Affirmations: What are they & How to use them
Updated: Nov 19, 2019
Affirmations allow us to rewrite ourselves .
An affirmation in a basic sense is encouragement. A mantra is a sound or set of words used to help concentration in a meditation. The kind of affirmations I am explaining here is a mix of an affirmation and mantra. In fact, in today's spirituality people use the terms interchangeably. Typically, a mantra is one sentence and affirmations are set of sentences but not always. Neither term is wrong, so use the term that makes the most sense for you.
Affirmations are used to create our own destiny.
When I studied psychology in college, I remember learning about the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomena. Basically, a person believes something is going to happen to them and through unconscious behaviors makes the prediction true. For example, you believe you will bomb an interview. You keep telling yourself that you will do so and then you do. When you fail, it confirms whatever you already believed about yourself to make you think you would fail in the first place. It can become a vicious cycle in thinking the worst of yourself and then finding the proof.
Around this same time in college, I was also studying Buddhism and Hinduism and learned about mantras. I really felt connected to the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum and would use it in my daily meditations and prayers. Prior to this point in my life, I suffered low self-esteem and self-worth. I decided to create a set of positive things to tell myself each day to create something between a mantra and a self-fulfilling prophecy. This kind of activity is referred to as positive affirmations but I didn't know the label then. I typed out a list of positive I am statements and rearranged them to read more like a poem. I then taped the poem to a mirror and read them to myself aloud every day. At first, I really struggled and would sometimes cry. It was extremely difficult to look myself in the eye and say "I am beautiful."
After a month, I noticed some improvement in myself and I kept at it for an entire year. In that year, I did well in all aspects of my life and began to no longer hate myself. Manifesting is a popular term used for drawing positive changes into our lives. Affirmations are like manifesting changes in ourselves. I now use affirmations all the time and so do my family. You do not need an entire list or even a full sentence to reap the benefits of an affirmation. All you need to do is think about a negative affirmation you are constantly thinking such as, "I need to lose weight," "I'll never get a better job," or "I am unlovable." For many of us, these negative statements have been with us since childhood or adolescence. They are tattooed in our minds and sometimes we believe them to be true because of how long they have been with us. You may need to dig deep to find them or you might be able to think of one immediately.
Next, you can choose a variety of ways in which to find an affirmation that will help you be the person you are meant to be. You may look for a quote that inspires and gives you the positivity you need. I love Yoga with Adriene and one of Adriene's affirmations is "Find what feels good." This affirmation is a wonderful example, because it is very open. If you are someone that often does for others instead of yourself, saying this affirmation can be very healing. If you are someone who often does what they think they "should," this affirmation can be empowering. Another way to find an affirmation is to think of a fictional character you admire or even a celebrity and ask yourself what would that person/character's self-talk be like? For example, if you look towards Beyonce, you might start telling yourself "I am fierce and I slay," every day. This affirmation could be extremely beneficial for anyone who is lacking confidence. The last option is to, of course, write your own or ask a close loved one to help you write your own. This process can be difficult but rewarding.
Lastly, I recommend giving yourself at least a month with the same affirmation(s). I suggest taping them by a mirror or keeping them by a mirror. I think it works best to say your affirmation first thing in the morning and then again before you go to sleep. I also suggest setting a reminder on your phone with the affirmation as a message to remind you a few times a day of the message. If you have a daily meditation practice, you can incorporate the affirmation(s) in the practice by simply repeating it over and over again aloud or in your mind. You can also keep a journal of your affirmation practice. Write the affirmation on the top of 30/31 pages and each day reflect on how you feel about the affirmation that day. If you have a vision board or altar, you can write, type or paint your affirmation and place it as a focus.
I want to commend you for reading this post and wanting to incorporate positive change through affirmations in your life. It is not easy. The first few times you use an affirmation your personality/ego might resist. You may feel feelings of shame, anger, sadness or even feel silly for what you are doing. An affirmation is really a way to manifest true change in yourself and therefore in your life. If you are searching for a soul mate, then you might want to start by seeing yourself as lovable. If you are searching for a good job, then you might want to start by seeing yourself as worthy. Stick with the practice and make the change towards the life you deserve.
For an extra boost in your affirmations, try taking a power pose while saying it. Check out this TED Talk for more: