How to Make Positive Affirmations Work for You
Do you recall a time when the word “affirmation” wasn’t part of your vocabulary? Truth is, these pronouncements have been part of the human condition for centuries—-we just hadn’t made the connection until recently.
From the Greek philosopher Epictetus, through some of the most insightful thinkers of our time, positive thought has emerged from the souls of greats like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill to Norman Vincent Peale and Earl Nightingale. These icons helped drive empowerment movements and they’ll never be forgotten
The growth, care and feeding of positive affirmations
We’ve come a long way, baby. Seminars, self-help groups, counselors and best-selling books talk about positive affirmation as a way of inspiring ourselves while discovering the strengths that reside inside—traits we may not know about or acknowledge in a day and age when “put downs” and guilt follow us around at every turn.
But once you strip the commercial face of the affirmation away and get down to the core of its power—the place you may not yet have discovered in yourself—you can discover a way to believe in yourself that forms a solid foundation rather than a wish–that’s when the art of affirmation shines!
What is a positive affirmation?
How much time do you have? We ask because this simple question comes with myriad answers, thus even the tip of the iceberg may not do this topic justice. For purposes of getting on with definitions and getting you started on your own journey to acceptance, warts and all, here is a mini-introduction to the definition:
Dr. Carmen Harra, whose “Huffington Post” article showcases Arlene Taylor’s pioneering behavioral research, describes positive thoughts and the psychological and physical benefits they deliver.
When we affirm our self worth, our brains respond by pushing out “feel-good” hormones that generate what Taylor refers to as “positive thought” neurons. Affirmations can rewire our brains in positive ways, just like physical exercise, and they play a pivotal role in breaking negative thought patterns that can demoralize us.
What are typical affirmations?
Sometimes, it’s easier to learn by example, especially if you’re just getting started on a journey to the essence of your being. Grab a cup of tea before perusing “The Only 100 Positive Affirmations You Will Ever Need” list on ProlificLiving.com, but if you don’t have time to read the whole list, allow us to give you a taste of these uplifting statements:
-Feeling alone? “I feel the love of those who are not physically around me.”
-So scared, you can’t think straight? “Following my intuition and my heart keeps me safe and sound.”
-Did somebody make you feel like you don’t matter? “I may be one in 7 billion, but I am also one in 7 billion.”
-Can’t get on top of your anger? “I forgive myself for all of the mistakes I have made.”
-Has hopelessness invaded your soul? “I may not understand the good in this situation, but I know it’s there.”
-Has decision-making become an impossible task? “I trust myself to make the best decision for me.”
-When sleep won’t come: “I release my mind of thought until the morning.”
-Can’t get out of bed? “I will fill my day with hope and face it with joy.”
-Wresting with a problem that seems hopeless? “There is a great reason this is unfolding before me now.”
How to put these statements to work for you
According to Dr. Ronald Alexander’s inciteful “Psychology Today” magazine column, getting into the habit of employing affirmations requires a little practice. But it takes just three steps to get into the habit and you can add two more steps if you’re extremely eager to do the work.
1. Grab a pad of paper (or boot your PC) and list every negative quality about yourself that you can muster. Dig for criticisms, gossip and rumors you’ve internalized so you see how much damage has been done to your psyche over time—damage that isn’t your fault.
2. Counter-punch! No boxing gloves required, of course, unless you want to add stress-relief to your routine and have access to a gym. This step asks you to scan that list and “translate” each negative into a positive. Ask a close friend to monitor you. Don’t be surprised if she comes up with more positive things to say about you!
3. Speak up. And make it loud. Devote five minutes of time morning, afternoon and night to articulating those positive statements about yourself while standing in front of a mirror. Worried you’ll forget your assignment? Hang your list on the wall so you don’t skip a single gem.
4. Dr. Alexander suggests identifying part of your body experiencing pain every time you are emotionally hurt. Maybe it’s your stomach. Or your chest. Increase the power of your mirror sessions by placing a hand on that area and taking a deep breath every time you utter your new reality in the form of a positive affirmation.
5. Also optional, but very powerful: get an affirmation partner. A judgment-free friend, colleague, cousin or anyone with whom you feel safe can act as a witness to your declarations of self-worth. You can always return the favor, right?
Do the work—you’ll never regret it!
Didn’t your mom tell you that everything worthwhile in life requires time, dedication and focus? Affirming your self-worth could be the most important thing you do for yourself during your lifetime.
Think of driving those negative thoughts out of your brain—especially after a lifetime of accepting those criticisms—as your personal exorcism. It’s the gift you give yourself and it’s as powerful as anything you’ll experience now or in the future.