We often think - or at least I always thought - that the way we think is something which is fixed. That our thoughts are who we are - our personality that we're born with, something that can't be changed.
As it turns out, we're not born with our thoughts.
The way we think is something we learn over time from the people around us. And the good thing is, just as we learn our thought patterns from the people around us, we can unlearn those thought patterns, and replace them with more positive and helpful thoughts.
Thoughts that help us to become better versions of ourselves. Thoughts that empower us, give us confidence and a give us a greater sense of self-worth. Thoughts that make us kinder, more forgiving, more at peace with ourselves and with others around us.
What are positive affirmations?
Positive affirmations are simply positive statements that you say about yourself, always in the first person, always in the present tense, and always as if they are true for you right now.
Positive affirmations are things such as, 'I can do whatever I set my mind to,' 'I have the courage to chase my dreams,' 'I love myself exactly as I am, right now.'
When you start to really believe and internalise positive affirmations they have the power to make you feel so good about yourself; they can transform a negative inner voice into a positive inner voice; they can boost your confidence and make you feel inspired, and this in turn leads to taking positive action in your actual, real life, outside of your head.
You may be thinking that all of this positive affirmation stuff sounds a bit too simplistic - how can simply saying positive statements make any real, lasting and meaningful change to something as deeply rooted into our being as the way we think?
And you would be right. It's not enough to just say the affirmations.
A seed of belief
Firstly, it's important that there's at least a seed of belief within you when you say an affirmation. For example, let's take the positive affirmation, "I am a money magnet." You may not feel that this affirmation is true for you in the present moment, but you need to be open to the possibility that it can be true for you; you need to be open to the idea of growing your belief, and growing the strength with which you really feel these words to be true for you.
Importance of daily repetition
Secondly, as is the case with most things in life, to make any sort of meaningful progress you need to be dedicated; you need to keep working with your affirmations in a regular and habitual way. In the same way that a plant needs daily sunshine and water to blossom and grow, positive affirmations need daily contemplation and repetition to grow.
Finally, in order to grow and strengthen the depth of our belief and trust in the affirmations, we need to actively engage with the positive affirmations in different ways. We need to work through each affirmation in a conscious way, dealing with any negativity or resistance which may come up. Below are some of the ways we can engage with and work with positive affirmations.
How to work with positive affirmations
1. Listen to audio recordings of positive affirmations
One of the quickest and most simple of ways to get going with positive affirmation work is to listen to audio recordings. There are plenty of audio recordings available on the Internet, and YouTube is a pretty good place to start your search. I'd particularly recommend checking out the Yoga with Kassandra YouTube channel, which has some excellent positive affirmation meditations. Also, anything by Louise Hay would be another good starting point.
The great thing about audio recordings is that they're so easy to integrate into a busy life schedule. Simply put the recordings on in the background whilst doing other things: put them on whilst driving, whilst cooking dinner, whilst taking a bath, whilst falling asleep at night, whilst out walking or jogging, and so on and so forth...
Louise Hay was an American self-help and motivational author, who spoke about the power of a positive mindset. She is considered the original creator of positive affirmations, and I recommend her book, I can do it: how to use affirmations to change your life.
I can do it: how to use affirmations to change your life.
Learn how to eliminate negativity and replace it with positive affirmations to give you the confidence to attain the wonderful, joy-filled life you deserve!
If Louise Hay was the queen of positive affirmations, then Kassandra Reinhardt is the princess of positive affirmations.
Kassandra is an online yoga teacher with a hugely popular YouTube channel. Her teaching is heavily influenced by Louise Hay, and a lot of her videos uniquely combine yoga with positive affirmations.
2. Create and record your own positive affirmations
Whilst it's a great first step to listen to recordings created by other people, it's even better to create and record your own unique list of positive affirmations - based on your situation, and the specific goals and outcomes you desire. The more we can personalise the work we're doing, making it unique to our own individual needs, the more we will ultimately gain from the process.
In the video below Kassandra Reinhardt talks about the power of positive affirmations (from 18 minutes and 45 seconds in), and in particular she talks about the effectiveness of recording yourself saying your own positive affirmations (from 20 minutes in). She talks about how it is so much more potent and powerful to hear your own voice stating these positive things, rather than just listening to someone else tell these things to you.
I definitely agree.
Over the last several months I have created and listened to my own recordings of myself saying positive affirmations, and I have found it to be so incredibly powerful; there is something about hearing your own voice talking to yourself, which deeply connects with you, in a way that listening to someone else's voice just can't match.
3. Exercise and positive affirmations
Things can be taken up yet another level by combining positive affirmations with exercise.
In the above video Kassandra says, "there's something about being physically active, and getting your endorphins running, and listening to those positive statements, which just makes me feel like I'm on top of the world."
Again, I couldn't agree more with this.
I love listening to my own positive affirmations whilst I'm out walking or jogging.
By combining exercise and positive affirmations, we're learning to associate our positive affirmations with those elevated feelings of wellness and happiness that exercise brings.
4. Yin yoga and positive affirmations
Combining yin yoga poses with positive affirmations is a unique way of working, created by Kassandra Reinhardt. Kassandra often says in her yin yoga affirmation videos that, by gradually stretching and opening up our physical body, we're gaining deeper access to the emotional, mental and spiritual layers of our self.
Indeed, it is a widely held belief by yoga practitioners generally, that emotions are stored physically within the body, and that by stretching out those areas of the body where painful or repressed emotions are stored, we can work on releasing those emotions - both physically and mentally.
So when combining yin yoga poses with positive affirmation work, we're working through our emotions on both a mental level and a physical level concurrently.
For example, let's take the "I am a money magnet" affirmation from above.
Whilst holding your yin yoga pose, you can internally repeat this affirmation to yourself. You can observe how this affirmation makes you feel. Do you really believe that you're a money magnet? Does it make you feel good when you say this affirmation? Or does the affirmation make you feel anxious, tense or fearful in some way? If the affirmation brings up negative thoughts and feelings, it probably means this is an affirmation which needs further work and exploration, to figure out why it makes you feel this way.
The video below is a great introduction to using yin yoga with positive affirmations. It is one of Kassandra's shorter yin yoga videos at only 30 minutes long, and it contains some beautiful affirmations to work with, on the theme of self-love and healing - affirmations such as, "I forgive myself and I set myself free" and "I love every cell of my body."
5. Journaling around positive affirmations
Journaling is a great way to dig deeper around the affirmations that raise negative thoughts and feelings within you.
I briefly talked about shadow work back in week 23 of my weight loss journey. Well, this 'digging deeper' around affirmations through journaling, is again a form of shadow work, allowing us to bring to the surface any repressed thoughts or feelings, which may be holding us back.
Up until recently I never bothered with journaling; I thought it was enough to just think things through in my head. Now though, I realise there's something immensely powerful about the process of getting thoughts out of the head, and down onto paper.
I now find myself journaling not just around the affirmations I'm working on, but also whenever any feeling of unease or anxiety arises within me. It's amazing how writing things down brings clarity to your thoughts, and helps to release those anxieties.
Examples of positive affirmations
Here are a few of my favourite positive affirmations at the moment, which are helping me to be more kind and forgiving towards myself.
I did my best today, and that's enough.
This is something I often say to myself at the end of the day. It is a kind and forgiving statement, which helps me to let go, regardless of how much I got done, or how well I believe things went.
I'm doing really well. Keep going!
This is something I say to myself during those days where I feel like I'm struggling to stay focused and moving forward with things. Perhaps I'm a bit tired and foggy-headed. Perhaps my thoughts aren't flowing. Perhaps my working day just isn't as feeling as productive as I'd like it to be.
This simple statement helps to keep me in a positive frame of mind at these times, and often, that positive mental nudge is enough to get me back into a good flow with things.
I have more than enough time in my day for all that I need to do.
Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed with all of the different tasks and activities I have to fit into each day. Feelings of panic and being overwhelmed do absolutely nothing to help me. Those feelings just make it more inevitable that I will be overwhelmed and that I won't get everything done.
Saying the above affirmation at the start of my day helps to calm me down, and slow me down. As soon as I slow my thoughts down, I'm able to move through things in a much more steady, productive and forward flowing manner, usually finding that I do have enough time for everything - as long as I stay calm and focused.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life!
This is something I love to say to myself as soon as I wake up in the morning. It helps me to start the day full of positive intention, and it 'clears the slate' on any previous days, where perhaps things didn't go as well as I might have hoped.
Admittedly, this one is a lot easier to say with feeling and enthusiasm on the mornings where I've had a great night of sleep, and where I wake up to find the birds singing, and the sun streaming through the bedroom window.
Sometimes I awake after a bad night of sleep, feeling grumpy and tired. On those days, it's more difficult to say this affirmation with the spirit and enthusiasm that it deserves!
I am unique, and it is my greatest strength.
This final affirmation floats through my head a lot at the moment. It reminds me of my own value and self-worth. It reminds me of how important it is to just be authentic and true to who we really are.