Positive Affirmations

The dictionary defines self-talk as “talk or thoughts directed at oneself.” Self talk is the way in which you talk to yourself, your internal dialog though it doesn’t have to be internal. Self talk is both the way that you talk to yourself inside your head and the things that you say about yourself out loud or to other people. It may be positive or negative, how you talk to yourself influences how you see yourself.

An affirmation is “an act of saying or showing that something is true”. Another definition is an “emotional support or encouragement”. Positive affirmations are the process of elevating our self image by saying beneficial things to help convince ourselves of the truth behind them. They are an emotional support for dealing with difficult times by reframing the difficulty into something to be overcome instead of something that to just be accepted.

We are constantly talking to ourselves and speak over the things that we do. You can be speaking positive things into your life or negative ones. If you don’t take control of what you speak into your life you don’t know what is being said about you, by you. Positive affirmations allow you to take charge of what you are saying about yourself and reprogram yourself to think better and be able to handle negative situations.

Episode Breakdown

How we talk to ourselves greatly affects our lives.

The way we talk about ourselves has an affect on how we think and feel. When we put to words our own self image that gains power, especially through repetition. When we talk to ourselves we don’t just say something and forget it. We tend to repeat phrases and tell ourselves the same things over and over again. If you look at someone who is confident and self assured, they are constantly telling themselves what they are good at and when things don’t go well for them they will say that it is a new challenge to overcome. On the other side, if a person is constantly berating themselves they will start to feel like they can’t do anything right. This can take several forms from self hatred to blaming others for all their problems.

Negative self-talk is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

Negative self talk is an inner dialog that holds you back and puts limitations on your own abilities. These are words and phrases that negatively affect your thoughts and emotions. Many times these negative self talks start from accurate appraisals of a situation. However, instead of accurately assessing you aren’t good at something and so need to work harder to get better you catastrophize and start to believe that we will never be able to do the thing.

Continued negative self talk leads to a form of perfectionism where if you can’t do something right the first time you don’t believe you will ever be able to do it. This limits your thinking and your ability to learn new things. It has also been shown in studies to exacerbate or lead to depression and depressive episodes. (Fiske et al. 2009)

What is a positive affirmation?

Positive affirmations are any statement or simple sentence that you can use to combat negative thoughts and ruminations. They can be used for motivation, self-esteem, or to get through challenging situations in life. The things you say about yourself, both publicly and privately, define your identity. Through positive affirmations you are able to create a flexible self-identity that is able to adapt to changing circumstances in life. (Cohen & Sherman, 2014)

Affirmations are not something to say in order to praise yourself, but because you want to deserve to be called the thing you are affirming. The main goal of affirmations is to refocus your thinking. Regular use of positive affirmations allows you to take control of your own thoughts and combat negative ones that intrude into your mind. They put your focus on what you are doing to improve yourself and one the journey toward self improvement.

The benefits of positive affirmations based on research.

Regular use of positive affirmations is known to reduce stress. (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015)

In addition to stress reduction, positive affirmations also reduce ruminations on negative thoughts. (Koole et al., 1999; Wiesenfeld et al., 2001)

Effective use of positive affirmations creates a more teachable, correctable attitude in people. (Logel & Cohen, 2012)

There is a link between improved study and academic achievement and positive affirmations, especially in students with falling GPAs. (Layous et al., 2017)

Affirmations allow you to become competent in areas that you put personal value. (Steele, 1988)

People using positive affirmations have been shown to increase their amount of physical exercise when that was the focus of their affirmations and goals. (Cooke et al., 2014)

Positive affirmations can be used to address negative health issues in a way that brings about intentional change for the better (Harris et al., 2007) even eating more fruit and vegetables. (Epton & Harris, 2008)

Creating your own positive affirmations.

Start off by looking at the areas of you life that you need or want to change. This may be something that you want to start or stop doing. It may be a situation where you do not have a lot of control but you can control how you respond. Look at the negative things that you are saying to yourself and replace them with positive changes that you are making. This doesn’t mean accept the negative but find a way to turn it into a positive. For example, instead of saying ‘I’m too out of shape’ turn it into ‘I am becoming healthier every day through exercise and making healthier eating choices.’

When creating your affirmations make them like your goals, realistic and achievable. They are not goals so they don’t have to be fully SMART, but you want them to be something that is doable. Unlike goals which are written in future tense, affirmations should be in the present tense. Even if you are not yet doing it or there, the power of your words holds in the present. Putting them in the future they may never happen because you’ll always see them as something you will do not something you are doing.

Effectively using positive affirmations.

Repetition is the key to effective affirmations, this is where the real power exists in them. You are retraining your brain to think differently and just like learning anything new it takes time and doing it over and over again. Speaking them helps you to vocalize and hear the affirmation. Writing them helps you to see and feel them as you write them down. Doing both, writing and speaking, will ingrain them in your brain faster than either one alone no matter your learning style. Like wine and cheese, goals and affirmations pair well together. Once you’ve set your goals the affirmations you speak and write about yourself can help you stay motivated to work toward them.

Tricks of the Trade

Affirmations eventually require action. If you don’t put action with it, it’s a fantasy, you’ll know it’s a fantasy, and you’ll be irritated at your own lies.

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