Positive Self-Affirmations: Your Psychological Immune System

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Sometime last week, I randomly had a thought of putting together all the affirmations I had collected and written down in different places into one document. I truly didn’t know why I did what I did and decided to find out more about affirmations and see whether they have any impact on our lives and if they are beneficial in any way. I have used positive affirmations previously and also have read the book, The Secret, but to be honest, the affirmations did not work for me previously. So I decided to find out more about affirmations and maybe this time, I will be able to successfully use affirmations.

So let’s start at the very beginning – what exactly are positive affirmations? Affirmations which are a New Age terminology are said to be “the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that “a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything.” More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to one’s self and written down frequently. For affirmations to be effective, it is said that they need to be present tense, positive, personal and specific.

These ideas grew in popularity after books like Rhonda Bryrne’s The Secret, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and Wallace D. Wattles’ 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich became popular in their times. Affirmations are also referred to in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), Neuro Associative Conditioning “NAC” as popularized by Anthony Robbins, and hypnosis.

What it means is that when we think positively and have positive thoughts relating to a specific event or thing we want, we manage to turn things in our tide using the power of our mind and that specific event happens or we get hold of exactly what we want. In other words, they are positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts.

A 2009 study found that positive affirmation had a small, positive effect on people with high self-esteem, but a detrimental effect on those with low self-esteem. Individuals with low self-esteem who made positive affirmations felt worse than individuals who made positive statements but were allowed to consider ways in which the statements were false. There have also been some studies which show that when self-affirmation statements which involve writing about one’s core values rather than repeating a positive self-statement can improve performance under stress.

It is said that affirmations are not only for manifesting a specific goal, but they are also meant to encourage a life filled with positivity and gratitude.

We do speak with ourselves in different times during the day, something pepping us up and at other times cursing ourselves when we make a blunder. I tend to be more on the negative side as opposed to the positive side. Daily affirmations are like a psychological immune system. When you get bogged down or thinking negatively, your affirmations will allow you to pick you up and get you back on track.

While researching for this post, I read up a few articles on positive affirmations and saw that, in spite of my scepticism, there are benefits to this practice.

You perform better under stress – positive self-affirmations allow you to release your stress and help you perform better, whether at home, in school or at work.

You are better off psychologically – When someone uses positive affirmations regularly, they tend to feel happier, more optimistic, more hopeful, healthier, less sad and less angry.

Healthy habits – You can also use positive affirmations to change habits. Reminding yourself periodically can help promote a healthier way of living. Apparently a recent study showed that optimistic people have healthier hearts.

Self-Awareness – When you think, speak or write certain thoughts on a daily basis, you become more aware of them and then consciously work to reduce negativity in your life. This allows you to become a more positive person both inward and outwards.

Gratitude – Daily affirmations keep you in a constant state of gratitude. When you remember the small things that make you happy, you become aware of the little things in life that are important. This is especially true today when we live a fast paced life, one that is constantly on our smart phones.

Motivation – Affirmations allow you to motivate yourself into doing positive actions. When you tell yourself you will be successful in a particular activity, then the chances are that you will focus all your attention in making sure you do your best in this activity and be the best you are. Your thoughts point to the direction of your life’s actions.

So how do we go about making positive self-affirmations? You can think about them, repeat a sentence like a mantra while you practice meditation (in fact, I remember reading that meditating over a self-affirmation is a great way to do it), write it down some place or even whisper it under your breath at periodic points in your day. You could do one, more or even all of these during your day to affirm your thought for the day. There is no hard and fast rules about the timing or frequency when it comes to practicing positive self-affirmations.

According to psychotherapist Ronald Alexander of the Open Mind Training Institute, affirmations can be repeated up to three to five times daily to reinforce the positive belief. He suggests that writing your affirmations down in a journal and practicing them in the mirror is a good method for making them more powerful and effective.

You can create your own affirmation phrase which is generic like, “I am a successful person” or “I am confident and capable at what I do” or focus on a specific area of your life like, “I choose only to think good thoughts” or “I choose to eat healthily for all meals.

You can also create your own positive affirmation cards on small credit card sized paper where you write your chosen affirmation and pop it into your bag to read throughout the day. I prefer using an online diary like Google Docs and writing down my affirmations and I can view them while I am working or even during my commute as I whip out my phone and read it on the go.

There are loads of resouces online which have many affirmations you can use or you can create your own affirmations. What works for someone may not be the best affirmation for you, so you need to work around and see what works best for you. I personally feel this is more of a trial and error method.

Positive self-affirmations can be a refreshing way to use positive self-talk capable of reversing negative internal messages and motivating ourselves. Do you have your own affirmations you’d like to share? Or, even better, how do you come up with your own affirmations? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

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