Affirmations are helpful. They assist in creating intentions for our lives, opening ourselves to possibilities and opportunities, and forming a positive mindset.
But they aren’t enough. Repeating a statement such as “I love and approve of myself” or “I am enough” or “I am aligned with the energy of abundance” are uplifting and mood-enhancing, but they aren’t going to help us love and approve of ourselves, feel we are enough, or feel abundant unless we truly believe them.
It is essential to incorporate other practices that can help us create affirmations that are helpful and life-affirming. I’m including a practice I have learned about to create effective affirmations.
How Did Affirmations Become Popular?
Affirmations are statements we say to ourselves on a regular basis to enhance positive thinking, bring about self-empowerment, improve performance, reduce stress and anxiety, and create uplifting feelings, among others (Dunn, 2019).
Affirmations are ubiquitous now, but they were originally part of the self-help, self-development, and positive psychology movements. They were popularized with the rise of New Age and New Thought through people such as Louise Hay in her book You Can Heal Your Life in the 1980’s and Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret in the 2000’s as well as many others. I have written about Louise Hay and about The Secret in previous posts.
Practices to Incorporate with Affirmations
Affirmations are effective if we have the ability to truly create a mental shift. Affirmations on their own aren’t going to create the shift. We have to create that shift and then use affirmations to confirm and assert this shift.
For this, Deep Patel, author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success states that it is necessary for us to create shifts such as to envision the life we want and get clear on what is important to us, cut out what doesn’t matter, take action, remove ourselves from bad situations, find activities that create growth, show compassion for ourselves and others, and keep focused on our journey (Patel, 2018).
How I interpret his approach is to get clear on what we want to improve upon. Let’s say we want to improve love and accept ourselves. The first step is to get clear on who we are and see ourselves in all of our virtues. List out what we most appreciate about ourselves and what helps us feel strong and joyful. It is also important to list the aspects we don’t like about ourselves for accepting who we are involves taking in the negative with the positive.
We should identify the activities, situations, and people who make us feel loving and accepting towards ourselves, as these help us build and improve upon our self-supportive feelings. We should more of these and spend more time with these people. This also includes identifying those that bring us down and finding ways to reduce or cut these out of our lives.
If we want to appreciate ourselves more, this means becoming aware of the times we are most critical of ourselves. This is crucial, for no matter how positive we want to feel about ourselves, unless we cease to be our own worst critic, we won’t feel loving and accepting of who we are.
Awareness is the first step, and although awareness will not stop the self-critical behavior it will help us become cognizant of how we treat ourselves and of the circumstances that make us feel self-critical.
From this point of awareness, we can begin to take action to correct it. When we are aware that we are criticizing ourselves, we can stop and instead pivot to notice things that we do love and appreciate about ourselves. Another technique is to look at what we are being critical of and express gratitude instead. For instance, if we are critical of our feet because they look weird, rather than criticize how our toes twist in a strange manner, express gratitude to our feet for helping to take us places.
Consistence and repetition are key, as they are with any new practice we want to incorporate. The more we are able to pivot and feel appreciation and gratitude for who we are, how we look, how we act, what we do, and how we carry ourselves, the more loving and accepting we will be of ourselves.
I have over-simplified this example to make my point but understand that any approach we take requires work. No affirmation will work unless we increase our self-awareness and take the appropriate action required to make it become a reality.
On a separate note, I am taking a hiatus from writing these articles. Although it is April 1st, I am not saying this in jest. I’m not one to partake in April Fool’s jokes. I’m not sure how long I will be pausing them for, but I will be back. Wishing you all the best until we meet again.
Dunn, C. W. (2019). 10 things you can do to boost self-confidence. Entrepreneur. Retrieved on March 31, 2019 from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/281874
Patel, D. (2018). 16 mental shifts for living a happier, wealthier, more successful life. Entrepreneur- Life Hack. Retrieved on March 31, 2019 from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/319789