Do Positive Affirmations Work? What Experts Have to Say
A psychologist outlines the benefits of affirmations for your mental health. Is the old adage “If you can believe it, you can achieve it” true? Positive affirmations are a self-help technique that puts the adage into action. These daily proverbs might assist you in overcoming self-doubt, self-sabotage, and fear. Lauren Alexander, Ph.D., a psychologist, describes how regular positive affirmations can help you confront the world with confidence in yourself and your talents.
What exactly are positive affirmations?
Positive affirmations are statements that you can say aloud or in your brain to affirm and build yourself up, especially in challenging situations. They are a method of overcoming negative ideas that can occasionally take over and cause you to doubt yourself.
We live in a society where it is easy to become trapped in negativity. In terms of the things we say to ourselves, positive affirmations are a way to help clear out some of that negativity.
How to Choose Positive Affirmations
There is no one-size-fits-all affirmation, so you must determine which one feels appropriate for you. It may be anything nice about a particular quality or a wise decision you’ve made, or it could just be something affirming of your self-worth.
1. Stay away from toxic optimism.
Using positive affirmations does not imply convincing yourself to deny the difficulties in your life or the world around you.
“Standing in front of the mirror and saying, ‘You’re awesome’ and ‘You’re beautiful,’ can feel very inauthentic,” Dr. Alexander explains.
And, to be honest?” Good vibes only” is neither realistic nor beneficial.
Instead, choose positive affirmations that acknowledge the truth of your current position while relying on your own abilities to persevere and grow.
2. Acknowledge hardship
Positive affirmations should be personalized to your specific challenges and worries. I believe in affirmations that acknowledge the struggle you’re experiencing while also reminding you of moments when you’ve been successful.
Examples of Positive affirmation includes the following:
“My feelings make me uncomfortable right now, but I can accept them.”
“I am strong enough to deal with what is going on right now.”
“This situation is difficult, but I have the necessary skills and abilities to deal with it.”
“I’m going to ride this out and not let it get to me.”
“I’ve survived similar situations before, and I’m confident I’ll survive this one as well.”
Remember that denial is not a healthy coping mechanism. If you go through difficult moments as if your sentiments don’t exist, they will nonetheless lie beneath the surface, dragging you down. Affirmations like these provide room for your emotions while also relying on your abilities to overcome them.
“Affirmations acknowledge that what’s going on right now isn’t ideal, but that you can get through it like you’ve gotten through other difficult things,” Dr. Alexander explains.
How to Maximize the Power of Positive Affirmations
Dr. Alexander offers advice on how to choose the correct affirmations for you and increase the likelihood that they will help you.
1. Practice being positive.
Positive affirmations, like anything else, require effort. If you’re not used to saying them and don’t do so on a regular basis, they’re unlikely to help you in need.
“We have to intentionally practice positive thoughts if we want to start making less room for negative thoughts,” Dr. Alexander explains.
She says that the concepts we think about the most, according to a psychology concept known as “survival of the busiest,” are the ones that take root in our brains. Pushing back on our typical way of thinking, then, takes practice.
2. Postpone your skepticism.
Let’s be honest: it can feel strange to look in the mirror and say wonderful things to oneself but try to resist the urge to give up.
“It’s unrealistic to expect to become a positive thinker overnight if you’re typically a negative thinker,” Dr. Alexander explains. Allow some time for it to sink in and feel normal.
3. Say them to yourself aloud
It is up to you whether you speak your positive affirmations aloud or just mentally repeat them to yourself, although the former is probably the best method to begin. Hearing something out loud can have a greater impact than expressing it in your head.
She offers suggestions for when and how to say your affirmations:
- Post your positive affirmations on notecards or sticky notes around your house.
- Place them on your nightstand so you can see them when you wake up and before you go to bed.
- Save your affirmations on a phone app so you may access them throughout the day.
Set a timer to remind yourself to look at or repeat your affirmations every day at the same time.
Integrate Positive Affirmation With Action.
Positive thought is one of the first stages toward positive action, but it is not sufficient.
Consider this: Would you believe someone who said they were going to give you a million dollars? You’d probably be suspicious until you saw the check in your bank account. The same may be said for positive thinking.
“I always tell people that changing their thinking is critical, but what really convinces us as humans is seeing a change in behavior,” Dr. Alexander explains.
If you think you’re unlikeable, start by smiling at a couple of strangers during the day, and then invite a colleague to have coffee on a break.
“You have to give yourself a chance to have interactions that prove your negative thinking wrong,” Dr. Alexander adds. “When you see that what you expected to happen didn’t happen, it reinforces your new way of thinking.”
What to Do When Positive Affirmations Fail
Positive affirmations can help you continue and maintain faith in yourself during a difficult moment, but if you can’t seem to shake chronic feelings of self-doubt and poor self-esteem, it’s time to consult with a mental health expert who can help you learn to deal.
“Life can certainly be miserable at times”. And we can’t always change the stressors that are causing that misery.” “However, our way of thinking during those trying times can either stymie or propel us forward.”