Lock the door. Press play. Volume up. Let’s do this. “I am an amazing being on the soil of this earth…” Am I seriously supposed to repeat that!? I stare at the girl in the mirror holding a bottle of foundation and a beauty blender. I am getting ready for my day and apparently playing a video on YouTube, of affirmations I can repeat over and over, is going to make me feel better. It is supposed to set my intentions for the day and create a positive mindset. All I feel is a strange fear that this voice is trying to hypnotize me into joining a cult.
Affirmations are positive statements we say to ourselves repeatedly, out loud or in our own minds. They create mental images that can motivate, inspire and energize us. There is a conscious shift in focus to things which are positive, to override the negative. Thus for a recovering pessimist like myself, affirmations have great appeal. The benefits of this exercise are widely applicable.
Self-affirmation has shown to ease the effects of stress. In one study, a short affirmation exercise boosted the problem-solving abilities of "chronically stressed" subjects to the same level as those with low stress. Feeling anxious about a job interview or an exam is perfectly natural. But there are people who suffer from that feeling every day, others have anxiety triggered by social situations and many other circumstances. Affirmations have also been shown as effective in helping the alleviation of anxiety.
The practice can also come into effect in the work environment. A study published in the journal of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people in low positions of power may perform better by using self-affirmations to calm their nerves. Reflecting on things that are good about ourselves certainly appears to be a better idea than thinking about how much our boss loathes us, or the disappointment our parents may feel toward our life choices.
When coming up with your own affirmations it is helpful to create short sentences with few words. “I” statements are also encouraged. They should also be meaningful to who you are as a person and fit your goals. These could range from things which are self-esteem boosting, to work related and even relationship and family oriented. Tailor the affirmations to suit your needs. As opposed to some generic phrases you find on YouTube, with otherwise pleasant flute music in the background. But I grudgingly add that such videos do work for some and can help to get the ball rolling.
I personally came to the realization that affirmations work well after meditating. While you are still and calm, more focused than usual on the exact thoughts buzzing around your brain. You can affirm while brushing your teeth and making odd face contortions while applying mascara too. But I’d say it works best when you are less distracted and able to truly feel what you are thinking, to centre more energy around the affirmation. Say it with me now – “I am in charge!”
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