Affirmations have been around for a long time and are still prevalent today. We can find them everywhere, including, books, online and many other places.
Science has shown that our thoughts have a physical impact on brain function. Affirmations are a tool for training our brains to think in ways that lead to success and happiness.
How do affirmations work? And what are the psychology principles at play here? This blog post will explore their benefits and some interesting research on their effectiveness.
What is an affirmation?
Affirmations are statements that affect the conscious and subconscious mind. When you set a goal for yourself, they can be useful to change how you think or feel in a more positive way.
Affirmations can be specific such as: "I am becoming my best self," and generic such as: "Today will bring me closer to who I want to become."
While repeating the affirmations, first thing in the morning or last thing at night, the individual automatically thinks about the goals they have set. This leads to more positive feelings and thoughts of accomplishment, which will make it easier for them to succeed.
By saying, "I am deserving and worthy of success and abundance," you will start to feel different about yourself and your future than if someone said, "You are not good enough."
They change the way you think and behave, not just for a day but throughout your life.
They work because they change how you think, which changes how you behave- this is psychology's simplest form. Let's dive deeper into the history of affirmations.
How did affirmations come about?
The French psychologist, pharmacist, and Father of Affirmations, Emile Coue of the early 20th century, discovered that when he offered his patients a potion stating how effective it is, the results were much better compared to when he did not say anything.
This discovery led to the realization that ideas that occupy our minds turn into our reality. It led to the development of Autosuggestion. This required the patients to repeat the words, "Every day in every way, I am getting better and better," daily.
Coue achieved many amazing cures with his techniques in his life, which helped many people and are still helping millions.
The New Age Movement that came in the late 1980s, found that positive thinking and visualization were very powerful tools.
Affirmations became a part of the New Age, popularized by Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life."
This book influenced many people to find their inner peace and happiness in life.
Another book, "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, sold many copies and made affirmations widely popular.
The concepts of the Law of Attraction, by Rhonda Byrne, are based on affirmation theory.
It is a self-help guide that helps readers focus less on what they lack in life and more about how their thoughts can help them achieve anything.
Byrnes states that the Universe is made up of energy, and our thoughts are energy as well. Everything emits a frequency, and the frequency our thoughts emit tends to attract a similar frequency to them.
This is why when we affirm, "I am rich, and I deserve success and wealth," we attract a similar frequency of abundance in wealth and success into our lives.
The Science Behind Affirmations
The Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience journal published a study that showed what our brains look like when we practice affirmations daily.
Researchers used MRIs that showed that the reward centers of our brain – The ventral striatum (VS) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) – activate when we repeat positive affirmations.
Simply put, the part of our brains that gets affected when we eat our favorite dish or when something good happens to us are the same parts that get affected when we repeat affirmations to ourselves regularly.
Lead researcher Christopher Cascio stated, "Many studies have shown that these circuits can do things like dampen pain and help us maintain balance in the face of threats."
Cognitive Restructuring is another concept that explains how affirmations work.
There's a reason why some people have difficulty changing their habits, despite trying to do so. Thinking patterns are just like train tracks: they run deep into your brain and change the way you think over time as long as you use them repeatedly.
This is how affirmations work, too- when something good comes up in your head, again and again, it will be easier for that thought to come forward next time instead of other negative thoughts which were running on an automatic track previously.
This leads to a more open and accepting mindset.
What to Look Out For While Affirming?
Affirmations can be very powerful in certain situations and all the right conditions. Although, some conditions render affirmations less effective. That's why it is important to be mindful of these things when you are crafting your affirmation sentences:
- Repeating affirmations without any intention or belief in what is being repeated takes away the power of the affirmation. If you say, "I am rich," but do not believe that you deserve money or that you are rich at all, the affirmation will not work. Affirmations work when we are invested in them.
- Affirmations made in the negative, such as "I am ugly" or "I am so broke this month," are also affirmations. Although negative, these are statements that we believe and will, in turn, attract more negative. Be conscious of repeating or thinking negative statements regularly.
- Affirmations that are so far from your current situation that they are not practical for you to believe. Affirmations like, "I earn a billion dollars this month" feel too good to be true. These might be our goals, but repeating affirmations that are more believable to us, like, "I deserve to prosper and build my wealth and success," can help us believe them.
- An inconsistent affirmation practice can affect what we attract as well. Not repeating our affirmations regularly and distractions while practicing our affirmations is why our subconscious mind does not believe the affirmations when we do repeat them. Repetition is the only way to change our subconscious beliefs.
Positive affirmations are more than just wishful thinking. They are a tool that can help us change our subconscious thoughts and beliefs to attract what we want in life. Affirmations work because of the science behind them, too- it is not just about repeating words or phrases!
Some affirmations that you can use are:
- I am strong
- I deserve to be healthy and happy.
- Each day I will choose my health.
- I love myself unconditionally.
- I am kind and compassionate.
Now that you know how affirmations work, you can better use them to make the changes you want in your life.