All elite athletes do it.
Successful business people do it.
Rappers are always doing it.
Because it works.
THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT
I'm talking about the powerfully effective use of positive self-affirmation.
Self-affirmations ARE corny, but they work. If you’ve ever listened to inspiring music to psych yourself up, or if you've ever read a kind message to feel loved, then you’ve used affirmations.
I used to think that self-affirmations were ridiculous and silly, and they made me super uncomfortable. Plus, they were just not my style. How could saying something that is not true make it come true?
If you are a cynic or skeptic, recent neurological research and studies of affirmations should be enough to convince you. Several studies have proven that using affirmations:
Do not sell yourself short just because saying self-affirmations makes you...kind of want to vomit.
Affirmations have the power to literally change the structure and function of your brain. And when integrated into a holistic treatment plan with exercise and nutrition, is a POWERFUL, completely transformational tool that can revolutionize your life.
I STUMBLED ONTO AFFIRMATIONS
After I had worked with a trusted counselor for years, after I had found fitness and nutrition to treat my brain, I was well enough to tackle my childhood abuse.
Dealing with the trauma overwhelmed me with constant terror. No matter where I was or who I was with, I never felt safe. I always felt like I was in some kind of danger.
But I knew that I could figure out how to fix myself.
I researched the neurobiology of post-traumatic stress disorder and discovered that:
- In an effort to protect me from harm, my brain was hardwired to feel constantly threatened, even though I was no longer in danger.
- The human brain evolved around safety and survival, so vigilance is of PRIMARY importance.
- The brain has A DIFFICULT TIME DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN REAL AND IMAGINED, and will believe whatever it repeatedly hears and/or thinks.
I developed anxiety and PTSD because my brain believed repeated messages that I was in danger. I could use this very principle to REVERSE those messages by giving my brain repeated messages that I was safe.
So I told myself what I needed to hear until I believed it. And it worked.
Like most people, I didn't realize that I had complete control over my thoughts. And now that I know, I will never give up that power. Reprogramming my subconscious thoughts allowed me to transform the way I perceived the world and empower myself in it.
As I discuss below, your subconscious mind runs the VAST MAJORITY of your emotions, actions, and decisions. That's right. But YOU can control your subconscious, so TAKE BACK CONTROL now!
LET’S TALK FACTS: WHY AND HOW AFFIRMATIONS REALLY WORK
Affirmations are not just some new-age gobbledygook. They work on very real neurobiologic function.
Here are neuroscientific principles that support the effectiveness of self-affirmations.
- The subconscious (or habitual) brain controls the MAJORITY of our actions, decisions, and emotions. The subconscious brain is like a powerful supercomputer programmed with beliefs and behaviors that constantly runs without your conscious mind’s knowledge or permission.
- The brain has NEUROPLASTICITY, ability to physiologically change and adapt by forming new neural connections.
- Neuroplastic changes continue from the womb until the day we die. It’s never too late to change your brain!
- The subconscious mind does not work on logic and has a VERY DIFFICULT TIME DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN REAL AND IMAGINED. When you repeatedly tell yourself something, the brain will begin to operate as though it is a reality.
- Neuroplastic change can be enhanced by strong emotion and motivation. Affirmations don't work if you just say them robotically. You have to focus, visualize, and feel them.
With consistency, your affirmative thoughts create actual structural changes to the neural pathways, or the brain's paths of habitual thinking. They become your reality.
References and additional information:
AFFIRMATIONS, DEPRESSION, AND EXERCISE
Depression and exercise do not go together, but for that reason, they MUST go together. When you exercise, you are less likely to be depressed, but when you are depressed, you are less likely to exercise.
This is where affirmations come in.
Positive self-affirmations—even when they are not related to health and fitness!—have been proven to increase positive health changes such as exercise.
Depression and exercise both require perseverance, patience, dedication to master. They require hard work and a fighting spirit.
Instill the qualities in your subconscious mind using affirmations. If performed correctly, you can get results immediately, and with continued practice, you will make permanent changes in the way you see yourself and your life.
If you want to make big changes in your life, your self-image, and your performance, you need to use every tool at your disposal. So add practicing positive self-affirmations to your arsenal.
HOW TO CREATE POWERFUL CUSTOMIZED AFFIRMATIONS
FIRST, YOUR AFFIRMATIONS SHOULD BE:
1. PRESENT TENSE
Make sure your statements are in the present tense. For example, say, "I am getting healthier every day," instead of "I will get healthy.”
Always state the positive. Do not use negative words such as “not,” “never,” “don’t,” etc. Say, “I will succeed” rather than “I will not fail.” Your subconscious will hold on to the word “win” or “lose,” and the “not” gets overlooked.
Make them short and memorable. Anything that’s too long gets lost on your subconscious and loses power. Some of the most effective affirmations are very simple: I love you. I can.
SECOND, FIND WHAT YOU NEED
What do you most want to achieve (even if you have doubts or are struggling)? Write a positive affirmation stating that you will achieve this.
Identify and list the negative beliefs you have about yourself and your abilities. What are the automatic negative thoughts that you tell yourself during the day (when stressed, late, make a mistake, feel unworthy, etc.)?
If you have trouble identifying unconscious negative thoughts, here's a fun way to get some insight on the matter. Think about the movies scenes, stories, or songs that you really connect with. What is the specific emotion or message that touches you deep down?
Powerful emotional reactions tend to indicate what we want to believe about ourselves.
Write an affirmation using those qualities or feelings.
NOW HERE'S HOW TO USE THEM
Repeat the affirmations whenever you have idle time. Brushing your teeth is a great time to do affirmations. Repeat them when you put on makeup, wait for the elevator, and wait in line, and drive.
Focus on and visualize the affirmation. Believe it! Your affirmations will only yield results if you say them with conviction. Allow yourself to truly feel the emotion your affirmation.
Sign up below for a worksheet for creating CUSTOMIZED affirmations for YOUR badass transformation!
I'M NOT BUYING IT!
Affirmations only work if you allow yourself to feel, visualize, and believe them. So GET INTO IT.
But for pessimists or those who are up against severe depression or self-loathing, you might not be able to believe your affirmations.
That's when affirmations can backfire.
Your subconscious might think, "Bullshit!" which means the affirmation won’t impact your subconscious. If you can’t buy into your needed affirmations, simply add a prefix before the affirmation, such as:
- “I am committed to...”
- “I make the decision to...”
- “I choose to...”
By adding this type of prefix, the affirmation becomes something your subconscious can believe, while having the same impact as the original. It bypasses your subconscious bullshit meter.
A FEW EXAMPLES
We are focusing here on affirmations for self-worth and health motivation, but you can create personalized affirmations for any area in your life, such as money, career, relationships, safety, body-acceptance, etc. Here are some examples of affirmations you can use throughout your day to program your subconscious mind into taking the necessary steps for achieving success.
Self-Worth and Self-Image
- I am strong.
- I am powerful and capable.
- I am worthy of love.
- I can persevere.
- I am loved deeply.
- Despite my flaws, I am a beautiful person.
- I deserve to be happy.
- I am enough.
Health and Fitness
- I honor my body by taking care of it.
- I am in control here.
- Every day I am getting fitter and fitter.
- I am getting healthier every day.
- Taking care of my body is a top priority.
- My body is worth taking care of.
- I am motivated and focused.
- I am dedicated to my physical fitness.
Growth and Success
- I am a fighter.
- Every day in every way I am getting better and better.
- I am responsible for my life.
- I create my own success.
- I can do anything I put my mind to.
- I can do this.