“I can do this!”
That’s what you say to yourself whenever you’re afraid, unsure or unconfident. It’s what you whisper to yourself before gathering up the courage to talk to a stranger or scream inside your head as you’re ready to pound out that last mile on the treadmill.
Whether you realize it or not, telling yourself you’re going to accomplish a goal over and over again until you believe it is actually an effective strategy.
Even when there are other people around to tell us we can accomplish our goals or change our behaviors, their words mean nothing if we don’t believe them. Before we can truly change, we have to somehow convince ourselves it’s possible.
We take a deeper look into why talking yourself into a task or a belief, what psychologists call positive affirmation, actually works. Then we’ll show you a few examples of what this looks like in the real world and how to start using positive affirmation in your own life.
What are positive affirmations?
A positive affirmation is a positive or uplifting statement that describes a physical or metaphorical place you want to be, mindset you want to adopt or a specific goal you want to accomplish.
When you whisper to yourself, “I can do this!” before you step out onto the field or start your exam, that’s a positive affirmation. You are reassuring yourself and essentially training your subconscious mind to believe it is a true statement.
We often supply our own positive affirmations without realizing we’re doing it. Becoming more aware of how you are already using them in your daily life can help you start to use them as often as possible to improve your life.
Why do they work?
Studies have yet to confirm the biological mechanisms behind why telling ourselves we can do something makes us more likely to do it. However, science can explain how positive affirmation benefits us psychologically and can lead to improved quality of life.
Research has shown that positive self-affirmation can help guard us against the kind of stress that prevents us from solving problems.
Professionals also hypothesize that positive affirmation helps us deal with negative or difficult situations because it teaches us how to cope with people and situations that threaten or criticize our integrity.
What are some examples of positive affirmations?
Coming up with and using positive affirmations in your life is a bit like setting goals. You should make them specific for optimal effectiveness, and to channel your thoughts exactly in the direction you want them to go.
Here are some examples of specific positive affirmations you can use the next time you need a little confidence boost, reassurance that you are doing the right thing or extra motivation to reach a goal.
- My idea matters even if my friends/family don’t think so.
- Everything looks bad now but I will learn from this and do better next time.
- I surround myself with positive, caring people because they make me a better person.
- I’ve gotten to where I am because I am smart and capable and I have earned it.
- If I’m going to change the world I need to overcome my fear of failure.
How you can make positive affirmations work for you
Just looking at the above examples on your screen without much context might make this whole idea seem a little silly. After all, you can flaunt your next big idea all you want to, but is convincing yourself it’s a good idea enough to take it a step further and turn it into something real?
The key to making positive affirmation useful and effective is defining exactly what you want your positive affirmations to accomplish. Once you know your end goal, your positive affirmation becomes a tool instead of just a bunch of words.
Let’s say you have an idea for a new product, one no one else has ever come up with before (that you know of). It’s probably the best idea you’ve ever had, but nobody around you seems to believe you can actually make something of it.
Repeatedly telling yourself it’s a good idea no matter what anyone else says might give you enough confidence to believe in yourself and shake off the haters, but you have to take it one step further.
You have to be able to explain why your idea is a good idea and why working on turning that idea into a reality is worth it. Is it going to help someone else? Is it going to make a currently difficult task easier to complete? Is it going to make you successful? Is it going to change the world?
The same way your positive affirmations themselves should be specific, so should whatever change you’re trying to bring about in saying it’s possible.
This strategy works in a multitude of circumstances we deal with on a daily basis. You can also use positive affirmations to help you deal with upsetting situations, overcome the initial sting of criticism and negative comments or conquer a particular fear or anxiety standing in your way.
You can even use them to confirm that what you have just accomplished, or have accomplished over time, is worth some praise or reward.
Without even knowing it, you probably fill your subconscious mind with positive affirmations all day long every day of the week. Yes, you can make it through that meeting without a third cup of coffee! Yes, you can make it home without stopping at Starbucks! Yes, you can smile and nod at your co-worker even though she’s getting on your nerves!
What’s most important is that you use your positive affirmation powers for good. Train yourself to live better and happier by blocking out negative thoughts and twisting your doubts into hopes. Turn your fear into determination and sprint toward your goal, no matter how many odds are against you.
Yes. You can, and will, do this. The more you convince yourself you’re strong enough, brave enough, good enough, the happier and healthier you will be.