The power of positive affirmations come from their ability to help shift negative thoughts. Most people have battled with negative thoughts about themselves or the world around them at some point. While there are many strategies to deal with these negative thoughts, using positive affirmations is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to do so.
The trick is figuring out which ones work best for you and figuring out how to use them successfully.
So, how do positive affirmations work?
Neuroplasticity, or your brain’s capacity to alter and adapt to various conditions throughout your life, is a clue to help us understand how positive affirmations work.
Simply put, sometimes your brain struggles to distinguish between reality and imagination.
When you create a mental image of yourself doing something — like conquering your fear of eating certain foods or overcoming your eating disorder/disordered eating habits — the same brain areas are activated as if you have actually experienced these situations. (pretty cool, right!?)
By repeating positive affirmations to yourself on a regular basis, you might help your brain accept them as true.
Positive affirmations help to:
- improve your mood
- boost self-esteem
- increase motivation
- help you solve problems
- boost optimism
- help you address negative thoughts
What does the research have to say?
Studies on the use of positive affirmations show that they can increase our capacity for problem-solving under pressure, decrease the occurrence of defensive reactions that hinder our growth, and even prevent depression in college women who are at risk.
According to research, affirming yourself activates your brain’s reward system, which may explain why affirmations are effective. The impact of physical and emotional distress can be lessened thanks to this system, which can also help you feel less pain.
How to start practicing with positive self-affirmations:
- Start with 3 to 5 minutes once a day. Maybe that looks like saying affirmations when you wake up in the morning or before going to bed.
- Repeat each affirmation 10 times. Listen to yourself saying it, and really focus on the words you’re saying. Believe them to be true!
- Make sure your routine is consistent and try to avoid missing any days. Positive affirmations can be a fantastic complement to your daily meditation routine if you practice it!
- Be patient. Keep up your practice even if it takes some time before you see any changes!
When positive affirmations don’t work
Although positive affirmations are powerful, they may not be for everyone. Positive affirmations may help you to boost your self-confidence and optimism during a difficult time, but if you can’t seem to get rid of recurring negative thoughts, it may be time to consult with a mental health professional who can teach you other coping skills.
In the essence of eating disorder and disordered eating recovery, here are some positive holiday affirmations for healing your relationship with food & body:
- “I deserve to fuel myself with foods that offer both nourishment and pleasure.”
- “I will be kind to my body today.”
- “I will let go of negative thoughts that don’t serve me.”
- “I honor my body by trusting the signals that it sends me.”
- “In order to get comfortable with food again I must first get a little uncomfortable.”
- “I give my body permission to change.”
To see if positive affirmations work for you, choose one of these affirmations that really resonates with you and allow it to be your affirmation of the week. Otherwise, try to come up with your own! Instead of tossing the idea out the window, be sure to give affirmations a few tries before exploring other coping skills.
We hope that this article inspired you to implement positive affirmations into your daily routine. If you need more support, apply to work with us here!
- Affirmations for anxiety: How to make and use them. (2020, June 24). Healthline.
- Critcher, C. R., Dunning, D., & Armor, D. A. (2010). When self-affirmations reduce defensiveness: timing is key. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(7), 947–959.
- Peden, A. R., Rayens, M. K., Hall, L. A., & Beebe, L. H. (2001). Preventing depression in high-risk college women: a report of an 18-month follow-up. Journal of American College Health: J of ACH, 49(6), 299–306.
- Creswell, J. D., Dutcher, J. M., Klein, W. M. P., Harris, P. R., & Levine, J. M. (2013). Self-affirmation improves problem-solving under stress. PloS One, 8(5), e62593.
- Cascio, C. N., O’Donnell, M. B., Tinney, F. J., Lieberman, M. D., Taylor, S. E., Strecher, V. J., & Falk, E. B. (2016). Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(4), 621–629.