Changing our mindset is an important aspect of any journey that requires us to grow. However, replacing old patterns of thinking with new and improved ones is no small task; harnessing the power of affirmations, whether written, spoken aloud, or stated in our head, can assist in changing the way we think.
The Power of Affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements intended to inspire and motivate us to create change in ourselves. These statements help us incorporate new beliefs into our everyday lives by the use of repetition. For example, if making healthy choices has been a struggle, repeating a statement such as “I feel vibrant and alive when I make healthy choices for me,” can help to retrain the mind to view the process as empowering and energizing.
Affirmations can help us create a new reality, allow a more compassionate view of ourselves, and increase problem-solving skills, which help us improve the way we move through life. When we understand the importance of our thoughts and beliefs, we are able to be more intentional about nurturing our minds.
Consider these benefits when starting your own affirmation practice:
Create a New Reality
When we think negatively, we view the world negatively. The outcome of every encounter and interaction stems from that negative belief. When we practice affirmations, we can change this pattern by reprogramming our negative beliefs into positive and supportive ones.
Affirmation statements can serve as inspiration, reminders, or help us stay focused on a goal throughout the day. No matter which purpose calls to you the most, the power of affirmations can promote positive self-change when practiced aloud consistently. For example, statements such as:
- “I enjoy sharing the real me in relationships” could provide the courage to be more vulnerable with loved ones.
- “It’s safe for me to get excited about money” might inspire you to take a more active role in your financial management.
This new reality within ourselves has the ability to affect our conscious, outward behavior on a day-to-day basis. With our subconscious open to new information and possibilities, we can take action in ways we might not have been able to before. A lack of confidence might make us afraid to ask for a raise, but reprogramming our minds using the power of affirmations can help us take the leap.
Allow More Compassion
Recent research suggests that creating some distance from our inner monologues by using non-first-person language in our self-talk can help us develop a kinder and more compassionate view of ourselves. In this way, we create our own internal affirmations in our thoughts.
In the study, two groups were given instructions about how to frame their inner monologue. One group was asked to use the first-person pronoun “I”, while the second group was asked to use second-person language: “you” or their own name. After being given difficult tasks such as delivering a speech with little preparation time, participants were asked to record their inner thoughts in a stream-of-thought essay. Participants who used “I” statements in their inner monologue tended to focus on the reasons they would not be successful in the task:
- “I don’t think I’m prepared enough to give a speech.”
- “I can’t prepare a speech in three minutes.”
Those who spoke to themselves as “you” or using their own name, recorded more supportive and encouraging statements from their self-talk:
- “This is not the first speech you’ve ever had to give.”
- “You’re qualified and have worked hard.”
Using second-person language helped create some distance from participants’ inner talk. This “outsider” view helped them become more objective and self-affirming of the positive. As a result, they tended to feel more confident.
The second-person group was able to speak to themselves with more compassion, as if speaking to a friend. Having this level of compassion and support within our own minds can help us overcome our limiting beliefs and increase our confidence.
Increase Problem-Solving Skills
Our thoughts, behaviors, and actions are all affected when we experience stress, making us unable to perform at our best. Affirmations may provide a way for us to overcome the negative effects of stress as we face the challenges of everyday life. A study by Carnegie Mellon University found that self-affirmation improves problem-solving performance in underperforming and chronically stressed individuals.
One group of participants in the study were given the opportunity to self-affirm a value or characteristic before a 30-item problem-solving and creativity assessment. A second group focused on the importance of values to others before the assessment. In a brief writing exercise, the self-affirmation group first rated eleven values in order of personal importance. Next, they wrote about their first ranked value and why it was important to them. The non-self-affirmation group also ranked eleven values in order of personal importance, but instead wrote about their ninth-ranked value and why it might be important to others.
The self-affirmation group seemed better equipped to minimize their stress as they completed the problem-solving assessment. Higher-stressed individuals scored especially well on the assessment with an average score of 9, compared to high-stressed individuals in the non-self-affirmation group with an average score of 5. These results show that affirmations have the potential to help us navigate stressful times in our lives, and build resilience as we face challenges. In an increasingly complex world, this ability can improve the way we learn and work. Stress and problem-solving are a part of life, but affirmations can help us stay grounded in our minds.
Harnessing the power of affirmations is more than just a feel-good strategy. Affirmations can have a very real and practical effect on our daily lives and how we take action in the world. They help us release old patterns and beliefs to make room for what we need to grow.
Check out The Art of Letting Go to learn more ways to release what no longer serves you.