We all feel unsure at times, over our head, wondering if we can do this “thing” we have in front of us. Whether facing a work presentation, preparing for a final exam, starting a new job or enrolling in school, times of stress may make us doubt our abilities. In these situations, our inclination may be to think or utter words of self-doubt, but it’s important to realize that those negative statements can undermine our intentions and abilities. Negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies and can affect our personal lives, relationships, our careers and much more. It is much better, instead, to think and give voice to positive thoughts, to build ourselves up instead of tear ourselves down. Words of affirmation can have a powerful effect in our lives.
What is an affirmation?
“An affirmation is really anything you say or think. A lot of what we normally say and think is quite negative and doesn’t create good experiences for us. We have to retrain our thinking and speaking into positive patterns if we want to change our lives.”- Louise Hay
By building affirmations into your vocabulary and repeating them often, you can start to make positive changes in all areas of your life. In fact, by changing our thought patterns, we expose ourselves to opportunities previously unthought of.
Practicing the power of positive affirmations can also:
- Help combat depressive thoughts. Low-self esteem can be an integral part of depression and can also increase anxiety. Changing our thought patterns to include positive affirmations can improve our mental health! Replacing negative thoughts with phrases such as, “I a worthy”, “I love myself and who I am”, and “I’ve got this”, can go far in making us feel better about ourselves daily.
- Your positive energy can help motivate those around you. It’s hard to be negative around someone who is optimistic and joyful.
- Strengthen your relationships. Positive thinking can impact how you relate to others. Your positive energy can help draw in new friendships and help to repair old ones.
When faced with a challenging task at work or at school, it’s all too easy to start thinking negative thoughts such as, “this is so difficult”, “I’ll be lucky to finish”, “I’m not as smart/savvy/quick to learn as others”. Practice replacing those negative, self-destructive thoughts with positive affirmations such as, “I’ve got this”, “If I take my time, I can accomplish much” and “I’m just as able as anyone else”. We think you’ll see a difference!
Author Louise Hay states “A lot of what we normally say and think is quite negative and doesn’t create good experiences for us. We have to retrain our thinking and speaking into positive patterns if we want to change our lives.”
Building daily affirmations into your life has many effects:
- As you become more aware of the words that you think and speak, you can reduce negative thoughts from affecting your performance and belief in yourself.
- Your perspective is heightened and little things in life remain “little”.
- You may feel healthier and happier. Optimism and hope can be reflected on your physical self.
- You will be more aware of, and grateful for, the blessings in your life. By practicing positivity and giving thanks for even the simplest of things, you will be living a life of gratitude and will seek out the good in your experiences.
Self-affirmations can be used in any situation where you'd like to see a positive change take place in your life. These might include times when you want to:
- Start a new endeavor (find a new job, relocate, join a club, go back to school).
- Raise your confidence before an exam or presentation at work or school.
- Combat negative feelings such as fear, frustration, anger, or impatience.
- Overcome habits such as procrastination, poor time management, disorganization, etc.
- Improve your self-esteem.
- Find motivation to reach your personal goals.
- Bring healthier habits to your life, such as exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep.
Finding it hard to believe that self-affirmation can benefit you? The authors at MindTools offer this tip, “try looking at positive affirmations this way: many of us do repetitive exercises to improve our physical health, and affirmations are like exercises for our mind and outlook.”
For our students out there; self-affirmation may also help to boost academic achievement. In one study, results showed that a short self-affirmation exercise improved problem-solving performance in underperforming chronically stressed individuals. It’s easy to incorporate positive messaging into your life. For every negative thought that comes to mind, come up with a positive one. Go from “I’m not good enough” to “I can do this”!
Start listening to yourself today. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or introducing self-doubt into a situation, stop. Think of positive messaging instead. Give yourself props, a pep-talk, and motivate yourself to do your very best!
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