Many of us have heard about affirmations and how they can help us reach our goals, increase our self-esteem or self worth, more specifically self affirmations, but how exactly do affirmations work?
Let’s dive in, first by defining the word affirmation. When searching the best definition I found for affirmation is defined as “a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.” Digging a bit deeper, the origin is derived from the Latin word affirmationem or affirmare meaning “to make steady, strengthen.” To make sense of this for me is to make a statement to strengthen my beliefs (truths) about myself.
Upon reflecting, my first experience with affirmations took place in school where a poster hung displaying the phrase “I think I can.” This affirmation has been ingrained within and has served me throughout this journey called life. On numerous occasions I can remember repeating “I think I can” from trivial events to bigger accomplishments.
When I was reintroduced to affirmations as a young adult, my first thought was “yeah right, that won’t work, it can’t work, that seems too good to be true.” Admittedly, it took me years before I tried to use affirmations and it definitely was not an overnight success.
One of the more common misconceptions of affirmations is that merely repeating the affirmation will manifest the desired outcome. When in actuality, stating affirmations is only the first step in the process and taking action is required to reach the desired outcome. Another misstep when trying to use affirmations that often occurs is that the affirmation being stated is not even close to believable to the person repeating the affirmation. In my experience, an affirmation that results in progress is one that is a stretch or challenge from a current belief but that it is believed to be attainable.
Steps in creating affirmations that work:
- Identify a goal or dream.
- Identify any doubts/negative beliefs that you have about achieving said goal/dream and write them down.
- Write a statement that lightly challenges the doubt/negative belief and is believable to you.
- Say/Repeat/Write affirmations several times throughout your day.
- Place notes where you frequent so you can see them often (i.e. bathroom mirror, fridge, car visor, etc)
In my current use and practice of affirmations, I design statements that challenge my current beliefs, yet motivate me to take action. To demonstrate, my current affirmation that I am practicing is “I am a person who takes small steps forward to equal massive action.” I have realized that I often will take in information or have big dreams and do research on how to make the dream a reality, believing that I am taking action by doing the research, yet making no progress to actuality my dream. So for me this affirmation as stated above pushes me to take the steps necessary to reach my goals.