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Affirmations have made their way into the mainstream over the last several years. You may have even tried a few without fully understanding their purpose, or how to use them effectively, for your greatest benefit. Affirmations are incredibly useful and beneficial tools that enhance the quality of your life, but it’s important to lay a foundation for how to integrate them effectively.
For starters, what does the world affirmation even mean? Affirmation is defined as something declared to be true. A positive affirmation is a powerful, positive statement or judgment believed to be true. If you take a quick scan of your day, you’re likely to realize that you affirm things all the time. You engage in some positive affirmations and some not-so-positive ones as well. This is totally natural. It’s your brain's main biological function to process and sort information, in order to quickly discern between truths and falsehoods. This discernment ultimately keeps you safe in the world.
Sometimes though, we unconsciously pair up different elements of our lives with beliefs that aren’t necessarily true. What we can end up with, particularly in the areas of our lives where we aren’t getting the results we want, are beliefs that don’t match what we actually desire. These unconscious affirmations are often referred to as limiting beliefs and can have a great impact on the quality of our life experience.
This is where positive affirmations can come in as both a simple and powerful tool to begin shifting long-held beliefs—to help us move in the direction of what we actually want. We are less focused on past experiences, that were perhaps anything but what we wanted, and focus on the good. The most important aspect when working with affirmations is the deep understanding that sadly, they aren’t magic spells. A crucial element of positive affirmations is that you actually feel and believe what you’re saying is true. In order to directly have a positive impact on your life, there must be the positive feeling or belief. If this isn’t there, affirmations quite simply won’t work.
It’s important to spend some time finding a few affirmations that invoke a feeling of positive belief within your physical body so that you can use them throughout the day. Where people usually go wrong with affirmations is they try to go beyond what actually feels true. For example, if you only have $5 dollars left in your bank account and have lost your job, it will not be helpful to repeat the affirmation “I’m wealthy beyond my wildest dreams” as this probably isn’t something that feels very true to you in that moment of stress. However, an affirmation like: “I am taken care of no matter what” or “I will have what I need today” would be a helpful tool to move you from fear or fight/flight into a more neutral state. Once the acute stress passed, over time introducing a more positive affirmation around money and a job would be much more effective.
I categorize affirmations into two types: Neutral Affirmations and Positive Affirmations and use them both. If there’s a particular emotional trigger, stress, or fear, I’d choose the neutral affirmation. If there’s no trigger for fear at that time, I’d reach for a positive affirmation. Here are a few examples of both neutral and positive affirmations that I find most helpful:
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