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How Self-Affirmations Help You and When To Use Them

Author:NeuroGym Team

Positive Affirmations Will Boost Your Self-Confidence

Self-Affirmations

Some people seem to have natural confidence, don’t they? They swagger around with their shoulders back and head high. You won’t see them avoiding eye contact or slouching, and they never seem to have problems with anything that involves public speaking. Maybe some people are born with confidence and it’s an innate thing, but for most of us, confidence takes practice. 

It’s funny that confidence is such an important thing, both socially and professionally, but we don’t really practice it, and it’s not something we learn in school (in fact, our childhood and teenage years can damage it). But if you aren’t a naturally confident person, are you able to increase your confidence? Well, it turns out, practicing positive affirmations really can help you improve your confidence! It may seem like wishful thinking, but positive thoughts can have a positive impact on how we think of ourselves!

In this article we will take a look at the power of positive affirmations and how you can use them to boost your self-esteem!

What is Self-Affirmation?

Before we look at how speaking to ourselves in a positive way can have very real benefits, let’s break down the term. There are two parts to the word:

  1. Self
  2. Affirmation

Let’s be really wild and start with the second part (we’ll get to the first bit, don’t worry). Affirmation. What is it? Affirmation is giving encouragement or support in order to affirm something, which is basically making an assertion or declaration. In essence, a positive affirmation is declaring something positive, and it could be about anything.

We are generally great at thinking nice things about those close to us. We all have friends and close family members that we have no problem spotting good stuff about. But when it comes to ourselves, we aren’t always great. The self part of self-affirmation (I told you we would get to it) is crucial. We are not just saying blindly positive things about anything around us; instead, we are complimenting and encouraging ourselves!

Self-affirmation involves affirming your own values. We may not always be consciously thinking, but we all have values that we try to live up to. These values are our idea of living a good life.

Benefits of Self-Affirmations

Sometimes things like positive thinking get a reputation of being, well, wishful thinking. But there is a genuine scientific basis showing the benefits of consistently using self-affirmations! The key word is consistently, as to have a lasting positive impact they need to be used over a long period of time. 

What’s more, there is a concept called self-affirmation theory which asserts that using positive affirmations will help people increase self-esteem. Studies have shown that subjects who regularly use self-affirmations have more activity in the parts of their brain that are involved in self-processing. The neural reward regions of the brain are activated when someone regularly uses self-affirmations over a long period of time. This leads to increased motivation.

Basically, if you regularly speak to yourself in a positive way, you will experience higher motivation resulting in a better quality of work and an increase in productivity. You will also experience an improvement in your mood.

Thinking positive thoughts will make us a more positive person. And positivity is contagious! So, if you are a positive person your energy will be infectious. This will help you cultivate positivity in your work and social groups.

Scientific studies have also provided evidence that negative words actually do have a negative effect on your brain. Equally, positive words have a positive effect! So, by speaking positively to yourself, you will be helping out your own brain, and by being more positive you will help out other people!

How Does It Work?

It can be a real challenge to stop yourself fixating on the negative. We tend to be hardwired as a species to focus on negative things that cause us to feel fear, anger, and anxiety. This trait can be traced back to primitive humans; it’s just the way we evolved. But these days, we know better. If we associate negative emotions with an object, it actually changes the way we see it. Thankfully, we can change the messages we give ourselves. So, if you find yourself always focusing on the negative, don’t worry! You can work on it! Self-affirmation is a great way to adjust your mindset about yourself and your life into a more positive one.

The first thing to do is to figure out what your values are. What is important to you? This takes some self-reflection. Think about what makes you happy in your own life, and what kind of person you want to be. Pro tip: It can be helpful to write these down!

But when should you start? At what stage in the day is it the right time to start speaking to yourself in a positive manner? Well, a good start to the day is crucial and the earlier, the better. A morning routine full of positivity will set you up for the rest of the day to be productive and full of joy. That is the opportune time to affirm yourself. Not all of us are morning people, so admittedly it can be hard to be too positive early in the day. But it’s a crucial time in the day if you’re hoping to improve your confidence. If you use positive affirmations early, it will help you build confidence for the rest of the day. Over time, this will become a truly beneficial habit.

When else can you use affirmations? It’s good to end the day on a positive note, too, so finishing off your night with some self-affirmation before going to bed will be a positive close to your day. You can also use them during any breaks in the day like during your commute to or from work, at lunch, or whenever you have a bit of down time.

Remember: for positive affirmations to be effective, you need to do them consistently! Make it a habit and you will soon see the rewards!

Build Confidence With Words

So, we know why self-affirmation is helpful, how to do it, and when to do it. But maybe you’re struggling with what to actually say. What nice things can you think of to say about yourself?

These positive affirmations need to suit you, so yours may not be the same as anybody else’s. You want to ensure they are phrased in a positive way and are in present tense (not “I was” or “I will be”, but “I am”). Even if it is saying something like “I am improving at…”, you are talking about traits you have right now. 

It is also really important that the statement you are using is meaningful to you. If you use something you can’t relate to, it won’t resonate in a strong way. It can be helpful to look up some self-affirmations online, but you will likely need to change them a bit to gear them specifically toward your life.

Self-Affirmations

There are some common phrases that work well in affirmations. Some examples are:

  • “I am free to…” Even the notion of being free is powerful, so telling yourself you are free to do things like change, get better, make decisions, and create something is a really strong affirmation.
  • “I have…” This could be the start of an affirmation where you name your strengths, state that you have a lot of positive qualities, or have power.
  • “I appreciate…” As we have already looked at, there is a power in positivity. If we can show appreciation for what we have, we can become happier in ourselves.
  • “I deserve…” Imposter syndrome is very real, and often we feel like we don’t deserve nice things. Tell yourself that you are deserving of happiness and good things in life.
  • “I do…” Using active words will increase the motivation and inspiration you feel.

You may find it beneficial to workshop a few different affirmations. Get out a pen and paper and write out a few different ideas. And remember that while it will take consistency for them to take effect, affirmations are a great way to increase self-esteem.

Stay in the Present

A point that deserves emphasis is using present tense. Positive affirmations are similar to mindfulness, in that they revolve around staying in the present. You want to tell yourself “I am.” This is important because while it is helpful to think about the future and reflect on the past, it helps us build confidence if we can focus on the positive elements of the present. Even if you are not as good as you hope to be, tell yourself “I am getting better” or “I am working hard.” This way, you are giving yourself credit for the effort you’re putting in.

Final Thoughts

The way we speak to ourselves has a great deal of power. Consistently using positive affirmations will help you become a happier person. Do some reflection on your own values and make some positive affirmations that you can start your day with!

About The Author

NeuroGym Team

NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.

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