Clients often ask me, do affirmations really work? The answer is yes. They definitely work, provided you follow a few simple guidelines provided below.
Here’s why. In order to flourish in life, we need a ratio of three to one positive to negative thoughts. In relationships, the ratio needs to be even higher – five to one positive to negative thoughts. (So next time you find yourself mentally complaining that your hubby didn’t take out the trash, choose to think of five things you love about him. You’ll feel happy right away AND you’ll be happy to see him later.)
By saying positive affirmations, we are simultaneously increasing our ratio of positive thoughts. And let’s be honest…if you pay attention to your ratio, I’m sure you’ll find it’s often one positive to three negative, or two positive to two negative, or some other combination that’s less than three positive to one negative.
For example, sometimes I don’t want to work out. When I keep ruminating about why I don’t want to, I inevitably will avoid the workout. I’ll find a dozen reasons why it’s not the right choice. I have so many other things I could do instead. I don’t want to have to wash my hair again today. I could just do an intense workout tomorrow instead. I don’t feel like driving to the gym. What’s the point…I skipped the last couple of days so why not skip today too? I don’t want to put in the hard work. It’ll be too hard since I’ve skipped a few days. (Feel free to insert your own favorite workout-avoiding-excuse!)
Do you see how I’m negatively affirming working out? I’m telling myself it’s not worth it. It’s not in my best interests. It’s too much work.
However, when I catch myself playing this mental game, I can make the choice to turn it around by choosing a few positive thoughts. I feel amazing after I work out. My skin glows. My self-image improves. I feel accomplished. Working out helps me sleep better. I love rocking out to music when I workout. When I think those, I feel great and I feel motivated to get to the gym! I am positively affirming the results of working out. Try it yourself…do you notice the difference?
Taking it one step further, I can take those positive statements and create affirmations to preemptively avoid getting into that mental debate and skipping my work out. I nourish my mind, body and soul through exercise. I love feeling great and fitting in my skinny jeans. I make my health a priority. When I routinely utilize these affirmations I feel happier and my workouts are more consistent. Win/win.
Now for my guidelines….
#1 – Practice them consistently. Each affirmation is like making a deposit in your happiness bank account. The more you do them, the more happiness interest you’re accruing in your life. They can relate to any area of your life – relationships, love, money, health, etc. If you’re new to this, pick a time each day to say them, and stick to it. For example, when you’re showering. Or, when you’re brushing your teeth (and can look yourself in the eyes when you say it). The point is you don’t have to schedule additional time in your day to do them, unless you want to! Overtime you’ll find yourself naturally integrating them into your day. Writing affirmations can also be powerful – for those of you who already have or are interested in journaling.
If you fall off the affirmations bandwagon, just jump back on it. Don’t undo all of your positive work by punishing yourself or talking negatively to yourself. View it as taking a little vacation that’s over now.
#2 – Work on a gradient. When the affirmation is too far of a stretch from our reality, it can create internal stress. For example, I’ve gone rogue – abandoned the gym and gained weight. In that case, I’m not going to use an affirmation mentioning my skinny jeans because I’m too far away from fitting in them. It would make me feel bad about myself. However, I take care of my body might be a great one to get me back on track.
Similarly if you have $5 in your bank account from poor spending habits, an appropriate affirmation might sound like, I am financially responsible today and in the future. If you said an affirmation like, I am a millionaire, I bet you wouldn’t feel so great inside. That affirmation might work magic a year from now, though! Bottom line…set your affirmation to a level that makes you feel good inside without feeling any shame or guilt.
#3 – Believe. As you say your affirmation, don’t wonder, will it work? If you’re questioning your affirmation as you say it, you’re defeating the point of saying one. You’re giving off energy that isn’t aligned with the affirmation, and you likely won’t feel a shift or see a result. Instead, feel the affirmation as you say it and it’ll turbo charge your happiness and the results. If you have trouble feeling it, continue exploring until you find a positive one that feels good.
Happy affirming! J