“How to” ? Developing a Daily Self-Affirmation Practice
We live in a society where it can be easy to get bogged down by negativity, self-doubt and self-criticism. Stating positive self-affirmations, either out loud or in our heads, has the ability to help us mitigate stress, improve self-esteem and experience improved wellbeing. Affirmations can also help us build clarity around what is important to us, what our goals are and what our intentions may be for the day ahead, the week ahead or the year ahead.
What are affirmations?
Affirmations are short statements that encourage us, and motivate us. They can help redirect our focus towards the positive, to focus on things within our control, and to energize us. Affirmations can help to build confidence and motivation in our lives, particularly when we feel overwhelmed. Remember: thoughts impact our feelings, which in turn impact our mood. Unfortunately, we cannot control which thought’s pop into our minds or when they do, but we can develop affirmations to create positive thoughts and moreover, a positive and empowering frame of mind. A healthier frame of mind leads to positive emotions which in turn, can lead to a lighter happier mood. Most importantly, affirmations are important because they help us to rely on ourselves for validation. With practice, we will begin to rely less on others to affirm our feelings, choices, needs, and self-worth and learn that we can affirm that for ourselves !
Do Affirmations work?
Yes! Affirmations can help us in so many ways: building confidence, creating motivation and energy, facilitating positive frames of mind and acting as a reflective tool to refocusing our intentions to what is important and meaningful to us, day to day. However, to be helpful, affirmations need to be simple, realistic and authentic to you. It is important to be reflective and develop some mindfulness around what is drawing you to certain affirmations. At times, we may feel like we “should” be self-affirming in certain ways because a.) others are doing it that way, b.) it feels more socially acceptable or c.) we read somewhere that this particular affirmation is the best one and can lead to the most transformative change. Other times, we set the bar really high for ourselves making it impossible to attain our affirmations or feeling the need to attain them perfectly on the first try and if we don’t, we feel such immense failure we abandon hope and the practice altogether. If this has happened to you, it's ok ! Developing new habits and building new practices take time. Be patient, and keep working on it !
There is no right or wrong affirmation statement, the right affirmation is based on what is best for yourself, your life and your needs at this very moment. How do you know what’s right for yourself? Let’s hit the “slow motion” button on life for a little while, and check-in to see where we are at. Perhaps set aside 3-5 minutes to relax, to tune into your thoughts, your feelings and any tension in the body. This will help you to understand where you’re at and what you might need to cope. There is no need to be perfect, there is only a need to be present for yourself. Here are a few ways to start the inner dialogue within yourself and to begin to notice what you need:
You can acknowledge your struggle. “In this moment, I am feeling tense and worried”. It is helpful to be honest with yourself and to validate your feelings!
You can also add phrases like, “I am practicing …”. This helps to eliminate those creeping feelings of perfectionism and overwhelming dread of failure. You are learning, you are practicing!
Choose affirmations that feel genuinely true to you. How do you know if an affirmation rings true for you? What do you feel in your body? In your heart?
How can I incorporate affirmation practices into my life?
Here are a few ways to start your new affirmation practices:
Journaling: Set aside a few minutes each morning or night, to journal your thoughts and feelings. You don’t need to edit this work, this is a “stream of consciousness” writing exercise where you just get to write exactly what you’re thinking and feeling at that present moment. This tool will help to build your understanding around what's most present in your life right now - what’s taking up the most space - what’s demanding the most attention. Once we know where we are at, we can choose an affirmation that can help us to cope.
Voicing: people often create a daily practice of saying affirmations aloud or silently at the same time every day, such as when they first wake up. You may also find it useful to repeat your affirmations during moments of stress as you would a mantra. Periodically, check in with yourself to see if your affirmations need to be adjusted or replaced with new affirmations.(psuychology today)
Music: if you have access to a music or podcast app/streaming service, it may be helpful to download affirmations there, and play them on the way to work, or on a walk outdoors.
Affirmation Card Decks: another tool of practicing positive affirmations is using an affirmation card deck. These can be purchased anywhere where books are usually sold, including Amazon. You can pull a card as your guided affirmation for the day or week, if you’re feeling spontaneous or in need of some inspiration as you begin this practice. They can even act as a visual reminder if you leave the deck out on your nightstand.
Planning: if you’re a planner or know you have a particularly busy work or family week ahead, you can schedule affirmations for each day of the week so they are set, and ready to be used. Add them to your calendar or add them in as reminders so you don't miss a day.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about self-affirmations, and look forward to incorporating this practice into your lives for some added love, gentleness and authenticity. Remember, you are allowed to be where you are and to show up as you are.