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In a time when we crave more healing, affirmations are seemingly everywhere. You might have first read about them in a book or seen them spelled out in a beautiful illustration on social media. Or, maybe you heard your yoga instructor share one at the end of class.
No matter how or where you initially came in contact with an affirmation, it likely touched you in a way. That’s because affirmations have a physical impact on our bodies — they really do touch us.
“According to a study conducted by Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (2016), affirmations have been found to light up areas in the brain associated with self-related processing and rewards, as well as a reduction of feelings of anxiety,” explains Dr. Jenelle Kim, a doctor of Chinese medicine and an expert on Eastern philosophy and meditation.
Like meditation or yoga, reciting affirmations is a mindfulness practice that can allow us to go inward and instill positive energies within ourselves. Up ahead, we break down the power of affirmations, plus how to use them to invite feelings of self-love and compassion.
Today, affirmations have become increasingly popular in Western societies. But, many of us might be left wondering what they are and how they actually work.
“Affirmations are statements that are repeated as a positive thinking practice to help promote self-empowerment and, in turn, help us overcome challenges and negative thoughts,” says Dr. Kim. “Through this practice of shifting to a positive mental attitude, it is believed and understood that we can achieve success in anything we set our minds to,” she adds.
Inviting affirmations into our daily routines can be as simple as repeating them out loud or writing them down at any time throughout the day. And, when we do so, the affirmations help us “align our minds and connect with our intentions to bring more positivity to our lives,” says Dr. Kim.
She also says that affirmations can be used in a myriad of ways, including “overcoming a lack of self-confidence or self-esteem,” and achieving more success at our jobs. Additionally, they can be used to teach ourselves to feel “less stressed and more appreciative throughout the day” as well as calling in feelings of self-love and compassion.
At their core, affirmations are “incredibly uplifting and can help us develop more confidence and a greater appreciation for ourselves,” says Dr. Kim. And, the most intriguing part of using affirmations for self-love is how the repetition of a positive affirmation can actually retrain the mind to “think more positively and to see ourselves in a better light,” Dr. Kim notes.
“Affirmations remind us to be more empathetic and compassionate toward ourselves and help us develop better thinking patterns so we spend more time and energy being appreciative and loving and less time being negative toward ourselves,” she adds.
For anyone new to affirmations, Dr. Kim recommends starting by thinking of a few “I am” statements and repeating them a few times each morning. These “I am” statements can be anything you wish to feel about yourself, such as “I am confident” or, “I am loved.” When repeating these statements, Dr. Kim says to “allow yourself to really embody that feeling so that you can carry it with you for the rest of the day.”
Some additional affirmations for self-love include:
Whether you want to call in more self-love or another kind of energy you need at this moment, beginning an affirmation practice is a great place to start.
Support your intentions and manifest your dreams in Your Guide to Affirmations, a four-part series with Devi Brown, available now in the Chopra App.