What Are Affirmations, and Do They Work?
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes.
You might consider affirmations to be unrealistic "wishful thinking." But try looking at positive affirmations this way: many of us do repetitive exercises to improve our physical health, and affirmations are like exercises for our mind and outlook. These positive mental repetitions can reprogram our thinking patterns so that, over time, we begin to think – and act – differently.
For example, evidence suggests that affirmations can help you to perform better at work. According to researchers, spending just a few minutes thinking about your best qualities before a high-pressure meeting – a performance review, for example – can calm your nerves, increase your confidence, and improve your chances of a successful outcome.
Self-affirmation may also help to mitigate the effects of stress. In one study, a short affirmation exercise boosted the problem-solving abilities of "chronically stressed" subjects to the same level as those with low stress.
What's more, affirmations have been used to successfully treat people with low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health conditions. And they have been shown to stimulate the areas in our brains that make us more likely to effect positive changes in regard to our health.
This latter study suggests that a stronger sense of self-worth makes you more likely to improve your own well-being. So, for example, if you're worried that you eat too much and don't get enough exercise , using affirmations to remind yourself of your values can spur you on to change your behaviour.