When you hear the word affirmation, what comes to mind? For me, I automatically think of someone staring at themselves in the mirror repeating phrases like “You are worthy of love.” While there’s nothing wrong with that method of using affirmations, thinking that this was the only way to use affirmations kept me from using them for years.
When you start to use affirmations in your daily life, you begin to harness the limitless power of your thoughts. And our thoughts become our actions, which in turn creates our reality. So through the practice of affirmations, you can literally craft your reality and completely shift your life experience.
If you’re ready to tap into the magic that lies buried within that noggin of yours, then this is the article for you. In this article, I will show you a variety of ways you can start using affirmations to intentionally create a life you love.
- Do affirmations really work?
- What happens if you start using affirmations in your life
- 5 ways to start using affirmations
- Wrapping up
Do affirmations really work?
I used to be of the belief that affirmations were too “woo-woo” for me. I thought that it’s all good and dandy to say nice things to yourself, but I didn’t believe that they could actually help me in the real world.
And let me tell you, the research definitely proved me wrong. I started to really dive into affirmations when I was battling anxiety heavily during graduate school. And it was a school therapist who first pointed me in the direction of trying affirmations.
Being the bratty graduate student that I was, I wanted to see the evidence. And as it turns out, there is a fair amount of evidence in favor of affirmations helping in a variety of circumstances.
A study in 2010 found that individuals who utilized self-affirmations experienced reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. And even more interestingly, research found that women who are giving birth reported significantly reduced anxiety when being told affirmations during labor.
It blew my mind that just saying simple but meaningful phrases could have such a profound effect. Figuring that I had nothing to lose, I started practicing daily affirmations and I quickly became addicted as I saw the positive response in my own life.
What happens if you start using affirmations in your life
When you start to utilize affirmations that are meaningful to you, your thought life improves and your actions follow suit.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, let’s back it up with some hard evidence.
A study in 2016 found that individuals who use self-affirmations had more activation in areas of the brain involved in processing our sense of self and our orientation towards our future.
And these same individuals with activation in this area of the brain were less likely to be sedentary and more likely to work towards their physical activity goals in relation to an intervention directed at improving health.
So you can literally change the words you say to yourself and activate your brain in such a way that you set yourself up for a better future. It really does sound like some superpower that’s too good to be true.
But the really cool thing about it is that this tool is available to you at any time and is totally free. So there is no risk to at least giving it a try.
The potential reward from a simple behavioral change should be enough for us to push our skepticism to the side.
5 ways to start using affirmations
If you’re not quite ready to stare at yourself in the mirror and recite phrases over and over again, don’t worry because neither am I.
Let’s dive into 5 different ways you can easily incorporate affirmations into your life without having to stare at your bed head first thing in the morning.
1. Find a YouTube Video with positive affirmations
YouTube. It’s the only place you can find hilarious cat videos and information regarding complex meta-physics in the same place.
But what you can also find on YouTube are free affirmation-based videos ranging in length from 5 minutes to 1 hour. If you’re like me, sometimes it’s easier to listen to someone else calmly saying positive affirmations to you instead of having to create your own.
The other thing I really love about YouTube is if you find that you don’t align with a certain affirmation video, then you have a whole slew of other options to choose from.
I found a quick five-minute affirmation video that I listen to either on my morning commute or while I brush my teeth in the morning. It gets my mindset right before the workday and helps me focus on cultivating the emotions that I want to experience that day.
And after your affirmations, you can then feel free to click on that silly cat video to get a good laugh. No judgment here.
2. Place sticky notes around you with positive affirmations
If you’re more of a visual person, I’d encourage you to take advantage of the power of sticky notes.
When I was going through a rough patch during grad school where anxiety was taking over my life, I decided to write the phrase “you can do hard things” on a sticky note and place it near the odometer in my car.
It sounds silly, but because the sticky note was in a place where I was forced to see it daily, I started to believe it. And I slowly found myself saying that phrase whenever I felt anxious about an exam or when I was going into the clinic with my clinical instructor.
It may sound dramatic, but I give a fair bit of credit to that sticky note for getting me through grad school. Because while the sticky note itself was simple, the confidence and mindset shift it instilled in me was anything but simple.
Choose a phrase or two that really resonates with you and your current life aspirations. And then put that sticky note in a place where you will be forced to interact with it daily. You may just find that the sticky note transforms your life for the better.
3. Practice traditional meditation
Now, I fully acknowledge that this one isn’t for everyone. Even for me, this is often not my first choice when it comes to practicing affirmations. But that’s probably the reason I need to do it even more.
Forcing yourself to be still and direct your thoughts towards what you want to attract is a very powerful practice. And if you’re like me, it truly takes practice.
I’ll start out great for the first few minutes by saying my affirmations over and over again in my head. But then seconds later I’m fretting about the undone laundry or distracted by hearing my dog snore while she’s napping.
What I have found helpful for me personally is to start out small. I literally will do 3 minutes and have the timer on my phone set so that I can close my eyes and devote all my focus towards repeating my affirmations in my head. I’ve been able to build up to 10 minutes, but this one is still very much a work in progress for me.
However, every time I do this, not only do I feel more motivated and uplifted, but I also feel an overwhelming sense of calm. And that alone for me makes it a practice worth continuing to master.
4. Take a walk
If you don’t do well sitting still, doing what I like to call an “affirmation walk” can be a great alternative option.
My mind is quick to wander, so I tend to gravitate towards movement to help direct my focus. I have found that for me, walking while focusing on a few specific affirmations can really help to reset my mind.
Sometimes I combine this one with tip number one. I just listen to my favorite positive affirmations on YouTube while walking and it’s pretty much guaranteed that I am going to feel brand new afterward.
In all honesty, this tends to be my go-to option when I’m having a bad day or if I feel like I’m in a real slump in life. I think it’s the combination of endorphins released from walking along with forcing myself to focus on something besides my mood or the problem that is able to flip my frown upside down.
5. Create an affirmation mantra
Sometimes the idea of having a long list of positive affirmations to focus on daily becomes overwhelming. And if you’re generally short on time secondary to the demands of your day, I get it.
But instead of throwing up your hands and saying you just don’t have time to use affirmations, pick one affirmation that is the most meaningful to you and your current needs. And say this affirmation whenever you get the chance. Keep it simple, yet meaningful.
I have found this technique helpful for me because when I get stressed or anxious, I go back to that affirmation mantra and say it a few times in my head to redirect my thoughts.
My current affirmation mantra is “be where your feet are” as I am trying to live in the present moment and not get wrapped up in the worries of tomorrow.
When the paperwork piles up at the office or if I get overwhelmed by all the chaos in the world around me, I say this statement and automatically feel the tension ease in my body.
Using affirmations doesn’t have to be time-consuming or feel like an unattainable self-help practice. Adapt it to your needs and you will still reap the rewards of the simple mental shift that stems from affirmations.
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At the end of the day, what you say to yourself matters. If you can’t bear the idea of staring at yourself in the mirror chanting cheesy positive affirmations while your dog stares at you, don’t worry. You can use the techniques from this article to effortlessly adapt the practice of using affirmations to meet your individual needs in whatever way feels comfortable to you. And with a little practice, you may just find yourself becoming an affirmation addict who is high on life.
Do you believe in the power of practicing affirmations? What's your favorite method to do affirmations? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!