Why Positive Affirmations and Mantras Work

What do your daily thoughts consist of? If you haven’t been paying attention, you should.

Sherry Chapman
Feb 15 · 6 min read
Did ever grow anything in the Garden of your Mind?
You can grow ideas
In the Garden of your mind (Mister Rogers) Photo source: SChapman

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.

Napoleon Hill

I’ve read and heard amazing stories of people who have achieved success by transforming their thinking, adopting mantras, and spoken affirmations. I have experienced success from it myself.

Although I’ve used it in my own life, I have woefully neglected practicing it with regularity.

I sat myself down and examined the thoughts playing and replaying in my mind. Many of them were discouraging and pessimistic, and that’s when I realized why affirmations work so well.

I’ve concluded the reason success and happiness seem so elusive is in part a result of the thoughts to support those positive elements are indeed elusive themselves.

If we create an environment in our mind and with our mouth that consists of positive components, our lives will follow them just like a moth to a flame.

I started paying attention to the negative narrative I kept replaying over and over in my head. Day after day, same thought patterns. I knew if I was going to think and speak positively, I would have to do it on purpose.

A moment of pondering and reflecting. Source: SChapman

“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”
James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

What about you? Have you taken inventory of the thoughts running through your mind? Many will be fleeting thoughts, but some will be stories playing over and over and over again, day in and day out.

How positive are those thoughts you keep dwelling on every day?

What is the movie playing over and over in your mind? Source: SChapman

I took stock of mine and they were all downers! Depressing! Here is a peek into a few of the thoughts circling around in my mind each day:

  1. I am sad my sister is estranged from my family. It feels like a death. I am resentful that she holds all the power over the choice to not speak to me.
  2. I haven’t saved enough money for the retirement I have hoped for. I worry there’s not enough time nor money to get where I need to be.
  3. My mom is getting weaker and weaker due to degenerative, age-related disorders with each month that goes by. How much longer can I take care of her unassisted? What is going to happen to her?
  4. What happened to my friendships? I haven’t heard from Gina in a while, should I text her again? Is this the beginning of the end of our friendship? (I wrote a post on the declining condition of my friendships, you can read it here.)
  5. Should I go to the doctor about this sore throat I’m having? Is it something I need to be concerned about? I’m worried because the remedies I’ve tried haven’t worked.

I realized the same negative, worrisome thoughts replaying in my brain were all negative in nature. Either worrisome, fatalistic, or discouraging.

Why does it seem so easy to dwell on the negative emotions, events, and situations in our lives?

We wonder why we stay in a worried state. We wake up agitated and go to sleep fearful. It doesn’t take much to know this is not an optimal way to live.

With the passing of each day, we can start anew. Source: SChapman

So, how do we rewrite the script?

We must arrest those thoughts, the gloomy moods, the dread from the what-ifs. If we’ll pull them out of the shadows and expose them to the light, we can change the narrative and thus change our path and our life.

Take note of the prominent thoughts playing over and over during your day. Write them down. Track them for a week or longer.

They will either be repetitive thoughts or will follow a pattern of emotion. For example, looking at some of the thoughts I shared above, I can gather the fear of ending up alone is noticeable. You may be able to identify a common fear or emotion by identifying the things troubling your mind, as well.

What we need to do is reverse those thoughts and turn them into positive affirmations. Replace the bad with the good.

If your bad thoughts involve a failing relationship, write down a few sentences that declare positive things about this relationship, instead. If illness or your health plagues your mind, jot down several statements that convey the opposite of illness. You may discover worries over success or your purpose in life (or supposed lack of one) have you disheartened and fretful. Write a paragraph that describes you with purpose, accomplishment, and victory. Read that paragraph out loud five times a day, if necessary.

Do you see what we’re doing here? We’re taking the negative thoughts we’ve embedded in our brain and flipping it around. By identifying the negative emotion, we can use its opposite to defeat it and remove its power.

I have reminders popping up on my phone every day (every couple of hours) that vary with statements for me to speak aloud. Statements about myself, about my prosperity, my good health, my abundant relationships, and more.

Some of my mantras are taken from scriptures from the Bible. Others are affirmations beginning with, “I AM…”.

A New Day Has Come (song by Celine Dion) Photo source: SChapman

If my thoughts revolve around a fear of being alone, I will create affirmations and confessions that declare a life for me not based on fear. I’ll repeat statements that describe me as experiencing joy, satisfaction, even contentment with leading a solitary life. Those statements will also include assertations that when the time is right, I will be surrounded by family and friends who love me and want to be around me.

If health concerns are dominating my thoughts, I will make reminders consisting of statements such as, “I AM experiencing good health, I AM strong, I AM full of life and vigor.” Notice the emphasis on the words “I AM.”

I know positive affirmations and mantras work because I’ve relied on them in the past. Why did I stop if they work so well? That is a very good question. I believe it’s human nature when circumstances are going well, to take things for granted and get lazy in doing the things we know we should do.

Floating down the river, resting on my good fortune and blessings worked for a little while, but soon the default mode slid back in. Doubts and fears began to dominate my waking hours, and I was back into survival mode.

I believe that is true for all of us. For whatever reason, and some personalities have it even harder, we tend toward the negative in our thinking and speech. Worry affects us all, and when it takes a hold it morphs into its offspring — discouragement, fear, dread, etc.

Therefore, I hope you can take some time this week to get quiet and look inside to the storyline you’ve been reciting. If you uncover and reveal less than savory thoughts, as I did, I know affirmations will transform your life.

Affirmations. They don’t cost anything. Use them, live by them, and watch your life take a turn for the better.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +424,678 people.

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Sherry Chapman

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Writer, animal lover, traveler, caregiver and seeking the unconventional life in bits and pieces.

The Startup

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