A common question I see from people just beginning their personal development journey is, “How do I create effective affirmations?” Often they will go in search of existing affirmations that they can apply to their own situation, but they may or may not find something that works for them.
In my experience, it is much simpler to come up with our own personal affirmations because they’ll get right to the heart of the matter like nothing else can!
First, let’s explore the reasons for using affirmations so we can be clear about our objectives in writing them. An affirmation is most often used to help us think and feel more positive, empowered, and in control of a particular situation. On a deeper level, an affirmation is meant to ALTER OUR EXISTING BELIEFS.
Remember that our current circumstances are a direct result of our past thinking. In order to change our future experiences, we need to change our current thinking. You might find it helpful to first get clear about exactly what your current beliefs are. Think about the various aspects of your life, like your career, financial status, relationships, health, and so on. As you think about these situations, ask yourself what beliefs they reveal. If you have a lot of financial struggles, your existing belief might be, “I don’t have enough money,” or “I can’t stop accumulating debt.” Because you believe these things, your outer circumstances have come together in such a way that supports your beliefs.
Affirmations can help us change our beliefs, if they are worded correctly.
The first thing to understand is the importance of wording affirmations in present tense. Notice the difference in feelings you get from saying, “I will eat healthful, nutritious foods and exercise each day”, or “I enjoy eating healthful, nutritious foods and exercising each day.” The second statement makes the affirmation part of your experience NOW, while the first keeps the reality off in some uncertain future period of time.
Okay, so wording affirmations in the present tense is important, but how can we tell which words will give us the result we desire? The clues lie in our existing circumstances and beliefs.
If you are unhappy with the size or state of your body, you have been holding a belief that you are unhealthy, weak, unworthy, or lacking in beauty. In order to change your negative belief about your body, you must embrace a more positive belief. “I am healthy, strong, lean, and sexy” would be a good affirmation to begin changing this perception, but remember that it will first seem like you’re lying to yourself. Even though you are saying the words, you are not feeling the truth of such a statement.
Consistent repetition over time will begin to change that, but it’s important to keep up with the practice. There are two times when you should recite your affirmations:
1) Whenever you notice a conflicting belief. If you go shopping for clothes and you see an unpleasant image in the dressing room mirror and your mind begins its litany of negativity, “I’m so fat, oh my god, I can’t believe they let a beast like me walk around in public, I’m never going to be beautiful, I should just wear a tent for god’s sake!” — stop yourself, close your eyes and call up an image of yourself looking radiant, healthy, beautiful, and fit. Recite your affirmation (“I am healthy, strong, lean, and sexy”) with full faith that it is becoming your reality, moment by moment.
2) All the time. (Or as often as possible.) Don’t just wait for negative beliefs to pop up so you can recite your affirmations, say them as often as you can remember! Write them down and stick them on your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, the headboard on your bed, in your wallet, or any place where you are likely to see them frequently. The more repetition you can engage in, the more quickly you will begin to replace your old, limiting beliefs with empowering new ones.
Finally, the MOST important part of affirmations is the intensity of belief you hold while you are reciting them. If you just say the words mechanically and dispassionately, guess what happens? You won’t be changing your existing beliefs because the whole time you’re reciting affirmations (no matter how great they are!), you will also have an inner voice saying, “Give me a break, who do you think you’re kidding?”
However, if you instead CHOOSE to believe your new affirmations with full faith and conviction, you will challenge the validity of your existing beliefs. Two opposing beliefs cannot co-exist in your mind at the same time. It HAS to be one or the other. This is a good thing because it means that the more you shift your confidence in your new beliefs, your old beliefs will fade away and eventually cease to exist. When that happens, your physical circumstances will shift and change in order to support your new beliefs.