Affirmations can seriously change your life AND there’s a right way to do them that isn’t always talked about.
Usually you hear: Pick something positive and say it to yourself again and again and before you know it, TA DA, your life is changed. I know when I first started transforming my life, I didn’t really understand what to say, affirmations didn’t feel right to me so I didn’t really use them as much or as effectively as I could have. I thought affirmations were just putting a sticky note on your mirror and telling myself I was beautiful and I didn’t see how that would help.
In my How Changing My Thoughts Transformed My Life post, I shared how important thoughts really are, and affirmations can certainly help you improve them, so here is what you need to know about effective affirmations.
1. Affirmations need to feel true.
Studies have actually shown that using affirmations can make you feel worse if they don’t feel true for you. If everything feels like it’s going wrong in your life and you’re walking around saying “I love my life,” you will KNOW that it doesn’t feel remotely true, and likely make your current situation feel even worse.
Solution? Create bridges. Using this same example, let’s say the thought you want to get rid of is “I’m fat” and you want to lose weight and love your body but it doesn’t feel true for you right now to say “I am fit” or “I love my body”, say something neutral that IS true. IE “I have a body” or something that is true and not negative. It doesn’t even have to be positive yet, we can focus on just moving your thoughts to neutral territory.
Once things have shifted a bit you can move from there to something more positive.
Maybe “I am grateful to have a body” then “I love X about my body” etc until you get to where you want to be and using the affirmation of “I love my body” doesn’t feel untrue.
Affirmations can be a stretch - that’s generally why we use them, but you don’t want them to feel like they couldn’t be true. Another way create a bridge to affirmations that don’t feel true yet is adding “I am choosing to…” at the beginning. So you could say “I am choosing to love my body” before you go to “I love my body”.
2. Affirmations need to be in the positive.
Nerd fact about your brain - your mind cannot process a negative, meaning you can’t not think about something without thinking about it.
If I say don’t think of a cookie you have to actually think about a cookie to not think about it. We can’t represent the absence. Sounds weird I know, but basically you need the affirmation to be positive ie “I eat food that nourish my body” instead of “I won’t eat cookies”.
The affirmation should focus on leading you toward something good, not away from something bad. If you affirm “I don’t want” or “I’m not” something… you actually are affirming what you don’t want.
3. You need to feel the affirmation.
Mindlessly repeating affirmations will do little to really help. Although repetition is important and it does help our subconscious mind learn (the Illusory Truth Effect explains how if we hear a lie often enough we begin to believe it’s true), we learn so much better when emotion is attached and that is where we can really start to feel the change.
Practise creating the FEELING with intensity that will go along with the affirmation. Think about a time in the past when you felt the feeling, imagine it - if you need to jump around or have a dance party or lie down or whatever it is, do your best to feel the feeling that accompanies the affirmation and practise that as much as possible.
Know the Maya Angelou quote? People won’t forget how you made them feel? Well your brain is like “same”. Give it some good feelings to hold on to.
In order to help you master your thoughts for good, I created a 5-day course called Bully to BFF, which includes my day-by-day formula for changing your thoughts for good. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?
Affirmations need to feel true (or that they could be true).
Affirmations need to be positive and focused on what you do want (not on what you don’t want).
You need to feel them. Repetition is important but repetition x intensity is what will actually create change.
Have you used affirmations? Do you want to start and have more questions? Let me know in the comments.