A decade ago I would have said affirmations were “woo woo”, “out there” or “cooky.” I associated it with chanting corny, overly optimistic quotes in front of a mirror. I definitely would have said it wasn’t my thing.
Until I tried it for myself about three years ago.
Yes, I did chant sometimes corny, sometimes overly optimistic quotes in front of a mirror. Yes, I did feel super self-conscious and silly doing it. But, more importantly, yes, I believe it works.
From reading happiness research and neuroscience articles, I began to understand our brain’s ability to rewire itself. This along with a lot of the self-help books I was reading, whether they were about self-love, being more successful, finding our purpose, establishing habits, becoming more mindful, getting into the writer’s mindset, they all seemed to point at the power of positive thinking and getting rid of negative self-talk and changing our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities.
And the way to do all this? Affirmations, in some form or another — basically repeating something positive over and over to ourselves so that it replaces our negative beliefs — certainly came up repeatedly.
It’s accessible, you can do it anytime, anywhere, it doesn’t take much time or effort — you could do it while the tea kettle boils — and experts say it works. What did I have to lose?
A good universal affirmation to start with is something as simple as: “I am enough.” This is a good one because most people do not feel they are enough in some respect or other — not good enough, thin enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc. This negative belief then shapes a lot of our thoughts and actions and prevents us from achieving the things we want.
I started with this in front of a mirror every morning.
When I decided to focus on becoming a novelist, I started saying “I am a writer” as well. Practicing saying this made it easy for me to tell others that I was a writer. I did not say “I’m sort of a writer” or “I’m an aspiring writer” or “I’d like to be a writer one day.” I simply said, “I am a writer.”
I didn’t want to be that person that talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. Since I was telling everyone I was a writer, then I had to start acting like a writer and well, write.
This is one way in which affirmations can change beliefs, which can change actions.
I’ve added other things to the affirmations I say, which I try to do first thing every morning as part of my morning routine, though I’m by no means perfect (and that’s okay, too).
What I can say is it gets easy, I feel comfortable saying my affirmations, and overall I feel more confident, like myself better and feel way more like a writer than I did three years ago.
So really, what do you have to lose?
For more on the topic, how to do it and some affirmations to try, read this great article on the effect of daily affirmations on our subconscious mind, health and happiness.