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Positive Affirmations

Do Positive Affirmations Work?

At times I get to hear from my clients or even family and friends, that they have been using positive affirmations to improve XYZ situation in their life. But unfortunately, it has not been working the way it is claimed or does not work at all for few.

So, should we assume that Positive Affirmations are not true? Or is it doable by only select few? Let us in this article understand the science and the myths and facts about Positive Affirmations.

Positive Affirmation is nothing but using positive statements or phrases to challenge negative thoughts. For e.g. “I am Successful”, “I am a wonderful person” etc. This is one of the self-help strategies, which helps promote self-confidence and strengthen our belief in our own abilities.

Now that I have put forth what is Positive Affirmation, lets get ahead and understand the reasons for the success or failure of these.

Positive Affirmation is no magic. It is pretty much science and extensive research has been conducted through the years on this by Psychologists. The Self Affirmation theory was published by Psychologist Claude Steele in the 1980s. It talks about how individuals react/adapt to information or experiences that are threatening to their self.

It further says that, if an individual reflects on values that are personally relevant to them, they are less likely to experience distress and react defensively when confronted with information that contradict or threatens their self.

Positive Affirmations are fruitful with practice and patience. You would think, positive for a day and then expect you or the situation to improve, well sorry to burst your bubble, but no it does not work like that.

Science behind Positive Affirmations:

Our brain is a complex organ. It stores ample of data, right from our birth! Our brain can change and adapt to different situations. At times brain mixes up the real and imagination, which can be beneficial at times.

Positive Affirmations build an imaginative situation which activates the brain area which would be activated when we experience those situations in reality. For e.g., when we think that we are bungee jumping to conquer fear of heights, the brain thinks that is what we have done. As a result, our fear of heights diminishes. 

Why Positive Affirmation Don’t Work:

  1. Doing the affirmations for the sake of a task: Till the time you do not believe in the affirmations, they won’t be engraved in your mind and heart. Hence, the expected is result is not met.
  2. You are sceptical about the affirmations: If you feel that you are lying to yourself and are having questioning thoughts about them. It won’t boost your self-esteem and hence, you would not get the necessary output.
  3. Not doing anything: As said earlier, positive affirmation is not magic, if you are affirming for a situation and not working on improving the situation, you would suffer the loss or failure. Hence, acting on the task in hand is equally important.

 How to make the affirmations work for you?

  1. Practice and patience: This is an ongoing process, which needs to be done every day. It would be a few days, weeks, or months before you see the results.
  2. Start with 3 – 5 minutes: No one is asking us to sit for 30 minutes straight and practice affirmation. At the start 5 minutes can be utilised twice to get in the flow.
  3.  Repeat affirmations at least few times: Listen yourself, breathe in the affirmations and breathe out negativity.
  4. Get help: Ask someone to repeat your affirmations. Listening to affirmations reinstates the belief in us.

Combine it with other goal setting techniques: For e.g., using visualisation may help to add clarity to what you are saying.

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