The title of this article might make some think that it’s about magically becoming successful by conjuring up a little phrase and repeating it over and over. Well hey presto, it is! But having said that, it’s not just about how to use affirmations for success, but what’s behind them.
It’s thought the first person to come up with the idea of positive affirmations was the French psychologist, Èmile Couè (1857 – 1926). He believed in the power of autosuggestion and came up with the phrase: every day in every way, I am getting better and better. This became known as the Couè Method and has been used by many to improve wellbeing.
In the real world, do we think repeating a few positive words to ourselves will have an effect? Well, if you think not, then you’re right, but if you think yes, then that’s a different matter. It really does come down to what we believe.
Academic Studies on the effectiveness of Affirmations
There have been various studies around the effectiveness of self-affirmation and whether, or not there is any benefit. When it comes down to science in this area, it is often difficult to come to an absolute conclusion. Science deals with tangible black and white fact, whereas the working of the conscious and subconscious mind is not so straightforward.
The results of a study published in 2015 which examined whether self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward, suggested it does. It said the study suggested the external validity of the affirmation task, including self-affirmations that are future orientated.
Another study from Carnegie University published in PLOS ONE in 2013 found that self-affirmation can help protect against damaging effects of stress on problem-solving. The report said that participants who were under chronic stress had a 50% reduction in problem solving abilities. Those who used self-affirmation, saw the effect of chronic stress reduced significantly to that of people with low chronic stress.
We All Use Affirmations
Yes, even you use them now and again, I’m sure you do. Unfortunately, they’re often used in a negative way. Statements such as: I was born unlucky, I can never remember names, I was never any good at that – you know the kind of thing.
These types of statements usually go back a long way and over time become our beliefs. Then we regularly repeat them, which reinforces them. We have a pattern and we’re stuck with them. They are picked up by our subconscious, then become ingrained into our psyche.
If our beliefs can be so influenced by repeating negative statements, then surely the opposite is possible? The difficulty is that it means changing a belief which is deep within, overwriting what has already been written.
We Have the Power
First, you must want to make a change. This isn’t as straightforward as you may think. Your mind will come up with plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t change, that it’s better to keep things safely as they are. You should realize you’re being fooled.
Willpower does play a part in this, there’s no point in coming up with a positive affirmation if you’re not prepared to work at it. You must believe you’re able to make a change and the words you use in the affirmation will help you get to it.
Now I’m not saying that by repeating that you’re getting $1,000,000 in your bank account, that it will happen. Not everyone agrees with me, but I think affirmations are more-subtle than that. I’m not saying you won’t ever get the cash in your bank account, but it’s more of a case of shifting your focus to positively work towards what it is you want.
What Should Your Affirmations Be?
Affirmations can be whatever you want them to be, but be realistic. They’re normally goals we want to achieve. Big goals are fine, you can be bold, but don’t strive for something you know is impossible. If you do and it doesn’t happen, you end up reinforcing the negative belief you’re trying to overwrite.
To realize how to use affirmations for success, you should understand they are about letting go of something negative and replacing it with a positive statement. It needs to “blast” your mind over and over so that it gets imprinted.
Replace “I can’t” with “I can” as mentioned in our article, Words Have Power. You might not initially believe it, but it will help you to concentrate on your goal and the positives. This way you’ll be able to look at any challenges which occur, from a different angle. It will help you to find a solution.
Positive Affirmations to Say Everyday
There isn’t a definitive wording you should use for your affirmations, but you should make them positively fit your needs. It’s best to make them simple and easy to remember. This means keeping them as short as possible, you don’t need to complicate things. You should also make them specific.
You should use “I” as much as possible because it makes it personal and reinforces the importance of you. It’s also important to word them in the present, so rather than “I will”, it should be “I am”.
It’s not about making pretend, you see if you say it as an intention, you’re acknowledging it’s something you don’t have or haven’t achieved. You need to get your mind used to the fact that “you have already”, even if you haven’t yet! Something as simple as, “I’m in control of how I react to any situation” can be extremely powerful.
How Many Affirmations a Day?
There are conflicting thoughts on how many affirmations you should do each day. It’s best to stick to just one at a time and to give it time. When you consider that our mind thinks thousands of thoughts a day, but can only really concentrate properly on one at a time, you can see why it’s best to keep it simple.
Repeating your affirmation a few hundred times for a powerfully concentrated 5 minutes, is better than a thousand times off and on across the day. Concentration and focus will help with imprinting it into your mind.
Remember, it’s not so much about forcing a massive change, it’s about helping your mind to shift, which will lead to a change of belief. This in turn, will affect how you act and the rest can then fall into place.
Can You See How to Use Affirmations for Success?
It’s important to stress an affirmation isn’t a magical mantra. You can look at it in that way, but what they actually do, is to get your mind to start thinking positively. The negative flows so easily that it needs to be continually counteracted with the positive.
You’re teaching yourself a new habit and you know that they can take some time to form. As always, if you attach emotion to the affirmation, you’re making the vibration stronger. This increases your power of thought to have a bigger effect.
If you think of these statements in a similar way as you’d record audio onto tape. The new recording would erase the old one, replacing it with an updated version. When you think of it in this way, you should understand how to use affirmations for success.