Teaching Your Mind to Function Positively: The Power of Affirmations and Self- Affirmation Practices

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It’s that time of the year again: the beginning of January, the beginning of a new year. For many people this means new goals and resolutions. The problem with that so often though is a lack of proper reflection, looking within, checking what truly is good for the self, setting the mind to working towards that and doing so on a daily basis. Our mind should not only be set to achieving our goals and resolutions for a few days at the end of the year and at the beginning of the year, but on a daily basis and in a positive way. A mind, which is set to function positively, will help us not only in working towards our goals but also in working towards a higher well- being. Daily affirmations and self- affirmation practices are great and simple ways to teach our mind to function positively. This post will explain what affirmations and self- affirmation practices are, how they work, and how you can create your own affirmations.

Life can be quite confusing. Constantly being exposed to different ideas, thoughts and norms can easily distract us from staying true to who we really are. In addition to that many of us are lazy or easily get distracted by different things. All these factors can make us feel unbalanced, distract us from reaching our goals and leave us feeling unhappy. Our mind is like a muscle, which needs to be trained repetitively, and regularly to stay strong. One way of doing so is to practice affirmations and engage in self- affirmation practices. They are simple practices, but require consistent practice otherwise they will not work.

An affirmation is a declaration that something is true. By regularly engaging in affirmative practices we keep declaring to ourselves the truth, which strengthens our mind in believing in it. This isn’t just a theory, but actually has a biological explanation. Our brain is a malleable organ, which, as we know today, constantly rewires itself based on what we do and think on a daily basis. We have the power to train our brain towards believing in ourselves and supporting us in achieving our goals and feeling content. We are what we pay attention to. In order for affirmations to become true and be internalised daily practice is required.

Affirmations and self- affirmative practices are connected and should be practiced together but are two slightly different techniques. Let’s look at each one of them.

What are affirmations?
An affirmation is a self- confirming sentence, which we repeatedly declare to ourselves to rewire our brain to truly believe in it and work accordingly. The goal is to set our thoughts and emotions in a positive way, so that we feel, think and act in line with that affirmation. Since our brain takes some time to be rewired it is important to repeat that same sentence on a daily basis for a few weeks. We may pick an area in our life we would like to strengthen and then create a short and positively worded sentence, which will be our affirmation. Here are two rules to consider when forming your affirmation:

  1. Phrase your sentence in the present tense.
  2. Phrase your sentence positively only.

If for example I would like to strengthen my self- confidence I could chose one of the following affirmations:
‘I truly believe that I am important and worth.’
or
‘I deeply believe in myself.’

If for example I want to strengthen self- care I could chose this affirmations:
‘I enjoy taking care of myself and do so by eating healthy and practicing sports regularly.’
If I would want to strengthen my health I could phrase my affirmation in the following way:
‘My body is strong and healthy.’
or
‘Every cell of my body is healthy and functioning properly.’

Who are affirmations for and how can they be practiced?
Affirmations can be practiced by anyone. They can be practiced to achieve a certain state of mind to achieve internal goals, such as feeling content and happy or achieving external goals, such as reaching a goal at work. Affirmations also have healing powers both for our mind and body. They are great techniques to practice when we are either mentally or physically ill. You may start your affirmation practice anytime; the only important thing is to consistently repeat your affirmation on a daily basis. Only a few minutes a day are enough to achieve powerful results.
Both the morning and evening are great times of the day to repeat your affirmation. Set a few minutes aside for your affirmation practice. Find some stillness and quietness. Sit or lie down, close your eyes, breath deeply and repeat your affirmation with every inhale.

What are self- affirming practices?
Affirmations are great to be practiced together with self- affirming exercises. While affirmations are single sentences, which we repetitively say to ourselves, self- affirming practices are reflective practice through which we can get to know our values and ourselves. Like affirmations we should engage in self- affirmative practices regularly. Self- affirmative practices do not need to be practiced daily to be effective, but weekly. We are constantly exposed to experiences, ideas, criticism, and changes. By practicing self- affirming practices on a weekly basis we are always up to date with what is going on inside of us and can help ourselves cope with stress and affirm our values to ourselves.

How can self- affirmation be practiced?
Self- affirmation should be practiced on a weekly basis. You can choose one day a week and mark one hour or half an hour in your calendar for your self- affirmation. The first time you engage in your self- affirming practice set some more time aside, so that you can phrase your affirmation as well.
Have a little booklet, which you use every time. Reflect on your values, on the way you live, on what is important to you and on what makes you happy, stick to the positive things and word it positively. Reflect on everything you are and what is important to you. Think about the small and the big things and write all of these down.

Affirmations and self- affirming practices are so effective because they remind us of our values, and keep us focused, consciously and unconsciously. Dwelling on what we value is one of the best practices we can do, it strengthens our self- worth and can help is regulate our emotions. Self- affirming practices have been found to increase academic and work performance, health and well- being.

Wishing you a happy and positive new year,
xxx Sarah

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