What are positive affirmations? Do they really help?
Most of us who are familiar with the all-time great motivational speakers have heard of positive affirmations. But do they really work in helping us to lead a life that is fulfilling?
To start with, let’s take a look at what the word “affirmation” means.
The site The Free Dictionary.com states that affirmation means “something declared to be true; a positive statement or judgment.” The next definition is “A statement intended to provide encouragement, emotional support, or motivation, especially when used for the purpose of autosuggestion.”
When we’re talking about positive affirmations, it’s the last part of that definition—the autosuggestion—that most applies.
You see, words matter. We all know that, right?
I remember growing up, I was hounded by a particular girl in class. Even after school, she’d manage to find me and would always say things to try to get under my skin. One day, at the end of class, I noticed a notebook being passed around. They called it a “slam” book. Did you have those where you went to school?
The purpose of the slam book was to have a page for each person in the class. Every member of class could “sign” the book on each person’s page, but usually they’d write some things about the person on their page. Everyone was anxious to sign the book, but secretly, they were more anxious to find out what other kids had written about them.
I remember when it was my turn to get the book, I was so nervous about what my classmates had said about me. I flipped to my page, and was really happy to see that there were some really nice things said about me by the other kids. But there was that one comment – that mean one by the girl who always tried to get to me. THAT was the one that stuck in my head. With 99% positive things written, why did I fixate on the 1 that was ugly?
I remember going home and crying to my mom. There wasn’t much she could say or do to help me feel better, but she did tell me the age-old adage: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Bull. They hurt. To this day, while I’m far from hurt over it, I still remember it. Do I think about it often? No. That’s counterproductive, and goes against what I believe will create the best future for me. I bring it up, though, to show that negative words do matter.
But so do positive ones. And those are the ones we’re talking about here.
Dr. John Gottman, relationship expert for over 40 years and founder of the Gottman Institute, predicts divorce among couples that he talks with based on their ratio of positive words (and expressions) over the negative ones. “The magic ratio is 5:1.” Those couples who have 5 times more positive interactions than negative ones are most likely to be stable.
The reason, he suggests for this ratio, is that there isn’t balance of power between the negative and the positive.
Today’s Christian Woman states that, “Our brain needs a higher number of positive entries to counterbalance [a] built-in negativity bias. And several small, frequent, positive acts pack more punch than one giant-size positive.”
If this is all true for couples, it certainly is true in our own self-talk. Self affirmation, using words of affirmation internally is a must to counteract the negatives thrown at us on a daily basis.
How to Incorporate Positive Affirmations into Your Day
- To start with, it MUST be something that you commit to. It just needs to be part of your routine. I like to begin my day by using affirmations when talking to myself, before I even get out of bed.
- Use present tense. “I am ____________.”
- The ratio above states the importance of multiple occurrences of the positive. So state an affirmation 5 times.
- THINK about what you are saying. What does that look like? Can you visualize it? Can you feel it? What does that feel like? What does it look like? What are the positive things that happen around you when you are what you repeat? The more passion and the more “realness” you put with that statement, the more powerful it will be.
- Want an example? “I have a light inside me that I will shine on the everyone I see today.” ““I have a light inside me that I will shine on the everyone I see today.” “I have a light inside me that I will shine on the everyone I see today.”
Can you feel it? It should feel really good, whatever you are telling yourself.
- Then take that positive feeling and get on with your day.
If, as the day goes on, something negative comes your way, notice it, but try not to dwell on it. Instead, start your positive affirmations to negate the negative.
One way to take your mind off of negative things that you encounter is to think of things – and I mean REALLY get into the thought – of what you are thankful for. In one of the presentations I’ve seen by Tony Robbins he states that you can’t devote energy to negative emotions when you are really concentrating on what you are grateful for.
It really does change the picture. You CAN be positive. You CAN have all that being positive can bring to you. Attract good by thinking good things. Start today.