Affirmations: What are they and how do they work?

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We’ve previously discussed ideas about how happiness and our attitudes are a choice we make. One concept you may have heard a few celebrities such as Miranda Kerr mention is affirmations. It can sound a little ridiculous for those who haven’t tried it so let’s have a look at the concept behind it and why some people swear by them.

Affirmations are short declarations a person makes to themselves to promote self-love and achieve goals. They work on three main levels to create an environment for change and happiness.

They focus your awareness on your goals. Vocalising your goals and feelings is important to acknowledge their existence and what you want to come from that. Too often our thoughts are left to wander in vague feelings of dissatisfaction without identifying it’s roots and it’s solution. Once you can do these things you can move forward in changing them.

Affirmations work on the idea that once you force your mind to attend to a subject on a regular basis, it will bring it to the forefront of your consciousness. For example if your goal is to eat healthier the affirmation can work as a reminder to be attentive to your food choices and habits. On a subconscious level you will also begin to notice health food stores, organic foods and better options everywhere because your awareness is focused on this idea.

For some people affirmations can be useful to replace the negative script they repeatedly tell themselves. If you find your internal monologue often leans towards self-hating messages such as “I’m worthless”, “I’m ugly”, “I’m fat”, turn them into positive affirmations that foster self-love, gratitude and respect, “I am worthy of love and happiness”, “I am grateful to have food in my belly and a roof over my head”.

Affirmations can be used to set goals, such as “I will quit smoking”. Some people struggle with the tension goal-orientated affirmations make within oneself when they feel they don’t match reality. This is not always a bad thing! Discomfort motivates us to change. Repeating your affirmations reminds yourself to wake up with a refreshed commitment to your goals despite whatever set backs you may have experienced. Daily smaller goals may be useful to foster a sense of accomplishment such as “Today I will be smoke free”.

If you want to give it a try start by writing a few affirmations that may be goal-oriented or aim to counter your negative self talk, such as “I will bring my best efforts to my study this semester” or “I will approach today with a peaceful and attentive mind”. Begin with words like “I am”, “I can” and “I will”. The key is repetition, begin and end each day by saying your affirmation, write it on some post-it notes and place them on your mirror or around your room. Over time your affirmations will move from your conscious vocalisation to your subconscious. Like starting any new habit or the breaking of an old one a period of 21 days is an estimated amount of time it takes to feel positive changes in your attitude and maintain a habit.

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The Mind Centre was a counselling and meditation centre for several years before morphing into an information centre for people seeking to know more about mind and body health.

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