It’s no secret that positive affirmations work. You’ve probably heard someone recommend them before to help boost your mood, motivate you, or to generally improve your outlook on life.
A positive affirmation is a self-truth. It’s a statement that we know or desire to be true, which we affirm and bring into being with our words. Naturally, it should also be optimistic to help combat the negativity and unhelpful thoughts we have. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much our thoughts and emotions affect our reality—especially in THIS post—and one of the best ways to take control of that is to have daily affirmations that align with the life you want to lead and the person you want to be.
How do they work?
There is a strange power to words. A compliment can lift your spirit (“You look nice today!” ) while an insult can break your heart (“Can you do anything right?” ). Hearing these things over and over from other people can sway your mood, affect your drive to achieve your goals, and even alter what those goals are. These words are essentially reaching you on a subconscious level, rewiring the way you think and feel through repetition and abundance. A person in a toxic relationship who is constantly belittled by the one they loved will start to believe they really are useless. Someone with supportive friends who is always encouraged to chase their dreams will be motivated to live life to the fullest. Your success and failure could very well hinge on the words you hear the most.
You might have heard the saying by Jim Rohn that “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s been proven that who we surround ourselves with influences our own futures. THIS study actually goes further than that and says that it’s not just the closest five, but everyone in your life and even friends of friends can affect your perceptions, your choices, and who you become (not just on a conscious level, but specifically on a subconscious one).
If all this is true, then it’s more important than ever to make sure the one person you are with ALL THE TIME is lifting you up, encouraging you, and loving you.
And that person is yourself.
Where do I start?
1. who you are
I would begin by asking yourself who you are. Honestly, deep down, when no one else is around to judge and you can let go and really be yourself…who are you? If there’s a particular aspect of your life you’d like to focus on right now, direct these thoughts to that area. (E.G. you want to improve your health and nutrition, or you’re trying to climb the corporate ladder, or you need to reorganize and manage your home life.) It’s okay if your answers come across as self-absorbed. It’s important to focus on yourself here, because that’s the only person you truly have the ability to change.
In February 2020, I decided it was high time I focused on my health and on dropping the extra forty pounds I’d gained since having three kids. So I asked myself, who am I when it comes to my health? And here’s what my answer was:
I’m easily motivated to follow my dreams, but I’m also kind of lazy when it comes to actually getting things done. I get a little disgusted when I look in the mirror right now. I know I’m pretty and I know I’m smart, but I have a terrible opinion of my personal body image and I can be very self-deprecating. Though I talk about the weight and my looks a lot, I also have a deep desire to get healthier. I absolutely hate that I’ve let myself get so unhealthy. This is not who I am. I’m the girl who could do unlimited push-ups in boot camp and laugh as I did them. I’m the girl who dropped all the weight AND THEN SOME after having her first kid, and I looked and felt AMAZING. If I could do it once, I know I can do it again!
2. who you want to be
Once you have a good idea of who you are, you can break it down and figure out who you want to be. What do you already love about yourself? What would you like to change? Try to keep these balanced or even list more of the things you already love. Change isn’t instant; in fact, it’s generally slow and subtle. Which means you need to start by working with what you have and incorporating your new outlook at a steady pace. If you overload yourself now, the weight of your expectations will crush your resolve.
These aren’t your final affirmations, but choose your words carefully here. Keep them as positive and optimistic as possible. Use words like “I love,” “I want,” “I would like,” or “I can.” Avoid words like “I hate,” “I never,” or “I don’t.”
As negative as I usually am, it’s pretty easy for me to see where the improvements need to be made. So in the interest of balance, I tried to make sure I named one thing I already loved for every change I wanted to make. Then I limited it to five of each so as not to overwhelm myself.
I love that I’m easily motivated. I love that I’m pretty and smart. I love that I want to be actually healthy. I love that I have a great base from my past to use as a motivational tool. I love that I know I can do it just because I’ve already done it before!
I want to change my self-deprecating nature. I want to make healthier choices. I can lose the weight. I would like to get back to where I was in the Navy, physical-wise. I want to look in the mirror and love myself.
3. what you need to hear
This is where the magic happens. For every sentence you wrote in step two, you’re going to write an affirmation. Turn the sentence into something positive, optimistic, motivating, truthful, encouraging, or loving. Be confident in your words. After all, you’re affirming these to be truths. You can’t say them hesitantly, and you can’t lie. If it helps, pretend all these positive traits and hopeful changes are for your best friend. You’re trying to support them, so you say wonderful, uplifting things to remind them of how great they already are and to inform them that becoming the person they want to be is much easier than they think! Use words like “I” and “me” so when you say them out loud, they are true to your Self. Just like before, use positive words like “I am,” “I can,” and action verbs that affirm “I do.” (Such as “I believe” and “I trust.” Nothing negative.)
I would personally suggest avoiding “I will” sentences, because those feel too much like goals to me. And when you keep saying “I will,” if over time you don’t do whatever it is you say you’ll do, it can be a bit of a let-down and ruin some of the power affirmations carry. So, for instance, instead of saying “I will make healthy choices,” say “I make healthy choices.” Keep it current and in the present.
I am prepared to be successful.
I am beautiful and I always have been.
I am smart and intelligent.
I am the same girl who totally owned in boot camp.
I make healthy choices.
I love myself for who I am.
It’s okay to make mistakes.
I believe in myself and my goals.
I am better than I was yesterday.
I am proud of everything I have accomplished so far!
When to use them
You don’t have to say all of them every day if it’s too much for you. Do whatever is manageable, but do something daily. I generally say three in the morning and try to say one every time I look in a mirror. Kind of like training my subconscious to see myself as a kind, helpful person every time I “see” myself, while also training myself to trust and believe that I am all these wonderful things. (I know I am, but it never hurts to hear it!)
Some people like to also create ones that are time-specific. Affirmations meant to help set up your day (“Today is going to be a great day!” ), ones meant to clear your conscience after a long day is over (“I offered my best self today.” ), and even ones set up before an activity. Perhaps before exercising you’ll tell yourself, “I am strong and fit. I am proud of myself for putting in the effort. Everything I do is better than if I hadn’t done it.” Before going to work you might say, “I work hard. My happiness does not depend on other people. No matter how difficult it is, I can do it.”
You can also use them to help motivate yourself “in the moment.” As an author, I am almost always out of “writing juice” when I finally have the time to sit down and write. I don’t usually know ahead of time if I’ll have the chance to get some writing done, and I hate trying to motivate myself to write every morning when it turns out I just don’t have the time. So if I find myself sitting at a computer with my hands on the keyboard and an empty slate in my head, I’ll run through a few motivational affirmations about being a good writer and being creative, and how every word I write is more than I had to begin with. (It also helps to read motivational articles and tips like THIS one for authors.)
There are many other ways to use positive affirmations. Some of them elicit more of a positive feeling than anything, but don’t hesitate to get creative when it comes to boosting your mood and improving your life. You are worth the effort.
A friend of mine told me how she used to call her own phone and leave herself positive recordings. Then in the evening, when she checked her voicemails, she’d hear these wonderful phrases and statements and they’d lift her spirit after a long day.
One of my favorite things to do is write myself motivational quotes and phrases and tape them up in the places I spend the most time, or the places I know I’ll really need them. I have a ton of notes and little sketches posted around my office space that make me happy when I see them. You don’t even have to write them all yourself if you have someone whose influence you admire. I have a label on my elliptical that my husband made for me that says, “I love you, my Peaches!” It reminds me that he supports me in everything I do, no matter how I look (as he’s told me many times over). That really boosts my mood.
Try to get personal with it if you can. Reach yourself emotionally. I find that some of the more generic and deep affirmations people suggest around the internet are just too impersonal to work for me. They don’t ring true to my individual voice, so when I say them, they sort of fall flat.
I keep a handwritten note taped to the wall beside my treadmill that says, “Non sono come una balena!” This is Italian for “I am not like a whale.” And all right, I admit, it’s not the nicest way to say it and probably not the best affirmation, but I have a twisted sense of humor. So I ran with it. (Literally—because I run on the treadmill…okay, the bad jokes are over.) Even though this one seems like it’s borderline harsh, I love it because it’s so true to myself and my personality. And since it’s still positive, I laugh when I read it. Especially since I did manage to lose the weight, so I know for a fact now that I am nothing like a whale. Not even a seal. (Maybe a mermaid!)
Oh, oh, it’s magic!
A lot of religions actually use forms of affirmations in their rites and worship. They are usually affirmations of the power and intent of a deity or prophet. It’s easier for a lot of people to connect to their spirituality through repetition and prayer. Essentially, they are reaffirming their beliefs, usually ones that put them at peace and help guide them to make good choices in their daily lives.
Since affirmations are centered firmly in intuition and emotion and the human psyche, they can feel very much like magic or the work of the gods. So, if it makes you feel a little extra witchy—as it does for me—you can think of your affirmations as spells (because they basically are).
A spell (like a prayer) is the power of intent put into words. The words you use—the connotations they imply, the correspondences they connect you to, the emotions they elicit—are what give the spell its power. When combined with a ritual (which by definition is a series of actions done in a set order) the spell is enhanced.
Let’s say that every day, when you wake up, you go through your daily routine (a.k.a. your morning ritual). Part of this ritual involves stretching, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth. Just doing those three things at the same time every day helps put you in the right mindset, because it makes you feel as if you’ve “checked” something off your mental to-do list. It’s familiar and reassuring. It’s safe and comforting. It’s “normal” for you. We all need a little of that in our lives.
Maybe after you brush your teeth, your ritual continues when you look into the mirror and speak your affirmations (a.k.a. reciting your spells). Doing this sends waves of energy throughout your life and body, persuading your mind and effecting change in your future thoughts and actions.
Look at you, making magic happen! 😉
Examples of Affirmations
Here are some affirmations that you can use yourself or take as inspiration to create your own. Remember to make sure they feel personal!
- I am in control of my feelings.
- I deserve to be happy.
- I am smart.
- I am beautiful/handsome.
- I am kind.
- Today is going to be a great day!
- I am loved.
- My life matters.
- I deserve respect.
- I can do anything I set my mind to.
- I have the power to create change.
- I constantly attract abundance with my thoughts.
- I am thankful for everything I have.
- I forgive myself for my mistakes.
- I have everything I need right now.
- If it is meant to be, it will work out.
- I believe in myself.
- Every day is a fresh start.
- Inspiration is all around me.
- My life is a cherished gift.
- If I do my best, it is enough.
- It’s okay not to know everything.
- I am here for a reason.
- I can do this.
Good luck, friends! I hope this has helped. What are some of your affirmations?
Learn, grow, and be magical. ❤
feature image from Flickr.