There is a long-standing debate in the self-improvement world on the validity of affirmations. Are they effective? Or are they just some form of woo-woo pseudo-science? Some people swear by them, while others write them off as whimsical nonsense. In this article, we’ll debunk this debate by seeing what Science has to say. Keep reading to learn more.
What Are Affirmations?
In their simplest form, affirmations are positive statements someone repeatedly makes to themself to eventually influence their thoughts, beliefs, self-image, and actions. They are a means of overcoming self-sabotaging behavior and a negative self-image. Moreover, they can help increase confidence and improve one’s mood. Other benefits of affirmations may include:
- Improve academic or athletic performance
- More motivation
- Higher self-esteem
- New and empowering belief systems
- Helps with goal achievement
- Rewiring thought patterns
- May accelerate healing
What Does Science Say About Affirmations?
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience is a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Using an MRI, they published a study revealing that practicing affirmations triggers your brain’s reward centers. Simply affirming to yourself, “I will start a successful business,” or “I will lose 20 lbs,” or any other goal or objective you have in mind lights up the same reward circuitry that responds when you actually experience pleasurable moments. Your neural pathways begin firing on all cylinders, making you happy and positive.
So the Science is clear: You can “trick” your brain into believing you’ve already achieved your goal by affirming that you will. Moreover, you can make this same “deceit” in other realms of endeavor.
For example, by affirming certain qualities, skill sets, or attitude changes you want to adopt, you can make yourself believe that you are the type of person who possesses such qualities. Then, it’s just a matter of continuously applying the affirmations you repeat to yourself.
But at this point, you may wonder…
How You Can Use Affirmations to Improve Your Life
So, now that the plausibility of affirmations is valid, how do you actually use them to begin seeing favorable results in your life? There are a few simple steps you can take, and they are as follows:
1. Draft Your Affirmations
Write down all the qualities you want to adopt as your own. Make the list as long or as short as you’d like. Whatever it is you want to believe about yourself, put it on paper; here are a few examples to help get you started.
- I am wealthy
- I am strong
- I am confident
- I am a winner
- I am a champion
- I am disciplined
- I am focused
- I am healthy and fit
- I am wise and intelligent
- I have amazing friends and a loving family
- I believe in myself and my capabilities, etc.
There are no boundaries; remember, this is your list. You can put whatever it is that you desire on it. So come up with a few of your own or swipe some of the suggestions above if they resonate with you.
2. Start a Daily Practice
Remember, consistency is key in all things. Once you’ve scripted your affirmations with the qualities you want to adopt, you now need to repeat them, day in and day out consistently. Think of it as a form of “brainwashing.” Through repetition, your affirmations gain their power and, as a result, begin influencing your thought patterns.
You’ll want to repeat them until they become second nature. The best times for your affirmation practice are in the morning, right after you wake up, and in the evening, just before you go to sleep. However, you’ll also want to repeat them as often as possible throughout your day.
Another trick to help with this is recording your affirmations using the Recorder on your smartphone.
This tactic allows you to listen to your affirmations while repeating them to yourself. The simultaneous process of listening and speaking helps to drill them deeper into your subconscious, helping to influence your thoughts faster than just repeating them alone.
3. Emotionalize Your Words
In his landmark best-seller Think & Grow Rich (over 70 million copies sold), author Napoleon Hill explains the importance of getting emotionally involved as you reread your goals. What does this mean in practical terms? It means feeling like your desired qualities are already part of your reality.
Few things are more powerful than human emotion.
Emotions have driven humanity to do the most incredible things, such as creating remarkable inventions, producing innovative solutions to pressing problems and constructing modern-day civilization. And guess what? When mixed with emotion, your affirmations can help you achieve amazing feats as well.
So as you speak your affirmations, try to feel as if you’re already that character trait you’re attempting to bring into your life. What would it feel like to experience and eventually become it? Get familiar with that feeling; become closely and intimately associated with it; hold onto it for as long as possible as you speak your affirmations.
4. Build Habits That Align With Your Affirmations
To believe you truly are what you say, you must procure evidence. You need to see real-life proof that you are the person you claim to be before you genuinely believe it. And how do you get this “proof?” Simple, you accumulate experiences of you acting in alignment with the particular value you’re trying to adopt.
This is where the power of habit will come to your aid. Develop habits and rituals around your affirmations. Here are a few examples to help you get an idea of what I mean:
- If your affirmation is “I am strong,” then develop the habit of going to the gym and working out consistently
- If your affirmation is “I am wealthy,” then develop the habit of systematic saving and investing (even if it’s only a modest amount to begin with).
- If your affirmation is “I am courageous,” perform one simple act a day that pushes you out of your comfort zone, such as talking to strangers, taking a cold shower, etc.
Whatever your affirmations are, you need evidence that supports your claim. And the best way to gain that proof is to perform simple acts that align with your affirmations.
5. Remain Persistent
It’s typically at this point many people give up. Why? It takes time to influence yourself to take inspired action with affirmations. For this reason, persistence is a necessity. You must continually adhere to your daily affirmation practice for as long as necessary. And the reason this part throws many people off is that there’s no set time limit for affirmations to take effect.
It could take weeks, months, or even years. This unknown variable may make you question whether it’s worth the effort. If it does, remember this: the time will pass anyway. So you might as well use it effectively, regardless of how long it may take.
Whether you believe in them or not, affirmations can be an effective way to accelerate your self-improvement progress. For this reason, they hold merit and validity as a positive habit that can reinforce your commitment, strengthen your resolve, and keep you on the path toward accomplishing your goals. If you need help with staying on track toward your aims in life, ensure that you sign up for my Newsletter below.
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