What Are Affirmations?
‘Affirmations are amazing fear breakers and belief creators.’ Dr. Steve G. Jones, Clinical Hypnotherapist
Affirmations are really short, simple yet powerful sentences aimed to affect the conscious and the subconscious mind with the intention that they help alter our thinking patterns, habits and behaviour. Affirmations are also emotional support through change.
How Do Affirmations Work?
‘Neurons that fire together, wire together.’ Donald Hebb, Neuropsychologist
Thanks to neuroscience, we now know that certain neural pathways are increased when we practice self-affirmations, making affirmations an excellent way of breaking old limiting beliefs and building new positive beliefs and mindsets. Words are potent, and when directed inwards through the use of positive self-talk, they can transform our internal state on an intense and profound level. Our mind doesn’t know the difference between real and pretend, and because of this, affirmations can program our mind into believing the stated concept. Basically speaking, affirmations help ‘rewire’ the brain.
Benefits of Affirmations
‘Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.’ Dr. Wayne Dyer
When we speak highly of ourselves, we build our self-esteem. When we criticise ourselves, we leave ourselves feeling vulnerable. If our inner dialogue is continuously negative, then our emotional state will be negative too. When our body’s in a constant state of stress, we’re more prone to illness and disease. If, on the other hand, our internal dialogue is positive, then we’re likely to feel stronger in our sense of self. As a result, we’re more resilient and less threatened by other people’s negativity and less defensive in our response, resulting in a much calmer approach to life and living.
While some of us might find positive self-talk comes naturally, others, however, may need to learn how to cultivate positive thoughts and dispel the negative ones. This is where stating daily affirmations can become useful as they’ll help us direct our thoughts down a more positive and focussed path.
Affirmations can help us change the way we see the world. They can help us develop a positive and more optimistic approach to life and living. When we search for the good in everyone and everything that’s the reality we create for ourselves. We also know from science, the moment we change our perception is the moment we rewrite the chemistry of our bodies.
How to Self-Affirm
‘Fake it ‘till you make it.’ Dr. Joe Dispenza, Neuroscientist
When spoken with conviction, positive self-affirmations can help alter our thoughts, emotions, beliefs and behaviour. The key, however, is to be quite imaginative and to use lots of imagery and visualisation. The more real we make what it is we’re affirming, the stronger the neural connections become. It helps if we can visualise ourselves as ‘having’, ‘being’ or ‘doing’ what it is we’re affirming, this makes it more experiential and more real. If, to begin with, you find this difficult to do, just pretend. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between real or pretend. Fake it ‘till you make it.
It helps too if we can engage all of our senses (sight, sound, feel, taste and smell) when stating our affirmations as this helps anchor and lock the affirmation deeper into our subconscious mind.
What to Self-Affirm
‘Other choices are not possible until they are downloaded as beliefs and perception into the subconscious.’ Dr. Bruce Lipton, Developmental Biochemist
Affirmations help us express ourselves in a more positive light, encouraging us to want a better, more positive future for ourselves. When used correctly, they also provide us with emotional support as we go through challenging circumstances, making us more resilient to change. When used intentionally to create change, they can help project us towards achieving our goals. Who knows better than us which words soothe and heal and which ones cut through to our core. Therefore, we should use our words very wisely, as our inner dialogue becomes the script that frames our lives.
To write the script we’d like, it helps if we know what we value in life, and then write our affirmations in line with our values. When we know our values, we have a greater sense of self as our values fuel our emotions, feelings and thoughts. When we live our lives in accordance with our values, we feel more fulfilled. When we look at our values in relation to our family, our life partner (if we have one), our friends, our spirituality, our leisure, our career, our money, and our health, we gain a holistic approach. We can then write tailor-made affirmations with greater ease.
While affirmations can be a powerful tool to help alter our mood, change our state of mind and manifest the changes we desire in life, they work best if we can first identify the negative belief that opposes them.
Identifying Negative Beliefs
‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.’ Aristotle
For some of us, our negative beliefs are so deep-rooted and so powerful that they withstand any attempts we make at overriding them with positive beliefs through affirmations. Because of this, it’s important we identify the negative beliefs that could potentially derail us in our attempt to change our thinking. Once we identify our negative beliefs, we can then reprogramme our minds and rewrite the script we live by.
To identify your negative beliefs:
- Identify one area of life that you would like to change.
- List the negative criticisms you received from others that influence this one area of life.
- List your own negative self-talk in relation to this.
Once you’ve written out your list this is where you get to rewrite your script.
- Take each negative belief and identify a positive, corresponding belief. Choose one that you would like instead, regardless of whether you believe it yet!
- Write out your affirmation based on your new positive belief. Write it in as many variations as possible. Play with the words and get the phrasing right for you.
This is a very self-empowering exercise to do and has the potential to totally transform your thinking and impact greatly on your life.
Repeat this exercise for all areas of your life.
How To Write Positive Affirmations
‘You only have control over three things in your life. The thoughts you think, the images you visualise, and the action you take.’ Jack Canfield, Author and Motivational Speaker
- Be open to the power of suggestion through positive affirmations. You can only change if you want to change, but sometimes we need to permit ourselves to do so.
- Write affirmations when you’re feeling happy, satisfied or uplifted. This will be reflected in the affirmations.
- Write relevant affirmations based on your most pressing desires and dreams, be specific, decide what you want.
- Base your affirmations on your needs and goals and not those of others.
- Write in the first person and use the phrase ‘I AM’. I AM are two of the most powerful words in the English language. What follows them defines who you are.
- Write them in the present tense. This means you’re accepting of the outcome.
- State your affirmation in the positive. Avoid using any negative words such as ‘can’t’, or ‘won’t’ etc.
- Include an action word ending with ‘-ing’. For example, ‘being’, ‘doing’, ‘having’.
- Include at least one powerful positive emotion or feeling word.
- Use your imagination to visualise your affirmations as already taking place.
- Use all your senses to fully experience your affirmation as you ‘become’ what it is you’re affirming.
Reprogramming The Subconscious Mind
‘This can’t just be sticky notes on the mirror. This must be felt and experienced. This can be difficult if we are experiencing great contrast to the thing we want. Remember habits are by repeating something over and over and over again. Practising, repeating, practising!’ Dr. Bruce Lipton, Developmental Biochemist
It helps to remember that our subconscious mind has been built over years and years. It’s been built on an accumulation of thoughts, memories, beliefs, experiences and emotions. Change is a process and will not happen overnight, and it takes 72 hours to create a new neural connection. But it’s worth remembering the more we repeat our affirmation and truly feel ourselves into the new experience, the easier it will be to create the connection. Once we’ve made that connection only then can we build on it and create a more optimistic future.
We really do need to allow ourselves the time to be the change we want to be, but, in the meantime, act like we have what it is that we’re affirming. It takes repetition to change our affirmation from being a statement to becoming an undeniable belief. There’s a well-known phrase ‘fake it till you make it’. But remember it takes repetition, repetition, repetition to build the new pattern.
When to Use Affirmations
‘Research clearly indicates that Theta waves increase creativity, super learning, integrative experiences, and memory.’ Michael Hutchison, Author
We can use our affirmations anytime, anyplace, anywhere. However, it’s been scientifically proven that the best time to state our affirmations is last thing at night just as we’re about to fall asleep or first thing in the morning just as we’re waking up. During these times the brain is in the barely conscious state, known as Theta brain waves. This is where our conscious and subconscious worlds meet. While in the theta state, we’re withdrawn from the external world and focused on our internal signals. During Theta our mind is capable of deep and profound learning as we tend to absorb whatever material we’re presented with, in a totally accepting and uncritical fashion. Dr. Bruce Lipton describes the subconscious mind as being similar to a tape recorder. It records our experiences and then plays them back. The more we record (affirm) our new programmes, the easier it will be to override the old negative programmes.
Repeated use of affirmations in a meditative state can help to reprogramme the mind. This meditation focuses on reinforcing the belief that we’re resilient, we’re at peace within and with the world around us. This is something we all need right now as we cope with the global pandemic of COVID-19.
The meditation that accompanies this blog post is more than a meditation. It teaches you how to work from a place of heart coherence, where your brain is in alignment with your heart, you work with the power of pure intention to direct your thoughts, words and actions to bring about the reality you desire.
Genuinely transformational and empowering. I refer to this process as ‘Stepping Into Your Light’, and it forms the basis of a technique I call Soul Therapy – Infusion Techniques. Click HERE for the blog post on Stepping Into Your Light.