmation work?

Self-affirmation theory is a relatively new and growing area of research, so it is difficult to say whether or not it works. However, the theory is based on a large body of research that suggests that self-affirmation is an effective way to protect self-worth. When people’s image of themselves is threatened, they tend to respond by reaffirming their values and beliefs. This reaffirmation helps to restore self-integrity and ultimately leads to better psychological health.

Moreover, while there is still more research in this area, the current evidence suggests that self-affirmation works to protect self-worth. When people feel good about themselves, they are more likely to be happy and successful. Therefore, anything that can help people to feel good about themselves should be considered a valuable tool.

Is positive affirmation the same as positive thinking?

Positive affirmation and positive thinking are not the same but related. Positive affirmations are statements that affirm something about yourself, while positive thinking is more of a mindset where you appreciate the good in any given situation.

Both techniques can help increase self-confidence and self-esteem, but they work differently. Positive affirmations enable you to build a positive view of yourself, while positive thinking allows you to see the good in any situation, no matter how bad it may seem.

Wrap Up

Self-affirmation is repeating positive statements about oneself to change negative or self-defeating thoughts. When you commit to change for the better by using positive affirmations, you tell your subconscious mind that you want to believe these things about yourself. This helps to reprogram your subconscious mind and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Over time, this can lead to significant changes in your behavior and even help you achieve your goals.

By affirming positive truths about yourself, you can slowly but surely change the course of your life for the better. If you’re looking for a way to boost your self-confidence and increase your happiness, give self-affirmation a try!

For more information on self-affirmation and how it can benefit your life, check out the article, Gratitude Meditation for Sleep.

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