I’m going to just be upfront with you. I’ve been through some rotten changes in my life over the past few years, and it’s rocked my self-esteem.
This isn’t to elicit a pity party in the least. It’s a confession I am making to anyone who may be in the same boat I am at the moment.
That being said, I think it’s high time I (or we, if you would like to take this challenge with me) to make life a lot more enjoyable. The thing is, life is what you make it.
I am guilty of having ‘let’ life happen to me in the past. Day in and day out, I would live the same day over again, hoping that something miraculous would happen that would make life incredible somehow. I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing until recently.
I’ve slowly started to realize that I have more power over my life than I give myself credit for. If I want to have better days, I can. I just have to change the way I see the world around me.
That’s what led me to affirmations. Sometimes, it takes a little time to learn new ways of living. You just don’t know what you don’t know. So I took to Google to find some ways to help me transform my thinking.
Here’s what Google had to say. First, it sent me to a website called Ananda.org where I found one of the best definitions for affirmations I’ve read so far:
“An affirmation is a statement of truth which one aspires to absorb into his life.”
The site also emphasizes the fact that affirmations are very practical. They have nothing to do with wishful thinking.
The next place I landed was this article on mindtools.com which I found extraordinarily helpful. The article was thorough. But if you aren’t sure you’re interested in reading it, I had some profound takeaways from it.
Let’s run through some of them.
Let’s start with negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is something we are all guilty of. It’s the self-deprecating ideas we have about ourselves after we’ve scrolled through Instagram or locked our keys in our car or whatever.
It never occurred to me that I should associate affirmations with nullifying the effects of thinking negatively. Take negative thoughts out of the equation by replacing them with positive ones.
But this isn’t something you’ll reap the benefits of after doing it once. Repetition unlocks the power of affirmations. It has a lot to do with the habit of thinking certain thoughts.
I’m sure you’ve heard about how powerful our thoughts are. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” is an Old Testament scripture in the Bible that many people have taken as truth.
Our thoughts are a direct correlation to our beliefs. What a person believes about themselves or their circumstances is tantamount to a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s why if we can change our thoughts, we can ultimately change our outcomes.
That’s where repetition comes in. The more you repeat an affirmation to yourself, the more it stays present in the forefront of your mind. Meditating on those positive thoughts over time, instinctually penetrates your belief system.
Another positive quality to note about affirmations is that can also work to reduce stress. In one study, a short affirmation exercise boosted the problem-solving abilities of ‘chronically stressed’ subjects to the same level as those with low stress.
It’s also good to use affirmations to cope with negative thoughts right as they happen — every time they happen.
There are some self-defeating thoughts I have often throughout the day like, “Goodness, I’m slow sometimes.” Or “I’m such an idiot.”
I’m mostly kidding, but over time it affects my self-esteem. The power of affirmations also lies in your commitment to combatting your negative thoughts every time they pop in to say hello.
That being said, let’s discuss how to write an effective affirmation.
- Take a minute and think about areas of your life (or yourself) that you’d like to change and write those down.
- Turn any negatives into positives. This is just flipping a negative thought on its head. I find this part to be the most intentional and therapeutic part of writing out affirmations. To make this clear, you pick something like, “My nose is too big for my face” and replace it with “My nose fits perfectly on my face”. I would probably go a step farther with it and say, “My nose is the best feature on my face.” The whole point is to knock the negative out of the water.
- Make it personal and say it with feeling. This means to use words like “I” and “Me” when writing out your affirmation. Make it something that you struggle with. There are a lot of generic affirmations out there like “I am successful” or “I am worthy”. Those are beautiful, but the most effective affirmation for you is the one that is most closely related to you. Saying it with feeling will only be possible if you’ve taken the time to dig in and make it personal. Once you do that, it’s about aligning your heart and soul to what you’re saying. It may seem weird, but it’s a refreshing feeling to say something positive like that to yourself with confidence. So, put a little oomph in it when you say it!
- Use the present tense. This is self-explanatory. You want to say it or write it at the moment you’re in — as if it has already happened and IS happening to you now.
- Align with your values. You want to be writing things down that align with your core values so that there is a strong sense of self associated with it. This will help motivate you to continue using the affirmations to move you forward.
- Make it practical. You want to be thinking of things that are ambitious, but not unattainable. Try to reach out of your comfort zone, but don’t go overboard. Another great quote from the mindtools.com article explains why this concept is so important:
“Affirmations are not magic spells-if you can’t believe in them, it’s unlikely they’ll impact your life.”
I told you earlier that I would share the 3 negative thoughts I wanted to combat with affirmations. So as promised, here are the three thoughts, along with the positive replacement thoughts I plan to use every day:
- Negative Thought #1: I am not a good enough writer to accomplish anything of value for other people.
- Replacement Thought #1: I am an excellent writer, and I have written lots of content that is extraordinarily valuable to everyone who reads it.
- Negative Thought #2: I finish nothing, it’s just part of my personality.
- Replacement Thought #2: I never bail on myself or my dreams, that’s one of my best qualities.
- Negative Thought #3: I can’t control my sugar cravings. I don’t have what I need to get healthy and stay that way.
- Replacement Thought #3: I am in complete control of what I do and don’t consume. I have everything I need to maintain my already thriving health.
I realize these are a little cheesy, but for me, it is something that will kick my negative vibes in the butt. I want the same thing for you!
Write them down in a notebook, on sticky notes, on your phone or wherever you know you’ll look at them. Then commit to saying them out loud every day and see how you feel.