If you’ve ever practiced positive self-affirmations, then chances are you may have found yourself in deep thought and concentration, providing yourself with positive feedback upon waking or assuring yourself that you are strong enough and you can do it, when facing a challenging situation.
While these types of positive self-affirmations can help you to prepare and try to build certain aspects of yourself (or overcome perceive shortcomings), positive affirmations are actually about much more than simply repeating a mantra to yourself, trying to convince yourself of something that you don’t actually believe.
What Positive Affirmations Are Not
Let’s say you are going to an interview or a new career position that you are worried about. Some gurus might tell you to get up in front of the mirror and tell yourself that you are good enough, smart enough, and you can become a success. In fact, the self help market is one of the largest consumer markets in the world, raking in an astonishing $9.9 billion dollars which includes many experts who suggest repeating phrases and mantras to improve your life and reach success.
And while giving yourself the gift of positive pep talks can certainly aid in the face of challenging situations, they are not, in fact, affirmations.
When taking into consideration the etymology of the word affirmation, it’s helpful to remember that it stems from the word, affirm which is to “assert that something is true.”
Therefore, positive affirmations are not simple statements intended to strengthen something within you that is not believed to be true. Saying to yourself, “I am beautiful,” will have very little effect if, in fact, you do not believe that you are beautiful (only 4 percent of women globally really believe they are beautiful).
What Positive Affirmations Are
The world is full of negative talk – and negative self-talk. We all have that little gremlin in our heads, constantly badgering us with our failures and insecurities. This begins in childhood as we receive “negative” feedback from parents, siblings, caretakers, peers, and other key people in our lives. It is termed “introjection” in psychology and it basically runs on autopilot. It is when we subconsciously adopt the ideas or attitudes of others.
Positive affirmations are the antithesis of introjection in that they not only counter these negative self-talks, but they do so with truth. Your truth.
If you are going into that stressful job interview feeling inadequate because you lack the experience to take on this new and exciting role, a positive affirmation is one that builds on a quality or characteristic you already believe exists.
So maybe you are among that 96 percent of women who don’t feel beautiful but you do know that you are incredibly intuitive. This is a positive affirmation you can use to help ready yourself for taking on this new challenge. Or, perhaps, you are resilient, intelligent, prepared, organized, educated, or any number of other valuable attributes that will help you to conquer this new step.
A positive affirmation is the process of reminding yourself of your strengths so that you can use them to overcome obstacles and reach success.
When to Use Positive Affirmations
Sometimes in our day-to-day routines, we become so saturated with the things we need to do, be, say, or accomplish that we don’t realize how stressed out we might be. Being self-aware and mindful will help you to recognize the signs of when your mind and body are on overload.
Any time you are feeling overwhelmed, afraid, challenged, or inadequate, these are perfect opportunities to utilize the power of positive affirmations.
How to Use Positive Affirmations
First and foremost: breathing is key. When we are stressed, our breathing suffers. This is why many healthcare professionals will tell you that taking deep breaths is a sure fire way to calm your mind and get back centered. There are a number of breathing exercises you can do even if you’re sitting behind the wheel of your car, but even something as simple as a single long, deep breath can help you refocus. Once you’ve calmed yourself and are ready to focus, here are six steps to using positive affirmations.
1. Identify the challenge
If you’re a busy person, you may find that you are feeling depressed or disconnected without really knowing why. Or, conversely, you may know exactly why you’re stressed such as a public speaking engagement or dealing with unpleasant company. Either way, before you can do effective positive affirmations, you must first set aside all of the other things going on at the moment, and focus on that challenge that is creating the stress.
2. The Three Greats
Think of three of your greatest attributes. We all have them. What are yours? Are you strong? Independent? Funny? Creative? Responsible? The most important thing here is to be honest with yourself. Keep in mind the existing challenge you are facing or the goal you have set. What is the ultimate outcome for you? Which three of your greatest attributes can you use to reach that goal?
3. Narrow It Down
Now that you’ve determined three of your greatest attributes that can help you achieve what you’re wanting to achieve, try to home in on one special one that you know is particularly powerful.
4. Think Back
Spend a few moments dwelling on this beautiful aspect of yourself. Think back on times when you were faced with other (or similar) challenges and this particular gift of yours served you in achieving that goal or overcoming that obstacle. How did it help you? How did you utilize it? How did it feel once it was accomplished?
This step is the opposite of negative self-talk.
Where the gremlin in your mind might say, “There’s no way you can do this,” the positive affirmation says, “You’ve done this before. Remember?”
5. Mentally Apply
Envision your upcoming goal and how this attribute is going to help you accomplish the goal that you are setting out to achieve. Visualize the ways you can draw on this incredible strength within you – one that you already posess – to address this new challenge.
Positive affirmations are a way of reminding yourself of the true positive aspects of who you are and the things you are capable of when you tap into your own power. In addition to using positive affirmations to face challenges and obstacles, you can use them daily to remind yourself of the wonder and power within you. From there, you can grow, develop, and evolve to be the greatest, strongest you that you ever knew you could be.