I used to think affirmations were woo-woo, out there ideas. Think Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live. “I am good enough, I am smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me.”
Affirmations are positive present-based statements affirming your value. I’ve found that at the very least a daily affirmation puts you in a better mood. So here is the science behind it.
Studies have found that people who use affirmations…
Perform better under stressful situations
According to research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, under high stress situations, people in positions of low power may perform better by using self-affirmations to boost their confidence. The researchers conducted three experiments to measure performance in pressure-filled situations. When participants were in a position of high power, they tended to perform better under pressure, while those with less power performed worse. Self-affirmations, however, helped to level the playing field and effectively reduced the power differences. The study was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on April 17, 2015. Researchers also found that writing down a self-affirmation may be more effective than just thinking it, but both methods are helpful. So the next time you have to confront a boss, negotiate a sale, or interview for a job, reflect on the things that you know that are good about you…. And even write them down.
Have more positive outcomes in social situations
Another study from psychologists from the University of Victoria and the University of Waterloo found that affirmations can help insecure people put aside social fears and anxieties. They demonstrated the real-life social benefits of self-affirmation and found that the benefits can be long lasting. Participants were asked to rank how secure they felt around family and friends and even potential romantic partners. They were then asked to rank themselves in different value categories. One group wrote a self-affirmation essay, in which they detailed the reasons why their top-ranked value was important to them and how it influenced their lives and identity. The control group wrote about one of their lower ranked values and why it might matter to someone else. The results: Those participants who completed the self-affirmation task grew more secure over the following two months and also behaved in more relaxed and positive ways with the researchers. This study was published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The next time you go approach someone for a date or to make a new friend… talk yourself up to yourself.
Perform better and are more receptive to mistakes
In life we are constantly making mistakes and reminded about how we could be doing better. Through affirmations we preserve our self-worth in the face of our shortcomings by focusing on the important qualities that make us who we are. Research published in Psychological Science explores the neurophysiological reactions that could explain how self-affirmation helps us deal with threats to our self-worth. Self affirmed participants performed better in a push button test than non-affirmed participants. But further than that the EEGs of the self-affirmed participants showed higher brain wave activity when errors are made. This brain activity measured is called error-related negativity and is a pronounced wave of electrical activity in the brain that occurs when making an error. This showed that the self-affirmed participants were more receptive to errors which allowed them to better correct their mistakes.
So now you see there is science behind affirmations. I am a firm believe that your thoughts control your feelings and your feelings control your actions. You can use daily affirmations to help control your thoughts where it all starts.
How to create your own powerful affirmations:
1 – Start with “I am”
2 – Write in present tense. Your brain doesn’t know the difference. So instead of saying. I will be awesome… say I AM awesome. See and feel the difference?
3- Be specific. While saying you are awesome, well is awesome, you might want to be more specific and relate your affirmation to your goals or struggles. You want to be clear as to what it is you want.
4- Make it personal. It’s about you, not others. So, “I am a caring and loving spouse” is better than “my spouse is loving and caring.”
5- Be realistic – If you say… “I am making a millionaire dollars this week.” Chances are you won’t believe yourself. If you don’t believe it when you say it, it won’t be very effective.
6- Be grateful – Try affirmations that start with “I am grateful to…”
If you still struggle to create your own here is some inspiration.
I am healthy and make healthy choices daily.
I am thankful for the abundance in my life.
I am intelligent and can accomplish difficult tasks.
I am courageous and stand up from myself.
and one of my favorites – I am superior to negative thoughts and low actions.