The Power of Positive Affirmations
Your psychologist may not tell you this, but you are probably your own worst enemy. Positive affirmations are a self-help technique that can help you gain confidence, validate yourself, and prevent you from sabotaging yourself.
Many times we look for words of encouragement and motivation in others, however, that store is not always open. But do you know who is always there to give you all the support you need? That’s right, yourself. So you guys better start liking each other.
Self-improvement is possible through professional help, forming habits and constant work, but there are tips that you can use to achieve small daily goals. Over time, those little steps will take you a long way and help you change your life for the better. Positive affirmations are not things of mystical energies or spiritual mantras, it is psychology and proven science. Although the vibes and spirituality are great, you should try them too!
This is how positive affirmations helped me to be more like myself, achieve small but significant goals every day, and have a better life.
The magic of positive affirmations
Surely you are already familiar with this method even if you do not know it. We have seen it hundreds of times in movies when the protagonist is about to ask the girl of her dreams out and says to himself:
“You got this. You can do it. You’re the man.”
I do it every day in front of the mirror before leaving for work and it’s awesome.
Those are positive affirmations and they help us to focus on situations in a more effective and, as the name says, positive.
Many times our greatest obstacle to achieving a goal, big or small, is having a correct mindset. It sounds cliché and like something a motivational coach would tell you rather than a terp, but it’s true. Our brains are made to adapt to situations and contexts, and many times that depends on perception. If you think you’re the coolest guy in school, your brain adapts to that, if you think you’re an underdog, your brain will too.
This ability to adapt is called neuroplasticity. It sounds like a superpower out of a comic book, but it’s one of the reasons we’ve survived as a species for so many years.
Positive affirmations are not only used for self-improvement, they have been used in therapy frequently. And it doesn’t just work to encourage me to do things that scare me every day, it’s a way of programming your brain to have a greater sense of reward.
If you beat yourself too hard all the time, you stop giving value to the goals you achieve. My internal speech affects my mental processes and therefore, my performance in things. Positive affirmations allow you to create changes in your cognitive-behavioral responses, not only do you act differently but you perceive things differently. See it as an upgrade rather than as a form of self-help.
How to use positive affirmations to improve your life
It is not something as simple as seeing yourself in the mirror every morning and saying to yourself “today I will have a great day”, it is changing the narrative that you have in your head when facing situations.
First, repetition is important, it is something that you must do constantly for your brain to adapt. Like when you teach a dog to sit, you have to do it several times.
Yes, I just compared you to a dog that can’t sit up.
If you have to speak in public and feel very nervous, your train of thought will go to a place like:
“Oh my gosh, I have to speak at the conference, I always sweat a lot and everyone will notice. I’m sure to stutter and make a fool of myself.”
And the main reason you have a difficult time speaking in public is that you got burdened with negative thinking. Change that narrative to the following:
“I’m an expert in the subject of which I should speak and I am fully qualified. I earned my place here, without a doubt everyone will appreciate what I have to say.”
That’s a positive affirmation, it’s actually programming you and not just a cheap self-help mantra. Focus on your strengths and change your thinking to be more confident and not sabotage yourself.
It is not a matter of words
Changing your narrative of thought is very important, but it is the actions that will finish programming your new way of acting while facing challenges. Not only must you tell yourself that you can give a Martin Luther King level speech, but you must also go and do it.
If you tell yourself that you can swim with sharks, you have to go into a cage in the middle of the Pacific and do it.
When you perform the actions of which you convince yourself that you can do, neuroplasticity activates. Simply put, your brain says “this son of a gun actually did it.”
Not only does it work for activities that terrify us, but you can also use positive affirmations to cope with boring tasks you never want to do.
If you’re stuck in traffic, you can say “I can enjoy this time without getting irritated” instead of grumbling and getting angry. This way, you will be more inclined to play music and carpool karaoke while you get home.
Words alone are not enough, you must act differently to have different achievements. Affirmations will give you a kick start.
Tips to keep in mind
Although positive affirmations helped me improve my life, it doesn’t mean you can’t do them wrong.
Apply these tips so that you get where you want and do not get stuck in empty statements:
They are not New Year’s resolutions. Your positive affirmations should not sound like goals that you want to set, they should sound like a reality. Make them in the present tense. I did not say to myself “I am going to achieve a promotion in my job”, I affirmed: “I am suitable to have a higher position and CRUSH it.”
Base them on reality. What differentiates positive affirmations from clichéd self-help phrases is that you do them by focusing on things that are true. You should not strive to create mystical qualities controlled by the Universe. If you want to start exercising, you should not try to convince yourself that you are The Rock or an Olympic athlete, to begin with, just state:
“I have the time and the correct discipline to start a new habit, I can consistently have a more fitness lifestyle.”
You can practice. I know it sounds like just thinking words of encouragement, but it’s a skill that you can improve. I practice a few minutes when I wake up, before going to work and without fail I do it every day. I have practically a daily routine where I dedicate myself to making positive affirmations.
Be patient. If it were something very easy, positive phrases on t-shirts would change our lives all the time. You must be aware that the changes will not be instantaneous, but if you are constant you will start to see them without doubts.
The path can be long and steep, and although you only need feet to hike it, a good pair of shoes helps.
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