What are affirmations and how can we use them to achieve our goals?
You may or may not be familiar with affirmations and the process in making daily declarations to have a positive impact on your life; but what are they and how can we start including them in our every day routine?
If you look up the word “affirm” in the Cambridge dictionary it says “To state something as true”.
This is commonly used in a court of law, where a witness is asked to:
“solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give will be the truth.”
However we can use affirmations for self healing too!
Where do affirmations come from?
Affirmations for self help can be traced back to the art of mediation. Practising Budha’s would chant mantras over and over again to evoke enlightenment.
We can also link the start of self help and self healing Mantra’s back to French Phycologist Emile Coue. In the late 19th century he developed a method of psychotherapy and self improvement called conscious autosuggestion. Later coined the ‘Coue Method’.
Coue’s methods were centred around his belief that imagination can be trained more rapidly than will power. As part of his treatment would ask his patients to say: “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
The list of ailments that he treated was endless and included memory loss, kidney problems and migraines to mention a few.
“I have had the happiness of contributing to the cure of a large number of neurasthenics with whom every other treatment had failed. One of them had even spent a month in a special establishment at Luxemburg without obtaining any improvement. In six weeks he was completely cured, and he is now the happiest man one would wish to find, after having thought himself the most miserable. Neither is he ever likely to fall ill again in the same way, for I showed him how to make use of conscious autosuggestion and he does it marvellously well.” – Emile Coue, Self Mastery.
How do they work?
Thanks to today’s modern technology, we are able to study the brain and see exactly what is happening when we practise affirmations.
Researchers at The University of Pennsylvania have used a process called Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). This measures brain activity using MRI technology to detect changes by blood flow. This found that the process of self affirmation activates reward centres in the brain. These are the same as you would experience during pleasurable experiences such as enjoying your favourite food.
Emily Falk, Associate professor of communication, and leading the study, said:
“It seems like we can change neural activity using this simple intervention and it does relate to behaviour change down the road, self-affirmation is a cheap, scalable intervention…and it turns out to have huge effects for a relatively low investment.”
How to use affirmations?
The fantastic thing about affirmations is that anyone and everyone can use them. You do not need a prescription to start using affirmations in your daily life and experiencing the benefits that the positivity can bring.
Affirmations should be positive, self esteem building declarations that reduce stress and counter negative thinking.
You should look to affirm in the present tense rather than in the past tense. Studies have shown that the present tense affirmations have more of an impact on behavioural changes in the brain. Keeping your affirmations in the present or future tense such as “I am” or “I will” will also help in your visualisation of where you want to be, and how you see yourself.
Always keep your affirmations positive
It is best to recite your affirmations so they reflect what you want from life. You do not want to encourage negative thoughts during your declaration. You can keep your mind focused on the good and self esteem boosting phrases. For example if your goal is to give up smoking rather than saying “I do not want to smoke anymore”, change the phrasing around to say “I am free from cigarettes and happy.”
This helps to visualise on the long term goal and experience what you are desiring of right now.
Another example is if you want to lose weight, rather than saying “I don’t want to crave unhealthy food anymore”, change the phrasing around.
Your affirmation could be “I am happy and healthy and my food choices reflect this.”
Once again you have kept your affirmation positive and in the present tense to allow your brain to make behavioural changes.
Stay away from negative words when reciting your affirmations like ‘quit, stop, lose, get rid, give up’. The negative connotations associated with these words is what our subconscious will work on. Instead we must focus our wording on what we do want, so the subconscious image can work on the positive results that we strive for.
When making your affirmations create positive statements that instil excitement in you. You should recite these affirmations with passion and energy that will empower you. This will help in keeping you motivated on your goals and visualise the desired outcome. Try smiling when saying your affirmations. The act of smiling activates neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These send messages that reduce stress and act as natural anti depressant.
Below are some example affirmations to help you get started and thinking along the right lines to write your own:
“I feel calm and centred”
“I have a positive outlook on life’s situations”
“Everyday I become more peaceful and content”
“I am happy and healthy”
“Everyday I have more control of my life”
“I believe in my positive actions”
“I love the positive changes in myself”
How can hypnosis and affirmations work hand in hand to achieving results?
Hypnosis is a state for making wonderful changes and positively affecting your life. We go in and out of hypnosis many times a day. When we are reading a book, driving a car, out for a run etc. It, is when the conscious mind and the subconscious mind come together and are focused on the same thing. When this happens, we are in a highly suggestible state where changes can be made.
If when we are in this state, we feed the brain with positive suggestions, metaphors and stories we can get some wonderful results on specific issues that you wish to improve.
Our thoughts are so powerful, and when we are in this trance state we can make so many positive changes to our lives.
If we team the positive suggestions of hypnosis, that we receive during the trance like state, with positive daily waking affirmations, then our minds will be met with an incredible amount of optimism. This way we give ourselves the tools to educate and open our minds and enhance our experience of life.
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