Positive affirmations: Why you need a personal pep-talk

If you’re ready to cartwheel down a path to greater wellbeing, pom poms in hand, here’s everything you need to know to make positive affirmations work for you.

Little voice in your head giving you a hard time?

“I’m not smart enough for this job.”

“I’m too busy to exercise.”

“I can’t.”

Perhaps it’s time you tried some positive affirmations.

Packed with life-affirming, anxiety-busting and self-esteem boosting powers, a positive affirmation or two can banish the Debbie Downer in your head and transform you into your own biggest cheerleader.

What is a positive affirmation?

Like a pep-talk you give yourself, a positive affirmation is a motivational phrase or statement to challenge negative thoughts and self-talk.

And apparently we’re all on the hunt for a good one.

In 2021, Google searches for affirmations reached an all-time worldwide high, a likely outcome of the pandemic according to psychotherapist and mindset coach Jon Unal.

“People are looking into different ways to empower themselves and create change in their lives,” Jon, founder of Conscious Beginnings, says.

And the good news is, anyone with an open mind can benefit from positive affirmations.

How do positive affirmations work?

In the same way that frequent workouts boost your physical health, regularly reciting positive affirmations can improve your mental health.

“Our thoughts and beliefs end up creating our reality,” Jon says.

“Using affirmations can help us create an identity that we want to move into – such as I am healthy, athletic, rich, abundant, joyful.”

And just like bootcamp, the longer you stick with it the easier it gets.

“The more you repeat them, the more you believe them,” Jon says.

“The more you believe them, the more you act in alignment with them, until they become your reality.”

What are the benefits of positive affirmations?

More than just giving you warm fuzzies, neuroscientific research shows positive affirmations and thinking actually activate the reward centres in the brain.

Put simply, they train us to head towards good and away from bad.

Because of this, positive people experience lower rates of depression and anxiety.

They can even have a greater resistance to illness and pain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, one possible theory behind these amazing health benefits is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

How to get started with positive affirmations

First, take a moment to reflect on what it is you want to achieve, Jon recommends.

Ask yourself:

What do you want to experience?

What would make you happy?

What kind of relationships do you want?

What is your career going to look like?

Then, write an affirmation as though you have already achieved it.

Founder and CEO of Mind Coaching Australia, Judith Lissing, says it’s important to understand that positive affirmations are not a “quick fix”.

In fact, flipping the script on a negative internal monologue can be a serious mind marathon.

“Think of how often you tell yourself negative phrases – I can’t, I shouldn’t, I’ll never – and then triple it for the number of positive affirmations you’ll need,” Judith says.

“Repeat your affirmations with every spare moment of every day.

“To make positive changes in your life you need to breathe it in and believe every word.”

Tips for writing your own positive affirmations

It’s always best to write your own affirmations since your life is unique to you!

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be a positive affirmation wordsmith in no time.

  • Keep it simple, the fewer words the better.
  • Make it believable.
  • Lyrical is good – it makes it easy to remember and repeat.
  • Phrase in the present (I am) and the positive (I can).
  • Don’t only look for what you can get, also look for what you can give back.
  • Don’t be too prescriptive. Instead of “I weigh 75kg” say “I am at my perfect weight”.

Warm up with these ready-made affirmations.

  • I am a non-smoker.
  • I love to feel fit.
  • I sleep well every night.
  • I am at my perfect weight.
  • I do my best and my best is great.
  • I am loved and loving.
  • The perfect job/man/woman/house/etc is coming to me, the perfect x is here.
  • I give my all and receive in abundance.
  • I am powerful.
  • I am abundant.

Written by Emma Schafer.