3 Things Everyone Should Know About Positive Affirmations

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3 Things Everyone Should Know About Positive Affirmations Title Graphic. In the background we see the silhouette of a woman standing on a dock, facing away from the camera and looking out at the water

Hello Lovelies:

“I can totally do this! I’m brilliant, I’m creative and I am capable of rocking it hard!”

Ever repeated something like that to yourself? I know I have! That’s a type of positive affirmation. And, according to some, they’re the best thing since sliced bread when you need an inspirational boost.

There are tons of ways to use these sweet little phrases. They’re meant to shift your mindset, uplift your spirit, inspire you, help you achieve your goals and a ton more goodness. That’s a heck of a lot of boxes to check!

But do positive affirmations even work? Is this the wonderful self-love secret it claims to be?

Let’s find out! Together we’re breaking down what positive affirmations are (and what they aren’t) and how to get the most out of them.

Ready to dive in? Here we go…

Why You Should Work On Your Mindset

Someone sits on a dock, back facing the camera, and stares out at the water and mountains

Positive mantras and affirmations and meant to help create a positive mindset. So before we even take a peek at what positive affirmations can and can’t do, let’s talk about why mindset even matters in the first place.

I’m probably not blowing anyone’s mind with this one, but developing a positive attitude is pretty good for you.

But, like, how good is it really?

According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking:

  • Increases your life span
  • Reduces depression and distress
  • Boosts your immune health
  • Supports mental and physical well-being
  • Benefits your cardiovascular health
  • Makes it easier to cope with stress

Even cooler, positive thinking affects our brain’s ability to see possibilities. When you’re feeling positive it feels like a lot more is possible.

A woman stands outside, tilts her head up towards the sky, closes her eyes and smiles.

Related: The Power of Positive Thinking And 5 Tips to Help You Get There

Negative thinking kind of causes our brain to zoom in. It’s our minds way of helping us out by paying attention to the situation at hand and working to find a solution. Laser focus baby! (Thank you brain.)

But when you’re in a positive state of mind your brain is able to zoom out and see more possibilities.

Want an example?

A woman stands outside watchign the sun set. Her back is to the camera and her arms are out as if she's going to spin around with joy

Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, conducted a study where she and her team took at peek at the effects of positive thinking on our mindset.

People involved in the study were divided into five groups and exposed to film clips that would elicit an emotional response. Afterwards they were asked to write down what they would do if they were feeling the same feelings they witnessed in the clip.

Those who envisioned a positive state of mind had a ton more to say. They felt like there were a lot more options available to them. Positive thinking worked it’s magic! (source)

Know that that doesn’t mean you have to be miss or mister positivity all the time.

A woman leans against a tree. She's wearing a touque with thepositive affirmations "Do what you love"

I mean, that’s impossible. Every emotion serves a purpose. Even the not so positive ones. And, no matter what, we’re going to feel good and bad feelings throughout life. Totally normal!

We gotta feel the feels as they find us. Suppressing emotions can have some pretty dire consequences. We’re looking at an increased risk of ailments like heart disease and even cancer (source).

So just work through things as they come! It’s much better for you. 😉

A woman sits on a chair, legs bent and arms curled around them. She looks at the camera with a sad expression.

If you want to make positive thinking a habit get ready to accept and work through those negative emotions when they find you. Variety is the spice of life gorgeous, even emotional variety.

Also, there is absolutely no shame in seeking help when you need it. We never have to go it alone. Whether you need the support of a friend or family member or a more neutral perspective and seek counselling, you are totally rocking it!

Related: 6 Fantastic Tips On How to Reduce Stress from Psychiatrists

Now that we know what the big deal about mindset is, let’s see what positive affirmations can do for us…

What Even Is A Positive Affirmation?

A woman leans on a mirror and stares down at her reflection.

Positive affirmations are simple statements meant to help build a positive mindset. Many of us use them to challenge negative self-talk, inspire ourselves, help with our goals or simply remind us that we are awesome and capable of magic.

They can be used whenever, wherever. (Why do I suddenly have Shakira in my head?!)

But seriously, you can do pretty much whatever you want with positive affirmations. Make it yours boo! Whether you’re speaking them to yourself, writing them down in your journal, thinking them or reading them as they pop up on your phone (thank goodness for reminders, eh?)

There’s tons of options out there, but they usually look a little like this:

“I love and respect myself”

“I’m creative and inspirational”

“I believe in myself”

More examples here, here, and here)

But, hey, do they even work?

Can Positive Affirmations Help Your Mindset?

A woman wears headphones and looks down at the phone she's holding, smiling.

Yes. No. Maybe.

“Hey Sara! Those are all three options girl. Pick one!”

Why thank you for pointing that out mon ami. I want to! I really do. Simplifying things and breaking down their awesomeness for our health is kind of my thing.

But, the truth of the matter is that positive affirmations are a little complicated. They can work wonders. For certain people. And yet, for others, they don’t do a thing. Even worse, they can make some people feel bad.

What’s the deal with that?

Basically, if your self-esteem is generally high positive affirmations will make you feel good. Which is flipping awesome for you. Go for it. Affirm away sugar!

But if your self-esteem is low those affirmations may backfire and leave you feeling worse. Total bummer! (source)

A man stands against a wall and stares at the camera, hand over his mouth.

Sadly, when your self-esteem is low, positive affirmations can sometimes cause you to start thinking of contradictory statements, making you feel down. (source 1, source 2)

So, for example, if you’re telling yourself “I am super flipping awesome” your mind might start questioning it… and that affirmation basically turns into “I super, duper suck.”

Not exactly what we were going for, eh?

Ultimately, positive affirmations are a catch 22. If you try them and you find they’re making you feel worse then maybe they aren’t for you. And that’s ok. (Don’t worry – there are other ways to work on your mindset. You aren’t stuck <3)

And hey – if that’s the case, they’re always something you can come back to when you find yourself in a better place. Positive affirmations aren’t going anywhere ;).

Related: How to Practice Gratitude and Feel Awesome

3 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Positive Affirmations

Now that we know what positive affirmations are and who they work best for let’s talk about how to get the most out of them. Because it might not be as easy peasy as you think!

1. Choose Believable Affirmations

A woman stands in front of a gate, looking off to the side smiling. Behind the gate are beautiful red flowers and trees.

Affirmations work better if you are inclined to believe them! Repeat something too unbelievable or grandiose to yourself and you’re more likely to dismiss them. Or start thinking about why the exact opposite might be true. Which kind of nullifies the affirmation. (source)

Think for a minute about the positive affirmation you choose to repeat to yourself. Does it feel right for you? Or do you find yourself disagreeing with it?

If it’s not right, choose a different one. The best thing about affirmations is they don’t have feelings. You can’t hurt them if you choose to move on to a different one! Booyah!

2. Try Talking In The Third Person

A man stands outside, puts in his headphones and smiles with his eyes closed.

When you see mantras and affirmations on the interwebs they usually look a little like this:

“I am confident and lovable”

And hey! That’s all well and good. If it’s working for ya, awesome!

But it turns out that there might be a better way…

According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, positive affirmations are more successful at reducing stress and anxiety when they’re spoken in the second or third person. (source)

Bonus points if you use your name while repeating your mantra!

A woman sits crossed legged and rests her head on her hand. She's laughing and smiling.

Ethan Koss, one of the study’s researchers, found that we are more likely to give ourselves support and advice (and feel better) if we use our own name in our affirmations.

Basically, it seems like talking to yourself this way allows a little self-distancing. Which means that you’re basically taking a step back and observing things like an outsider. Researchers think that this let’s us recognize qualities we haven’t noticed.

And second or third person affirmations may even silence our negative self-talk for a hot minute, since we’re looking at things from a new, outside perspective.

So “Sara, you are confident and lovable” might work a heck of a lot better than “I am confident and lovable”. I mean, unless your name isn’t Sara. But you get me!

Related: 4 Excellent Stress Relieving Activities To Try Right Now

3. Create Personal Affirmations

A few items sit on a desk, all with words or positive affirmations. This includes a plate that says "Hello Gorgeous," a name plate that says "like a boss" and a pencil that says "wink wink."

Remember how I said that affirmations work better if you actually believe in them? Well, the best way to do that is to come up with your own personal affirmations!

This is actually a method that psychologist David Sarwer, clinical director at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, uses with his patients. (source)

When you create a personal mantra you really tap into something special. It’s yours! And since it’s tailored towards you it can work a lot more wonders. We are all so beautifully unique. Our positive affirmations are far more powerful when they reflect that.

How can you create a personal mantra?

Take a look at yourself in the mirror. What’s something you adore about your appearance? Do you have a cute little nose? A fantastic booty? Beautiful dimples? You can give yourself a nice self-esteem boost by reminding yourself of how gorgeous, powerful and adorable that amazing body of yours is.

But personal mantras don’t have to be all about your physical appearance.

A woman stands outside in a field of wheat and smiles. She's looking off to the side to something off camera.

You can also focus on your strengths, character traits you love about yourself or things you want to work towards. And even use affirmations as an opportunity to give yourself a pep talk or boost.

How can you use your personal mantras?

  • Write down things you adore about yourself or personal goals you believe you can achieve
  • Say your affirmations out loud
  • Display them in places you’ll see them
  • Make them into little reminders that pop up on your phone
  • Mix and match and do whatever feels best

Basically, create your own personal mantras and then develop a system that works for you. There’s no one right way to use positive affirmations. You do you darling!

Final Thoughts

A woman stands outside, surrounded by beautiful green plants. She looks off to the side, laughing and smiling.

Positive affirmations can be an amazing form of self-love and self-care for some of us. But they aren’t for everyone! What a powerful reminder to do what’s right for you. Just because something’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone, and that’s ok.

If affirmations make you feel good that’s fantastic! If they don’t, that’s fine. There are other options out there sweet friend.

In fact… strangely enough, I have an affirmation for those of us who don’t benefit from positive mantras:

“You will let go of the things that don’t serve you.”

See what I did there? It’s in the third person. There’s room for your name! It’s believable. And, if positive affirmations aren’t for you, it’s there to help you let go.

Maybe it’s a paradox. But hey, I’m a huge nerd, so I’m kind of excited about it!

(I giggled about this paradox situation as I wrote it. I just wanted you to know that!)

Your turn – do you use positive affirmations? Are you planning on giving them a go? Surprised by anything you learned with me today? Share your lovely thoughts in the comments below.

Health and love,

sara-signature

Thought of the Day: You never have to do everything. Build a lifestyle that makes you feel awesome and you’re golden.

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Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

Sara Flanagan is a wellness writer and the creator of www.mshealthesteem.com, where she shares her story of being diagnosed with Graves Disease, a chronic autoimmune disease, and empowering herself to do everything she can to thrive in spite of her diagnosis. She writes articles on self-love, acceptance, wellness and nutrition. Join the Health-Esteem Family today and share in the journey.

61 Comments

  1. Reply

    geekydaddydave

    March 1, 2019

    Since I started writing professionally, I have noticed my writing is far more creative when I am in a positive state of mind than otherwise.

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      That’s wonderful to hear Dave! It really does help to put us into a positive, creative space. I’m glad that you’ve found a happy groove and I hope you continue to have a wonderful time writing 🙂

  2. Reply

    Yuyu

    March 1, 2019

    What an interesting topic to write about. What I particularly like about positive affirmations, it’ll spread to people you interact with and you’ll be able to build a healthier relationship with other people.

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      Aww I love that you highlighted that Yuyu! It’s so true :). Our state of mind can be very contagious. Goodness begets more goodness. It’s a wonderful thing!

  3. Reply

    Rosemary

    March 2, 2019

    Love the originality of your post. Especially when you suggest that we keep our affirmations believable. I struggle with it every time I see statements that just don’t relate or seem real to me. So yeah, I love the flexibility suggested in this post. Cheers.

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      I’m really happy to hear that Rosemary! When it comes to lifestyle and self-care activities that work, there is no one size fits all. It’s so important that we feel inspired to create something that works for our own beautifully unique wants and needs :). I hope you have fun creating affirmations that work for you (if that’s what you wish to do <3). Sending you tons of love!

  4. Reply

    C. Janelle Fulmore

    March 2, 2019

    You just blew my mind! This is very in line with how I feel but to see it backed up in a simple way does wonders for my coaching techniques, I genuinely thank you.

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      I’m glad to hear that Janelle! Thank you! I’m really glad this has helped you with your coaching techniques too. That makes my day <3. Wishing you a magnificent day ^^

  5. Reply

    notquitesupermommn

    March 2, 2019

    I love reading your encouraging words. I walk away feeling light and happy, like I just had coffee with a friend 🙂 I personally love positive affirmations, but I love how you point out that everything isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. Wonderful post, Sara! <3 PS – thanks for the ear worm, lol…I might need to go dance it out in my kitchen after I get done writing this comment 😉

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      You are the sweetest ever Nicole! Thank you! I am so happy to hear that. That’s always my goal. Also – I adore you. I wish we could have a coffee date!

      Also – kitchen dance parties are the absolutely best! I hope you did treat yourself to one ^^. I may very well do the same in a hot minute!

  6. Reply

    Elisha

    March 3, 2019

    A few of these affirmations well come in handy. I’m a huge believer of affirmations…I use them often and they really do work.

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      I’m really glad they work so well for you Elisha! That’s flipping wonderful :). Anything that makes us feel awesome is the absolute best ^^

  7. Reply

    Blogashopper by Natasha Lalwani

    March 4, 2019

    you have nailed it in this blog by stating the most important thing while chanting affirmations which is having a positive mindset. Very well written blog:)

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      You’re so kind Natasha! Thank you :). I’m so thankful for your kind words and really happy you enjoyed it. <3 Sending tons of love your way!

  8. Reply

    Maryann Auger | Mani Fitness

    March 4, 2019

    II loved this blog post! I learned a few things which is why I love your blog so much. It’s always packed with so much wonderful information and I can always sense the love you put into your posts <3

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      Aww thank you tons Maryann! Your friendship, love and support mean the world to me. I am so grateful! Thank you tons and tons <3.

  9. Reply

    joleisa

    March 5, 2019

    Thanks for the very thoughtful post x

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      So glad you enjoyed it Joleisa! <3 Thank you

  10. Reply

    CherishingFlo

    March 5, 2019

    These are actually some great tips and I’m glad somebody recognizes how it’s genuinely not for everyone!!!

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      Absolutely Flo! We are all so beautiful unique and our lifestyle and the self-care we indulge in needs to be just as unique as we are. There is no one size fits all :). You do you! That’s what’s best ^^

  11. Reply

    Jumpstart Positivity

    March 5, 2019

    Thanks for sharing these tips! There’s a lot of hype and misinformation out there about what positive affirmations can and can’t do for you. You’re right that it really comes done to finding what works for YOU (especially with creating personalized mantras), then being consistent with using them by including them in your daily routine. This is going to help a lot of people improve their mindset! <3

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      I’m really happy to hear that you enjoyed them! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I think it’s so important everyone feel inspired to create something that works for them. We are all so beautiful unique! It’s important we create something as wonderful and unique as we are <3.

  12. Reply

    Caylin Delaroy

    March 5, 2019

    I think as I have gotten older I have been better about telling myself positive affirmations to get through hard tasks. I think the 3 strategies you listed above about how to choose and do affirmations is a nice reminder.

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      It’s wonderful that this works well for you Caylin! Discovering the self-care activities that work for us and make us feel awesome is so important. I’m glad these tips were good reminders <3. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!

  13. Reply

    Katy Malkin

    March 5, 2019

    Love it! Saying them out loud is definitely important too.

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      It really does help Katy! I feel the same way :). Thank you for sharing your tip with us!

  14. Reply

    Sasha

    March 6, 2019

    This is awesome!! I give myself third person pep talks all the time! Thanks for this great post!

    • Reply

      Sara

      April 10, 2019

      Sweet! I do the same thing too Sasha! Those third person pep talks are total lifesavers sometimes :). Thank you!

  15. Reply

    Ben

    October 27, 2020

    I need to work on my positivity and affirmations. I get so stressed that it’s easy for me to get really down.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with stress Ben! It’s not a fun feeling at all. You definitely aren’t alone. And I hope so much that you find some activities that help. You deserve it! <3 Sending good vibes your way!

  16. Reply

    Surekha

    October 27, 2020

    I am a huge believer in the power of positivity and being your own best friend. I think everyone should read this and practice more affirmations.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      I think we all deserve a positive and loving relationship with ourselves too! I think that inspires us to create a self-care routine that works for us, including whatever activities make us feel best <3. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  17. Reply

    kileen

    October 28, 2020

    Being a good person and having positive thoughts will drastically change your life! Having solid affirmations are so powerful!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      I love that positive affirmations have such a positive impact on you Kileen! That’s fantastic!

  18. Reply

    Gervin Khan

    October 28, 2020

    Such an incredible article to read, it’s very detail and informative. It tackles everything, the good and the bad effects. Everybody should consider this and assess one’s self for us to control or maintain our development.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      Thank you so much Gervin! I learned so much researching for this one. It really is so interesting and complex! And, like with everything, positive affirmations work great for some of us and not so great for others. I think it’s so important we try things, take what works and leave what doesn’t behind. We all deserve a self-care routine that makes sense for us.

  19. Reply

    Mow

    October 28, 2020

    I really do believe positivity starts from within and positive affirmations are a great way to help achieve this. I love the level of detail you have gone in to your post. I think we should not be so hard on ourselves all the time. Life has its ups and downs and this is what makes it rewarding.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      I love how you mentioned the importance of not being so hard on yourself. That’s such an important act of self-kindness and we all truly deserve that. It can make a world of difference. Thank you so much for sharing!

  20. Reply

    Marie

    October 28, 2020

    You are absolutely right that positive affirmations are complex and our reactions can be very different. Even individuals can have a great response on one day and a negative on the next.
    And you also right that when difficulties come up in life we need to take care of them immediately. We have to keep toxins out of our body, which is so much more than physical. Emotional toxicity can be worse than physical.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      Heck yes Marie! Our mental and emotion health matters so much. And it’s so important we prioritize would mental well-being and tap into whatever self-care, support and help we need. I love this message! Thank you so much for sharing it with us <3

  21. Reply

    Matt Taylor

    October 28, 2020

    Positive affirmations indeed help me. But I totally understand the catch 22 of it. Sometimes when I use positive affirmations, I second guess it, and past experiences are drudged back up, which indeed has a negative effect. But for me, they are mostly positive.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      That’s fantastic Matt! And I think it’s great that you’re so aware of when it does and doesn’t work with you. Being connected with ourselves enough to know when something isn’t working really helps us turn things around and find a better direction. With affirmations, this can help you avoid the ones that don’t help. That’s fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing that with us 🙂

  22. Reply

    Yudith

    October 28, 2020

    I love reading your inspiring words. This is encourage me to feel happy. Thank you

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      Oh thank you so much Yudith! That’s such a beautiful thing to say! I’m so happy my words uplift you. Yours have certainly uplifted me 🙂

  23. Reply

    Angela Ricardo Bethea

    October 28, 2020

    Saying positive things to yourself can go a long way. Taking care of one’s mental health is important and this post has been quite an amazing read and those are some great points and reminders for everyone

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      Thank you so much Angela! There truly is no health without mental health, so doing whatever we can to prioritize and care for our mental well-being is so important. I’m happy you think so too <3

  24. Reply

    Vera Ida

    October 28, 2020

    Positive affirmations are the best way for us to work towards building healthy self-esteem. Pessimism is harsh and a waste of time. Affirmations are a great way for you to reaffirm to yourself that you may feel, which lead to positive action, that will lead to a positive life.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      Positive affirmations certainly don’t work for everyone, but for those they help they help a lot! I’m glad that they help you create a positive life <3. That's marvelous!

  25. Reply

    Ntensibe Edgar

    October 29, 2020

    Oh yes, positive affirmations do work and they exist, in all forms and kinds. I use them all the time and they keep me contained, with much less anxiety. I highly recommend everyone gets to make use of them.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      I’m really happy they work for you Ntensibe! We all deserve to find self-care activities that work for us and make us feel awesome. That’s what matters most. 🙂

  26. Reply

    Mayuri

    October 29, 2020

    I love positive affirmations and I make sure that I write them on my bullet journal. It keeps me motivated and content.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      That’s awesome Mayuri! I love that you have a routine that makes you feel awesome. We all deserve that <3. Enjoy your next bullet journaling session!

  27. Reply

    Trisha Velarmino

    November 2, 2020

    I am a firm believer of positive affirmations. I even have notes printed around the house for when I am forgetting to be centered (or to meditate). LOL. Thank you for sharing some positive things today! It really makes me happy that some people (like you) are awake when it comes to things like this!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      November 19, 2020

      Oh I love that you have a self-care routine that includes affirmations and works so well for you! That’s fantastic Trisha :). And thank you so much for your kind words <3. It makes my day!

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