You know how some offices or waiting rooms have those black-framed pictures on the walls with uplifting sayings, usually about achievement, teamwork, optimism or leadership? Well, those positive messages, although they may sometimes seem a little cliché, are actually very useful. When used properly, positive affirmations are more than just cute quotes and inspiring sayings. They are proven to put us more in control of our thoughts and ultimately help us achieve more success and happiness.
How do affirmations work?
Positive affirmations are spoken statements, usually repeated, that imprint these messages in our minds to encourage and strengthen us. Our self-affirmations have a direct impact on our conscious and subconscious minds, which in turn influence our general thoughts, moods and emotions. In other words, positive self-talk is essential for us to feel fulfilled and happy. The research on self-affirmations is still growing, but it is generally agreed that “Repeated use of affirmations in a meditative state can help to rewrite messages—but only if an individual is ready and willing to manifest positive change.” Think of our self-affirmations more like a shield against information or events that threaten us; the bad stuff can’t get through because the good stuff is stronger. Kind of like a Jedi force, but without the lightsabers.
Affirming to ourselves our worth, success, good fortune, happiness, health, energy and other positive areas of our lives makes us feel more positive and affects the way we think. In our work lives, for example, using affirmations help us gain better insight into our career goals, relationships with coworkers or bosses, or our skills and aptitudes. It’s no surprise that if we tell ourselves that today is going to be a bad day, or that we can’t do anything right, we end up meeting with negative experiences. However, when we tell ourselves we are smart, happy and capable, we will enjoy positive moments and be more fulfilled.
Surrounding ourselves with positivity
When thinking back on various mountaineering excursions when things have gone a little haywire, my self-affirmations were critical in getting me through those difficult times. Those affirmations were literally life-saving tools and equally important as the ropes and harnesses; without them it would have left more room for doubt, fear and panic to set in, which could have had very grave results.
It’s important to surround ourselves with positivity whenever possible, not just in a crisis. When we find ourselves not achieving or simply feeling unmotivated, it’s often because we’ve told ourselves we just can’t do it, so we start to believe it. However, when we are surrounded by optimism, the possibilities open us for us; it’s no coincidence! For example, positive messages such as pictures, sayings and quotations in various places around home or work or reminders we send ourselves can have a definite impact. There are also some great apps to use to help us fine-tune and practice affirmations. Finally, it’s important to consider the influence of media and the people that we expose ourselves to. If they are toxic or just plain negative energy, we need to reduce the amount of time spent with them and surround ourselves with positive energy and people.
Making a mantra
Rather than entertaining those negative thoughts that pull us down, a few minutes each day of positive affirmations will lift us up. Repeating in our minds the affirmations of what we want to become a reality (and imagining them as a reality), allows us to be more aware of the opportunities around us that we can take advantage of. This ultimately helps to move us towards the reality we envision. It’s very easy to self-affirm. We don’t need candles, yoga mats or crystals for this to be effective, all we need is a minute – and we can do it anywhere, anytime. A few tips for making affirmations or mantras include:
- Use the present tense – I AM confident or I DESERVE happiness.
- Repeat it – a lot. Aloud is best, but silently will do in a pinch.
- Choose only positive words – avoid “don’t” “can’t” and so on. I stand up for myself or My future is amazing.
- Put feeling, belief & soul into it – I AM defeating this illness, or I am tough, solid AND awesome!
- Be clear and precise – as long as it’s easy to remember and repeat.
It may seem a bit awkward at first, and that’s normal, but trying new things and being open-minded is good for us. The benefits of being flexible in life (including flexibility in our thoughts and behaviours) far outweigh any temporary uneasiness. If trying something new like positive self-affirmations gets us closer to success and reduces some of the negative energy in our lives, why not give it a try? By spending bit more time on improving our self talk, affirming ourselves and our goals, and most importantly…believing in ourselves, just think what we can accomplish!
“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be.” ―Groucho Marx