“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
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.
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?
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.
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. 😉
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!
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?
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”
But, hey, do they even work?
Can Positive Affirmations Help Your Mindset?
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)
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 ;).
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
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
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!
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!
3. Create Personal Affirmations
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.
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!
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,
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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