As I’m sure you can tell by now, I am pretty passionate about affirmations. I have been fortunate enough to witness the profound effects that the use of regular affirmations can have on a person’s life in my therapeutic practice and from my own experiences. So in the previous posts we have looked at what affirmations are, how they work and how to write powerful and effective affirmations that work for you. For this final post on affirmations, we’ll be exploring the best ways to integrate them into your daily life.
There are many ways to use affirmations so it is best to experiment and find the way that resonates best with you. But before we get onto that, there are two essential ingredients that correlate to successful affirmations: Relaxation and Repetition.
Let’s take a look at relaxation first. Our minds and bodies are inextricably interconnected. When we are relaxed, we let go of the thinking mind, of what we think ought to be or should be. This is because our thoughts are tiny vibrations of nerve fibres, and so the more physically relaxed we become, the less vibration possible and the less thoughts we have. In this calm state of being we are more open to the possibility of what may be, and more receptive to the kind affirmations. Our doubts, judgement and critical thoughts can no longer block or dismiss the statements.
So before you do your affirmations take a few deep breaths into the belly to encourage the body to relax and soften. Perhaps even using a mantra such as “relax” or “let go” to enhance the state of relaxation. In doing so the mind will follow creating space for the positive words to take root.
Repetition is the key to success. A habit of a life time doesn’t change overnight, and nor will your thoughts. With repetition you strengthen these new neural pathways (check out last weeks post for a refresher), and weaken the old connections. Restructuring the brain or creating new thought patterns is like learning any other skill. Perhaps learning to play an instrument or a sport, or driving a car. At first you had to focus and concentrate, consciously thinking about each movement and decision. Now it comes like second nature, you barely give it a moment’s thought. That is because every time we repeat a certain action, we get better. Our brain strengthens the pathways and muscle memory until it can function on autopilot. Our thoughts are no different. With repetition, these kinder more constructive thoughts will be the automatic way of thinking. We won’t have to consciously think about having positive thoughts.
As a rule of thumb I recommend repeating your affirmations three times a day for at least 3-5 minutes a round. Don’t just rush through them, say the words with meaning, as if they are already true and you believe them 100%.
Speak Out Loud
Yes, I’ve been there and it can feel super cringeworthy, but in doing this you can hear the tone in which you are affirming. If it sounds weak and feeble, then guess what your new neural connections will be like…? You want your affirmations to be vocalised in a strong, confident and convincing manner to support strong, healthy pathways. Even if you don’t fully believe what you are affirming, say it as if you do. The most effective way that I have found is to stand in front of a mirror, look at yourself (gazing into your eyes works even better!!) and repeat your positive statement(s) out loud.
Write It Down
Finding privacy at work or during the day can be difficult, so a great way to ensure you don’t skip on your positive affirming is to write it down instead. Every time you write it down you are reinforcing the new belief into your muscle memory and mind. Seeing the words written down in front of you as you repeat the words in your mind serves to solidify and validate the statement. You may even notice how the style of your writing changes over time, an indication of how your mind perceives the new concept.
Post It Notes
When I first took the plunge to set up my own business I lacked self esteem and confidence. It was about this time that a great friend and mentor showed the wonders of a simple post-it-note. I bought a colourful pack and on each one wrote down my values, my motivation, my strengths and words of encouragement. I stuck them on my mirror and around my room so that I was constantly reminded and surrounded by positive energy. It really helped to reduce the little voices in my head that told me I couldn’t do it. Now this is something I do with my monthly affirmations. I stick them on the fridge, on doors and mirrors so that throughout the day I have little reminders that make me check in and reaffirm.
A great way to reinforce your affirmation is to anchor it in your body. When you say your affirmations place your hand over the part of the body that feels the negativity such as your stomach, your chest, your head, or simply by bringing your thumb and forefinger together and creating a little bit of pressure. This serves to create a “muscle memory”, connecting touch and thought. When we touch this body part we will automatically think of the positive affirmation without having to speak it out loud. By incorporating another sense we can also absorb and internalise the affirmation faster and deeper.
There is nothing that we do more every moment of every day than breathe, so learning to affirm with your breath is one of the most powerful practices you can adopt. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to this, so find a way that works for you. If your affirmation is a short phrase you may inhale, “I am”, Exhale “worthy”. Some people like to say their statement only on the inhale as if breathing that quality into the body; others prefer to repeat it on their out breath so that they can relax into the feeling of it. Or if you have a longer affirmation you may like to repeat it in your mind as your consciously breathe in and out; Inhale, “I’m bringing a positive attitude to every day.”, exhale, “I’m bringing a positive attitude to work every day.”
Alarm / Reminders
If you’re prone to forgetting or rushing about, you might find it helpful to set reminders or alarms on your phone. You can also get a bit creative with this such as wearing a piece of jewellery that symbolises or represents your affirmations so that each time you note it you are subconsciously reminded of your powerful statement. Remember it’s all about repetition so the more you find yourself thinking these positive thoughts, the faster the effects.
Check In and Tweak Them
Finally, your affirmations aren’t set in stone. As you change and grow or as life takes new turns, you might find that your affirmations need tweaking or updating. So check in with your statements regularly (monthly is a good guideline), to see any progress, amend existing ones or even create new ones that align with your current goals. We are always changing and so it is natural that our affirmations will too.
So now you’re ready to go affirm, create and live!
Much love as ever,
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