What Are Affirmations? Why Do I Need to Practice Them?
Practicing affirmations has changed my life for the better. Today, I hope to impart a bit of background knowledge to help you begin your own meditation practice!
Let’s start with the basics.
Affirmations are statements we tell ourselves to change our thinking around a concept or idea.
For affirmations to be effective, they are always positive, personal, and specific.
We can think of practicing affirmations as self-talk. Sending your negative messages to your brain through self-talk will only result in more negativity in your life.
On the other hand, positive self-talk (affirmations) train our brains to see opportunities in all areas of life. Affirmations boost self-confidence, productivity, discipline, mental health, and even physical health.
Practicing Affirmations and Growth Mindset
A brain that is well fed with positive self-talk will be more open to taking risks. It is also more apt to learn new things and seek new experiences, even if the fear of failure is present.
This way of thinking is often referred to as having a growth mindset.
People who regularly engage in negative self-talk are more likely to stick to bad habits, avoid risk, and stay within their comfort zones. They are immobilized by the fear of failure.
These types of people have what is called a closed mindset.
Mindset in Action
Practicing affirmations bridges the gap between closed mindset and growth mindset. Let’s look at an example.
Lucy wants to achieve a healthy weight, as many of us do. She has yo-yo dieted for years, only to end up more out of shape than ever.
Lucy has never been at her ideal weight. Going to the gym is a terrifying idea for her because she doesn’t want anyone to see her exercising.
Here are some messages that closed-mindset Lucy regularly feeds her brain:
“You’ll never be thin, so why even try?”
“You’re disgusting. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
“It’s no wonder celebrities are thin. They have personal chefs and personal trainers. I don’t.”
“Everyone will be looking at me if I go to the gym. I can’t go there.”
“I don’t even know where to start.”
Sound familiar? I know I’ve had a few similar conversations with my own brain.
Closed-mindset thinking is affecting Lucy’s life because her self-talk is negative and based on fear. Her brain is making excuses rather than looking for opportunities.
You see, the mind is the greatest weapon we can bring to any battle. In fact, it is 90% of most fights we are fighting!
When we can get our minds to honestly believe something, the body will follow. That is the power of practicing affirmations.
Choosing Positive Self-Talk
Here are some affirmations Lucy could use to replace her negative self-talk:
“I can achieve anything I set my mind on.”
“I am a beautiful, loving, powerful human being. Today and every day, I love myself.”
“The opinions of others do not matter. I am on this journey for ME and MY health.”
“I have everything I need to be the healthiest version of myself.”
“TODAY, I will choose to make healthy decisions.”
“Nothing is impossible for me. My goals are realistic and within my reach.”
Which version of Lucy do you think made steps to adopt a healthy lifestyle?
What Affirmations Are Not
I want you to notice that practicing affirmations is not a form of delusion. Affirmations are not lies and are always based on truth.
An acceptable affirmation would not be,
“I am a pop star, and I live in a mansion in the Hills.”
While we can do mindset work around future-casting and visualizing, the daily practice of affirmations should be done in the present tense.
They are rooted in what is true TODAY. When we center ourselves in truth instead of negative feelings, we see things clearly.
The Science of Practicing Affirmations
When affirmations are practiced regularly, they begin to make pathways in your brain. Yes, the messages in your brain make LITERAL neurologic pathways for more rapid movement through your mind.
That is to say, the more you practice an affirmation, the easier it is for your brain to recognize it as truth!
We all have negative beliefs about ourselves that plague us at all times. Why is that? It is most likely because we have been telling our brains these negative messages for years on end. Now your mind readily accepts these lies as the truth.
Affirmations are not some willy-nilly, pie-in-the-sky, hippie practice. They literally change how we interact with the world around us by transforming the way we think.
Benefits of a Practicing Affirmations
People who regularly practice affirmations experience less stress, which is a huge health benefit.
Stress is related to all kinds of physical and mental health issues, but meditating on affirmations can reduce the risk of stress-related health problems.
When we are engaging in positive self-talk, it is less natural to spend as much time worrying or ruminating over problems. We free up space in our brains to see positive outcomes and opportunities.
Your Daily Practice
Beginning a regular affirmation practice is simple. Set aside 5-10 minutes in your day to sit quietly and meditate on an affirmation of your choice.
There are many affirmations to choose from that address different areas of life, so make sure to choose one that resonates with you.
RELATED: 100 Affirmations for Your Daily Practice
You may choose to write down the affirmation and spend a few minutes journaling about it. Perhaps you prefer to light some candles, put on some zen music, and meditate deeply.
To extend your affirmation practice throughout your day, memorize your affirmation and repeat it each hour. You could also write it down on a sticky note to put in your car or in your workplace.
The most important thing is to make your practice work for you!
If you’re looking for a resource, grab this great e-book with over 1,000 affirmations.
Writing Your Own Affirmations
To make your practice more powerful and personal, try writing your own affirmations!
The first step is to write down every negative, limiting belief you have about yourself. Be thorough and thoughtful.
Releasing our negative self-talk onto paper can feel like airing dirty laundry. But it is a freeing and rewarding process.
Once you have jotted down all of your negative beliefs, it’s time to respond to them with an affirmation.
Each affirmation should address a specific limiting belief.
Limiting belief: I’m a disorganized mess, and I will never get my life together.
Affirmation: Organization is a skill I can learn with time and practice. My life is what I make it, and I choose to make it beautiful.
Limiting belief: Even if I work hard, Nothing in my life will ever change.
Affirmation: I am a change-maker. Anything I put my mind to, I can achieve.
Limiting belief: I am not worthy of love.
Affirmation: I am a precious and worthy human being. I deserve light, love, happiness, and joy.
Make It Work For You
Remember to practice affirmations in a way that brightens your day and brings you joy. Do not make it an area of pressure in your life. If you feel stressed, do less. Make it simpler! However you feel comfortable and uplifted in your practice, do more of that!
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