[Video] How to Make Affirmations Actually Work – From Aaron Doughty
What are Powerful Affirmations?
Have you ever gotten frustrated with a project and told yourself, “I can’t do this!” Powerful affirmations are the opposite of these negative statements we tell ourselves. Instead of reinforcing the negative feedback loop in our minds, we push against it, saying, “I CAN do this. I am smart. I will succeed.”
I heard my first powerful affirmation when I was a kid. I was reading “The Little Engine That Could.” “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can,” said the train, willing herself up the train tracks after breaking down.
I didn’t understand that it was a powerful affirmation until years later. By then, I thought the statement was cheesy and pointless. What was the point of saying you can do something out loud? If you can do something, then do it. If you believe you’re strong and powerful, then be strong and powerful. Why say it out loud?
Do Powerful Affirmations Work?
We’ve all encountered hurdles in our lives. The hard times are what help us grow, but it can be difficult to emerge on the other side without lasting damage.
For example, I’ve struggled with math since I was ten years old. Years of seeing my tests marked up in red pen damaged my self-esteem. It wasn’t until a year or so ago that I became aware of the negative statements I tell myself: “No, I can’t take statistics. I’ll fail. I shouldn’t even try.” I realized that instead of cheering myself on, I was making things harder for myself.
On top of the difficulty of my statistics class, I had to deal with the negative statements I was telling myself about how I’m stupid and should just give up. I had heard about powerful affirmations, but it made me think of “The Little Engine That Could.” Weren’t powerful affirmations for kids? Wasn’t it a little silly to say things out loud to yourself? No, it’s not silly, and it works. Powerful affirmations train us to believe in ourselves, rather than pushing ourselves down. We become our biggest cheerleader, not our biggest bully.
Why Powerful Affirmations Work
The messages we tell ourselves help create our self-image and our reality. For instance, if I’m so that worried I’m going to trip while walking down the street in my new heels, I’m probably too stuck in my head to pay attention to where my feet are stepping. I keep replaying the embarrassing moment of tripping in my head, oblivious to the crack in the pavement inches from my foot.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. Telling myself that I won’t trip and even if I do, I’ll be okay, loosens me up to be present and grounded in my body. I’m more likely to see the crack if I’m here in the moment.
In a more direct way, powerful affirmations reprogram the way we think. When a person is having a panic attack, they often feel out of control. While symptoms like a pounding heart cannot be controlled, the thoughts we are thinking during a panic attack can be controlled. That is something we often forget in the moment.
Taking the time to take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I have felt this way before and got through it,” can help you calm down faster. We often forget that we have the power to control our thoughts.
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
Your subconscious mind listens to every thought you think and every word you say. What it hears over and over again becomes ingrained resulting in impulsive thinking. If your impulsive thoughts are pessimistic or bring you down, powerful affirmations are a tool you can use to rewire the negative thoughts and assumptions that dominate your mind.
The technical name for powerful affirmations is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP has been found to change your brain chemistry. Studies show that positive thinking increases your lifespan, reduces anxiety, improves immune function and lowers heart disease risk.
NLP overwrites the negative thoughts that affect the way you feel about yourself and the world around you. NLP then replaces negative thoughts with positive feelings and behaviors. Think of it like this: your conscious mind is the architect, and your subconscious is the builder. You must consciously program your subconscious to build the mental environment you want to create.
The Effects of Positivity on the Brain
In “Positive Affirmations: Great For Everyone,” Kimberly J.B. Smith and Andrea Ackerly discuss how “affirmations help students shift from negative patterns like blaming and feeling like a victim to positive, happier feelings.”
When you have a negative thought, tell yourself the opposite of that. For instance, instead of telling myself that I’ll fail my statistics class, I try to catch the thought and push back against it, saying “I will pass this class.”
By doing this, you negate the negative thought and any power it has over you. It’s like standing up to a bully, but the bully is yourself. After hearing something so many times, whether it’s negative or positive, we begin to internalize it. Make sure the statements you tell yourself are helpful not harmful.
Fake it ‘Til You Make It
My aunt once told me that none of us know what we are doing. Some of us are just better at pretending we do. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ is a saying I’ve heard for years, but I never understood what it meant until my aunt said those words to me.
Even the woman leading the meeting feels like everyone can see through her. Even the young professor feels like they are making a fool of themselves. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ is about understanding that we are all winging this thing called life. You learn how to do something by doing it, so get started!
Repetition is the Key to Success
I challenge you to integrate powerful affirmations into your daily routine. Consider looking into the mirror every day and saying five powerful affirmations to yourself.
When I first tried powerful affirmations, I would say the statements while looking at myself in the mirror. Seeing myself and looking into my eyes made it harder to be mean to myself. I would look at the girl in the mirror, her eyes soft and worried. I could see her stress in the way she held her body.
I saw the little girl within me, my inner child just trying to survive as an adult, and I was overcome with compassion. It’s much easier to know what to say to that little girl. Telling her every day that she is smart and kind and unique has changed the way I feel about myself. The routine of hearing these powerful affirmations has given them a chance to sink in and take root in my mind like little seeds.
How to Use Affirmations
You can say affirmations aloud, say them in your head, or write them down. The key to using them is to repeat them over, and over. An affirmation you can use when negative thoughts start to take over is, “I choose to look at the positives and be grateful.” This commands your subconscious mind and it can’t help but go to work discovering the brighter side.
However, you need to do morethan just say the words. You must learn through emotion because that’s how your subconscious works best. This is why you must feel the words.
Imagine how you would feel if the affirmation were 100 percent true in your present reality. Ask yourself how it would feel in your body and allow yourself to truly feel it. The more emotionally attached and physically attached you are to affirmations, the greater they will affect you.
Affirmations you can use to quickly affect the way you feel are the ones that describe the state you want to be in. For example, “I am calm”, “I am relaxed”, or “I am confident.”
A great affirmation for anxiety is, “I deserve to feel at peace.” The key word in the sentence is ‘deserve‘. When you feel anxious, you have an underlying sense that being relaxed isn’t deserved or justified. This perception is an illusion because your anxieties are based on fear of the unknown future.
When using affirmations, the goal isn’t to run through a ton of statements. You must take the time to put ALL of your awareness and emotions into them and allow the words to be felt.
What Affirmations Can You Use?
You can use affirmations to respond to whatever type of negativity you’re experiencing. If you’re inundated with fearful and inhibiting thoughts–try responding with affirmations that empower you, like, “I am confident, brave and resilient.”
Word your affirmations in the present tense and avoid using the future tense. For example, instead of “I will be financially secure” say: “I am financially secure.” Your subconscious mind doesn’t see time in a linear way. It only understands everything in terms of the present moment.
If you incorporate the future in an affirmation, it conditions you with the feeling of anticipating a something rather than experiencing it as real and in the now. Don’t worry about believing if the words are true. Just repeat them without attachment or find to a different affirmation that you gravitate towards and makes you feel good.
When you’ve had a negative belief about yourself for a period long time, stating a positive affirmation that goes against that belief will inevitably make you feel resistant. So, if an affirmation makes you uncomfortable because you feel like it’s not true or that you’ll never believe it could be true, it indicates you’re up against a subconscious block. Trust that the affirmation will eventually work to break through.
How to Create Your Own Powerful Affirmations
Creating your own powerful affirmations can seem daunting at first, but it’s actually easy. What do you worry about often? Your grades? How much money you make? If you’re a good mother? Create powerful affirmations that address those worries.
For example, if you excessively worry about whether or not you spend enough time with your kids, stop and take a deep breath. Tell yourself, “I’m a great mother, and I’m doing the best I can.” Look for all the reasons that this is true from your child’s smile to the roof over their head.
Find ways to celebrate yourself and say it out loud: “I am smart. I make my friends laugh. I always do my best.”
How to Use Subliminal Programming
Subliminal programming is another way to condition your subconscious with beliefs. Remember, your beliefs are what dominate your most impulsive and automatic thoughts.
Subliminal means language that passes below (sub) your limits of conscious perception. The affirmations stated in subliminal programming audios are quiet and they fall into the background behind the music.
You can find subliminal programming audio tracks and programs for NLP online, or you can even make your own. You can also use a microphone or smartphone to record yourself stating affirmations and overlay them on an instrumental music track using a free computer software like GarageBand or Audacity. Make sure to turn down the volume of your voice-over relative to the music that you are playing so that the affirmations aren’t noticeable.
Play your track throughout the day or leave it on while you sleep. Personal development expert Tony Robbins said in an interview that he’s used this technique at night for decades to increase energy, drive and wealth.
Whichever way you choose to use positive affirmations, they will nurture your mind to develop more positivity, perspective, and gratitude. The most important thing is to use them consistently by working them into your regular routine as much as possible. The more you can have fun with it, the greater success you’ll have.
Choosing Joy and Fulfillment
As someone who has struggled with depression since I was a teenager, the phrase
Once I started going to therapy and learned how to reframe my thoughts toward myself and the world, I realized that choose joy is actually really good advice. Sure, I can’t suddenly decide to be happy, but I can make a decision to cancel those plans if I want to take a hot bath and read a book.
Choosing joy and fulfillment is about putting yourself first. Start by building yourself up with powerful affirmations, rather than tearing yourself down.
25 Powerful Affirmations for Anxiety
11. I live in peace.
21. I relax my shoulders and jaw and neck. I see and feel this relaxation flow down through the rest of my body.
25 Powerful Affirmations for Stress
1. I will get through this.
2. My productivity does not determine my self-worth.
3. My GPA/Work Performance Evaluation does not define me.
25 Powerful Affirmations for Depression