Day 8: Choose a Positive Affirmation to Carry With You
A Gratitude Exercise
Positive affirmations, according to Wikipedia (I’m sorry to all my teachers, but hear me out!), is a carefully formatted statement that promotes positive thinking and self-empowerment.
This is the important part: “They are in the present tense, positive, personal, and specific.”
The Goal of This Challenge
There are two goals of this challenge.
- To practice changing a harmful mindset into a positive, productive one.
- To encourage self-empowerment, like Wikipedia mentioned (see, Wikipedia wasn’t all that bad for this purpose).
These goals are actually quite connected. Having some go-to positive affirmations can be an affective coping mechanism for whenever you’re feeling frustrated, angry, upset.
When you can pull these affirmations out and turn these thoughts around into more positive ones, situations become a lot more manageable and your self-confidence gets a lil’ boost.
What are Positive Affirmations Good For?
This is something you might have to practice over time — kind of like meditation — before you’ll feel the true benefit.
When I first started practicing positive-affirmations, they felt like empty words. How could I believe that I could, “believe in myself” when I felt so low? They all just seemed so cheesy and even self-centered.
But positive affirmations aren’t always those cliché quotes you see on a picture of a sunset or the ocean.
Positive affirmations are supposed to be statements that you can believe so you can motivate yourself, shake off harmful narratives in your head, boost your self-esteem, and encourage positive change. But let’s get into the research behind positive affirmations so we can see exactly how effective they are.
The Science of Positive Affirmations
Self-Affirmation Theory & It's 3 Points
Claude Steele, a social psychologist, founded the self-affirmation theory in 1988.
Yes, a theory! So there are actually empirical studies that prove that positive affirmations are an effective way to encourage self-integrity and motivation and positivity. There are three main points that make up self-affirmation theory, so let’s dive into them to understand what it means.
1. Keeping a Global Self-Narrative
This means that, through self-affirmation, we become flexible, moral, and adaptive to various situations. This is also known as self-identity (Cohen & Sherman, 2014).
2. Being Competent and Adequate in Our Personal Values
Going off the point above, keeping up our self-identity doesn’t mean we automatically become “perfect” — whatever that even means. It just means that we understand where our values are and use this understanding to our advantage to be moral, flexible, and good (Steele, 1988).
3. Acting in Ways that Authentically Merit Acknowledgement and Praise
This means that with every positive affirmation you tell yourself, you’re not saying it because we want to hear the praise for our own egotistical benefit.
Instead, it’s an earned positive affirmation because it’s consistent with our personal values (Steele, 1988).
A Study on Positive Affirmations and Brain Response
We’re gonna get all up in our brains in this particular study.
In 2016 researchers examined the neural responses in participants after they were given self-affirmations. There was, of course, a control group that weren’t given any affirmations.
Results from the fMRI demonstrated that the affirmed participants showed more activity going on in the self-processing area and valuation areas of the brain — so, they were feeling good to say the least. But the amazing part is that they even demonstrated positive behavioral changes after given future-oriented positive affirmations.
Now that’s some powerful stuff, people.
Some Positive Affirmations You Can Use
- I have permission to fall asleep/lay down/rest.
- I am doing my best. Some things are out of my control and that’s okay.
- I accept my worries and fears, but won’t let it stop me.
- I am becoming more confident every day.
- I will be kind to myself and others today.
- I work hard and I can believe in myself.
- I am open to other people’s ideas and thoughts. My own are also unique and deserve to be heard.
- I am allowed to be heard and to be loud.
- Mental health is a journey.
- I deserve to heal.
- Every moment doesn’t have to be positive. I am still growing.
- I am enough. I am strong. I am worthy.
- My arms can hug. My legs can walk. My body is one of a kind. I am thankful for it.
- I have the power to initiate change.
- This is only one moment in time. This will pass.
Which affirmation is calling to you? Remember, only choose one that you feel is relevant to your situation because that will, of course, be the most effective when you’re stuck in a tough moment.
Let me know in the comments which affirmation you’re going to carry with you today!