October 12, 2020

Why Affirmations Work & How To Use Them

Have you ever been called out for being negative all the time?

Have you ever felt like people were talking about you, or didn’t feel comfortable being around you?

woman wearing black and multicolored blouse and blue denim jeans facing mirror inside white concrete room

We all have an inner demon, that inner critic we tend to listen to more often than the comments we hear our loved ones say to us. This inner voice needs to be tamed. We need to control our minds – and learn how to not let our minds control us.

It’s important that we learn how to listen to our loved ones when they give us compliments, and embrace their sincere love. Their perspectives, an outside perspective, is often a more accurate view of reality than the darkened corner of our mind we can get stuck in. A narrow-distorted view we have from the inside, tainted with biased criticism.

We can choose to keep “safe” in what we’ve always believed, or we can challenge ourselves to take a step back and choose to consider a different perspective – a more positive perspective.

It’s like living your life afraid of climbing a mountain for fear of falling, or doubting you could ever reach the top – but if you take it one step at a time, trusting in yourself to do something you’ve never done before, in the end not only will you see an incredible view, a perspective you never could see had you remained at the bottom of the mountain; you’ll see how far you’ve come, you’ll notice your accomplishments and celebrate them, and your body will also physically benefit from the journey – you will literally become a stronger person! So it is with learning how to accept a more positive inner belief. You’ll learn how to climb that mountain of doubt, and see yourself in a much more beautiful way.

person standing in front of mountain landscape photography

I remember when I was newly married with an eating disorder and increasing fear of how others viewed my body. I wanted to be intimately close to my husband, but I hated how I felt in my skin and the shape of my body. I felt like a complete failure for gaining weight and struggling to lose it. My husband reassured me he thought I was beautiful, but I hated myself and it was difficult to believe how anybody could find me beautiful…

It was a challenge to learn how to be vulnerable when my self-worth was caged in with this swarm of persistent insults and criticism inside my head. I needed help, and that is when I was first introduced to the book written by Louise Hay ‘You Can Heal Your Life‘ , by my therapist at the time.

It was by consistent daily use of affirmations that I first learned how to start the journey in learning how to love myself, completely, and also accept and believe others when they would compliment me. Through reprogramming my brain – replacing negative thoughts with positive affirming thoughts I started to heal my mind in a very powerful way

“The development of self-affirmation theory has led to neuroscientific research aimed at investigating whether we can see any changes in the brain when we self-affirm in positive ways.

There is MRI evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016). If you want to be super specific, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—involved in positive valuation and self-related information processing—becomes more active when we consider our personal values (Falk et al., 2015; Cascio et al., 2016).”

– Catherine Moore, Psychologist, MBA “Positive Daily Affirmations: Is There Science Behind It?

Since that period of my life during 2008-2018, I have since observed affirmations grow in popularity. We often don’t recognize how damaging our thoughts can be to our physical bodies until its too late and we’ve developed chronic illnesses and deep rooted beliefs that can take years to heal from. Our brain will believe whatever we tell it, so if you believe yourself to be ‘fat’, ‘stupid’, ‘lazy’ or any other negative belief – just as a computer will obey every command you give it, so will your ‘super computer’ brain obey whatever belief you allow to replay over and over again in your mind, whether consciously or subconsciously. We can choose to replay negative, or positive thoughts.

The use and practice of positive affirmations, when intentionally spoken out loud, written down in a journal, or read every day on your phone or printed quote on your bathroom mirror; over time those thoughts will literally rewrite your belief pattern in your subconscious like a new software upgrade being installed to your computer – and your physical body will respond accordingly (positive beliefs = positive physical results) 🙂 . This is because your brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real or what is fantasy.

“For example, the fear of failure, according to Heinz Kohut, the grandfather of psychology of the self, is often intimately connected to a childhood fear of being abandoned, either physically or emotionally. When we fear failure, we tend to overestimate the risk we’re taking and imagine the worst possible scenario—the emotional equivalent of our primary caretakers deserting us. What we picture is so dreadful that we convince ourselves we shouldn’t even try to change. We avoid opportunities for success, and then when we fail, the unwholesome affirmation we unwittingly re-confirm is “Success just isn’t written in my stars,” or “It’s just not in my karma!”

If an unwholesome belief is deeply rooted in our unconscious mind, then it has the ability to override a positive affirmation, even if we aren’t aware of it. This is why, for many people, affirmations don’t seem to work: Their afflicted thought patterns are so strong that they knock out the effect of the positive statement. So how can we add more muscle to an affirmation, so that it has the power to triumph over our negative thinking?

– Ronald Alexander Ph.D. “5 Steps to Make Affirmations Work for You

How To Make Affirmations Work For You

The risk of allowing your negative thoughts to remain after a failed attempt in using and practicing positive affirmations, is they take root and feed off of your obsession and true addiction to criticizing yourself. We feel a sense of accomplishment every time we validate our feelings, whether they be positive or negative. Negative thoughts/beliefs will find ways to reaffirm their truth… this festers and spreads, affecting your mood, your outlook on life— further breeding negativity that will overflow into your relationships, school performance, and workplace performance.

As I began to notice myself progressively healing in all aspects of my personal life after including positive affirmation practice to my day-to-day life, I began to receive compliments from others. “You’re doing so well!” they would say, as I achieved a major milestones in healing my anxiety, the way I would recover more quickly from an episode of depression, and how I would carry myself – no longer obsessed over how I looked in clothes, or feeling self-conscious if I wore makeup or not in front of others. I was starting to find myself beautiful as I was, instead of what I expected or believed others wanted to see from me.

I was beginning to become my own advocate, loving, and protecting myself in loving ways. I was at complete peace – being me.

For example, the most significant compliment I ever received was from my sister in-law, 10 years after I began to consistently practice daily positive affirmations, she said, “Becky, you’re a lot more comfortable to be around.” My old self would have read into this and subconsciously use this comment as a negative affirmation, believing that I was a burden to have around. But my newfound confidence in myself heard from her that I was a comfortable person to have around. I was a relaxed individual who rubbed off joy and love on to others! Because I loved myself. This reaffirmed that what I was teaching myself to believe about myself – through the practice of intentional positive affirmation use, was coming true! It was working!

“The problem with negative thoughts is that they can become self-fulfilling prophecies. We talk ourselves into believing that we’re not good enough. And, as a result, these thoughts drag down our personal lives, our relationships, and our careers.

But, if we deliberately do the opposite and use positive thoughts about ourselves, the effect can be just as powerful but far more helpful.”

Using Affirmations Harnessing Positive Thinking” – Mind Tools

Start Small & Realistic

Below I’ll share 5 ways that I practice affirmations, and then I’ll share a list of affirmations I’ve written myself, and a collection of favorites I adopted from other affirmation gurus like Louise Hay 🙂

  1. Discover Your Affirmations: Write a list of your current negative beliefs (i.e. I am fat, I am a failure, I am slow, etc) on the left side of a paper, and on the right side of the paper – directly across from each of your negative beliefs to the left, write an affirmation on the positive end (i.e. “I am beautiful just the way I am, my size does not determine my value to others”, “I haven’t failed, I have only collected feedback”, “I am taking life one step at a time, there is no race, I am moving at the speed necessary for me to achieve success”.
  2. Choose only 5 affirmations [to start practicing] from that list that you feel will be the most beneficial in strengthening your confidence. Add to your list of 5, a bonus affirmation that is necessary for everyone to use… add “I forgive you, thank you, I love you.” Say this one often throughout each day.
  3. Each morning and night (and during the day as needed), speak your affirmations outloud to yourself in the mirror. This is the most intimidating, and probably the hardest to do, but it is the best way to start using affirmations. As you get used to using affirmations throughout the day, you can speak them out loud less, and write them, or read them, more often as the norm.
  4. Begin a habit of journal writing, as it is a proven benefit when working on healing your mind. Include written affirmations wherever you write notes.

    “Writing helps eliminate “it sounded good in my head” syndrome. It forces ideas to be laid out bare for the thinker to see, where it is much less likely that they will be jumbled up like they are in your head…”
    – SparringMind ‘Benefits of Writing
  5. Print out positive affirmations and tape them to your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, office, any place in your home where you will come across and glance at them on a regular basis. I would also recommend installing an app on your phone that will post a notification throughout the day with your affirmations. I have installed to my phone the app ‘My Affirmations: Live Positive‘ it alerts me throughout the day with my selected affirmations.

My Affirmations

Below are the affirmations that I have written and practice daily (I have this list set as notification alerts on my phone throughout the day). I often write new affirmations in my journal depending on what I’m struggling with recently (i.e. self doubt, insecurity, faith, fear, etc)… I am also including a PDF of my affirmations + those of some of my favorite authors, in a link below these lists. Feel free to download and print these to hang on your mirror and office, or bedroom wall. 🙂 💚

People respect me because I respect myself.

I love myself, and I love that I am different than others.

My body is strong and beautiful.

I find it easy to say no and own my life.

Plant a seed with faith and watch it grow with knowledge.

I am strong and capable of positive change.

I can do difficult things!

When I eat something I don’t need I am robbing myself of physical health and mental stability.

The struggle is the work.
The trial is the plan.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be,
doing what I am supposed to do,
to learn what I need to learn,
to go where I need to go.

– Becky Cooper

I will pray for strength to live true to the desires of my heart, because I know I cannot do this alone. I allow God to fill me with His healing light and wisdom.

My Favorite Affirmations from Books I’ve Read

Louise Hay Affirmations:

  • All is well in my world. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe!
  • I am in the process of positive change.
  • I am willing to let go.
  • Whatever I need to know is revealed to me at exactly the right time.
  • I am loved, and I am at peace.
  • I am healthy, whole, and complete.
  • I am very thankful for all the love in my life. I find it everywhere.
  • I forgive myself for not being perfect.
  • I do not have to prove myself to anyone.
  • Loving others is easy when I love and accept myself.
  • I am in charge, I now take my own power back.
  • Love flows through my body, healing all dis-ease.
  • I am constantly discovering new ways to improve my health.
  • I trust the Universe to help me see the good in everything and in everyone.
  • I love and approve of myself.

Wayne Dyer Affirmations:

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”

– Wayne Dyer
  • All things are unfolding as they are supposed to.
  • When I bring myself to grief, it is healing.
  • Whatever I need is already here, and it is all for my highest good.
  • I live in a Divinely inspired Universe. I have nothing to fear. I trust in myself, and when I do so, I trust in the very Wisdom that created me.
  • I release the inclination to make anyone else wrong.
  • I have everything I need for complete peace and total happiness right now.
  • Being myself involves no risks. It is my ultimate truth, and I live it fearlessly.

Deepak Chopra Affirmations:

  • I release all fear and worry.
  • I am always safe.
  • My body is balanced, young, and healthy.
  • My home reflects my energy of love and acceptance.
  • I am one with higher wisdom and awareness, immediately, now, eternally.
  • All channels of my mind are open to receive from my higher thoughts.
  • As my transcendent higher self possesses my body, I accept all guidance to receive increased abundance.

Download PDF of All Affirmations

I hope these affirmations can help you get started on your journey of healing your mind and body. If this article has been helpful for you, please share it with any friends or family you feel could benefit from learning about affirmations. 🙂 💚

About the author

Becky Cooper, Certified Brain Health Coach. Often times we find ourselves in need of support in accomplishing life, health, and mindful goals. It takes a great amount of courage to recognize that you can’t do everything alone— we sometimes need someone to help us be accountable to what we truly desire to accomplish in life.  It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child; I feel it takes a tribe to help raise each other [up]. This is at the heart of what I do. 💚  I have found life to be easier when I accept that I am a 'work in progress', and that's enough. While I continue to learn and progress, taking life one step at a time, I can invite others along my journey and help them too; teaching them what I have learned, and encourage them. In December of 2020 I completed the Brain Health training course directed by Dr. Daniel Amen, graduating with the official certification as an Amen Clinics Certified Brain Health Coach. This not only has helped me learn valuable solutions to help myself heal, but also help others who feel the same way as I do; others who are also in search of healing.Read More...


Affirmations, Mental Health Monday

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