Interested in personal growth or learning more about it? Today, let’s look at a neat little trick that can totally change how you think and feel—affirmations. These are like those pep talks you give yourself in the mirror, except they’re scientifically designed to rewire your brain and help you build the mindset you’re after. Let’s break down the science behind affirmations and how talking to yourself can shape your mindset.
Is There Science to Affirmations?
Affirmations are all about thinking positively and being your own cheerleader. They’re not just some woo-woo stuff; it’s backed by science. Our thoughts are like little pathways in our brains, and the more we think a certain way, the more those pathways get ingrained. If all we do is give ourselves negative feedback, then we start to feel negative, lack self-confidence, and start to believe the negative stories we tell ourselves.
Let’s say you’re stuck in a self-doubt loop. You keep thinking you’re not good enough, and surprise, you start believing it. But if you start saying to yourself, “I am capable and worthy of success.” Even if you don’t fully buy it at first, the more you say it, the more your brain starts thinking it’s true. Slowly, you start acting and feeling more confident, and guess what? Success starts feeling like something you can totally rock.
Affirmations help us ditch negative pathways and pave the way for more confidence, optimism, and all-around good vibes. By repeating positive affirmations, the brain creates new neural pathways which in turn make it easier for the brain to return to positive thoughts rather than the negative feedback you used to feed yourself.
One study used MRIs to study the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. It’s the part of the brain that is associated with self-related processing. Those using self-affirmations to see physical activity as positive to their health produced more activity in their ventromedial prefrontal cortex during the affirmation stage as well as during the physical activity. Those who received the positive affirmations also increased their physical activity and decreased their sedentary behavior. While those who didn’t receive the positive affirmations stayed about the same.1
How to Create Affirmations
Creating your own affirmations is like making a personal motto. Whether it’s about kicking procrastination, boosting your self-esteem, or increasing your activity, make it something you need and believe in. Keep it positive, in the present tense, and super specific.
Instead of “I will be successful,” try “I am taking bold steps towards my success.” Instead of, “I won’t sit on the couch for most of the day.” Try, “I enjoy physical activity.”
Another way to do it is to identify your negative self-talk. Write those sentences out and then reframe them in a positive manner. Stop and say the positive version every time you hear yourself saying one of those negative phrases.
Stick your affirmation where you’ll see it—on your mirror, as a screensaver, wherever. And here’s the secret sauce: repetition. The more you say it, think it, and feel it, the faster your brain gets on board.
Want to try rewriting your negative self-talk? Use this worksheet to change negative to positive. It’s not an overnight miracle, but who needs magic when you’ve got science on your side? Remember, affirmations are like a mental makeover, rewiring your brain to think better thoughts. So go ahead, and talk yourself into that amazing mindset you’ve always wanted. Your brain’s ready to help you on this journey to becoming the best version of you!
1Referenced: Falk, E. B., Brook, M., Cascio, C. N., Tinney, F., Kang, Y., Lieberman, M. D., Taylor, S. E., An, L., Resnicow, K., & Strecher, V. J. (2015). Self-affirmation alters the brain’s response to health messages and subsequent behavior change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(7), 1977-1982. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1500247112