‘The Almost-Magical Power of Self-Affirmation’


#IAm #ICan  #MentalWellbeing2021


Begin the journey to lasting, positive mental wellbeing with self awareness.  Throughout this series we have talked a lot about different tools and techniques to create a more powerful state of mental wellbeing.  However, at the core of all of the wonderful, evidence-based, DIY tools, is mindfulness and self-awareness.  Take note of how you feel when you change your routine, change your diet, and be mindful of what environments may constitute negative influences.  How do you feel?  How does your body feel when you are experiencing various emotions? All the things that we are presenting in our Mental Wellbeing Campaign are like mosaic pieces to the overall mobile that is your personal wellbeing.  When you start making shifts in one area, everything moves, and thus you begin a wonderful journey of exploration of who you really are, what your values are and how empowered you are to CHOOSE any thought, any action, any decision in any moment.  And it is a wonderful and liberating experience.  


A journey that is never ending and only gaining in greater richness and freedom.  This week we are talking about Affirmations, and even the neurosciences behind how the mechanisms associated with self-affirmation contribute to the development of more effective interventions.  

Much like understanding the principles of the Law of Attraction, Affirmations operate on the same Universal Law.  Like attracts like, and everything is a frequency, a vibration.  In fact, scientists can now measure the frequency of your thoughts and your emotions.  A little known fact, you actually measure the vibration of the frequency your heart gives off 40 feet around you!  


“People have a basic need to maintain the integrity of the self, a global sense of personal adequacy. Events that threaten self-integrity arouse stress and self-protective defenses that can hamper performance and growth. However, an intervention known as self-affirmation can curb these negative outcomes. Self-affirmation interventions typically have people write about core personal values. The interventions bring about a more expansive view of the self and its resources, weakening the implications of a threat for personal integrity. Timely affirmations have been shown to improve education, health, and relationship outcomes, with benefits that sometimes persist for months and years. Like other interventions and experiences, self-affirmations can have lasting benefits when they touch off a cycle of adaptive potential, a positive feedback loop between the self-system and the social system that propagates adaptive outcomes over time.”


As you will see in this article, I will reference the analytical and science for those primarily in their left brains, however, I submit to you to put aside the critical thinking aspects, and choose to allow yourself to explore something new.  Like committing to doing affirmations daily for the next 30 days.  I know that many people out there may hear the word ‘affirmations’ and think, oh yeah, total BS, but hear me they work!  And science has proved it for studies from minorities, to career professionals, to the latest advancements in psychology.  Doing affirmations not only raises your vibrational levels, it is actually attracting what you are affirming, commanding into being, to you. (And your neural pathways will also thank you)


We have evolved as a species, and while the brain, like every other organ, has its functions, and as the study of neurosciences has also evolved, we now understand the power of our conscious versus unconscious mind.  The conscious part of our mind, accesses information the brain has assessed as what is critical information.  Which has evolved into a lot of cognitive biases, or beliefs without justification.  Because the conscious mind, since we were born, has been observing, and processing information, and creating paradigms, that are now, as an adult on the ‘rinse and repeat’ cycle.  This is why so often, people think they are trying to do new things, change outcomes, make something happen and they are often met with resistance, or the same outcomes.  It’s because they haven’t tapped into the subconscious paradigmes that form their primal operating system.  Affirmation is a powerful tool, also known as neurplacisticy, to rewrite the old programs and usher in what we truly want and need.  


“So, for utterly mundane and scientific reasons, your world is indeed created by your thoughts.”


Thoughts are vitally important.  And this is where mindfulness comes into play.  Since each thought contributes to the world we live in (see mirror-neurons for a fun discovery on how your thoughts create reality), then we must be mindful of our thoughts.  Each thought that your mind curates is another opportunity to change yourself.  Affirmations engage the cognitive bias in a way that puts your thoughts, frequencies and vibrations to work in your favor.  There, the best affirmations are specific to give your brian a clear set of instructions on what to process.  


To understand the psychological theory of positive affirmations, research has shown that there are 3 critical factors: Self-Identity, Self-Affirmations and Self-Integrity.  We say positive affirmations, not to receive that same praise from others, we say it because we want to DESERVE that same praise for acting in ways that are in accordance with our personal value systems.  Self-identity, too, is not about being perfect, or exceptional or excellent, but celebrating our unique competencies in areas that we personally value, to be moral, flexible and good. (Steel, 1988).  Thus we can define success in different ways, just as we can be flexible in ourselves and adopt a range of different identities and roles.  


“People have a basic need to maintain the integrity of the self, a global sense of personal adequacy. Events that threaten self-integrity arouse stress and self-protective defenses that can hamper performance and growth. However, an intervention known as self-affirmation can curb these negative outcomes. Self-affirmation interventions typically have people write about core personal values. The interventions bring about a more expansive view of the self and its resources, weakening the implications of a threat for personal integrity. Timely affirmations have been shown to improve education, health, and relationship outcomes, with benefits that sometimes persist for months and years.”


Here me when I say that changing limiting paradigms and old belief systems is challenging work.  Not because it is one of the most liberating and empowering aspects of growth you will ever embark on, but because beliefs have a funny way of wanting to keep the egoic mind alive, for they were created in aspects of survival.  You may say your morning affirmations and notice your stomach gets tight, your breath a little bit more shallow, your toes even curl.  That’s okay, that’s great, you are now bringing a new awareness to yourself and observing how thoughts feel, this can be seen as resistance.  And not a bad thing, it's your body's physical way of reflecting back to you, ‘yes I have some work to do here.’  


“A key question about achievement motivation is how to maintain it over time and in the face of stress and adversity. The present research examines how a motivational process triggered by a social-psychological intervention propagates benefits over a long period of time and creates an enduring shift in the way people interpret subsequent adversity. During their first or second year of college, 183 Latino and White students completed either a values affirmation intervention or control exercise as part of a laboratory study. In the affirmation intervention, students wrote about a core personal value, an exercise that has been found in previous research to buffer minority students against the stress of being negatively stereotyped in school. This single affirmation improved the college grade point average (GPA) of Latino students over 2 years…..they also reported having a greater sense of their adequacy as assessed by measures of self-integrity, self-esteem, and hope, as well as higher academic belonging.”


You may be having issues of just not breaking past a certain income level, or you bring in more money and yet more gets spent, or your job/business is getting stagnant, so you may say something like, “I am financially free and live a life of abundance and I expect positive opportunities every day.”  Well, yes, that sounds great, it feels great, but my subconscious isn’t really believing it.  And to that you can say, “okay, great mind, I know you don’t really believe this now, however, I AM going to make it happen.  You will start to notice with the repetition, your brain is subconsciously searching  for the new how.  When the solution appears, the brain calls up the How to the conscious mind, as if it appeared out of thin are.  


From feelings of doubt or issues of self-worth to loving yourself, to your relationships, to traversing a global pandemic, there are affirmations that shift the biological responses of the brain, to a stronger, resilient mindset.  The mind is completely in your control.  To change your life, you must change your mindset.  



“Affirmations curb negative outcomes.” - Alora Grace



*Supporting Research:  

https://positivepsychology.com/daily-affirmations/

https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115137

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2016-15978-004



(Disclaimer) If you suspect you have a mental illness or you're being treated by a mental health professional, ask about how you can incorporate physical activity into your treatment.

A qualified mental health professional can make suggestions about the best strategies for treating your specific condition.




I AM THE PROCESS OF POSITIVE CHANGE


Affirmations work!  They shift your mindset, your mood, your ability to meet challenges, and most importantly, they shift your life.  Only you get to determine what success means for you.  Think about the 5 key areas of your life.  Just as you are your own unique expression of self, so do you create your own harmony and balance within these core areas.


Think about these areas of your life:

Emotional, Relational, Spiritual, Financial, Physical 

Now, take a moment and think about What Is currently in your life, what would you like to see or experience that is different from this “past now”.  Now, take a few moments and create some affirmations, in detail, that shift the focus to where you want to be, what you want to experience, and how you want to choose to feel.  If it’s easy, it’s not really growth, noticing the resistance is a beautiful thing, and we want to push beyond the current experience, or repeat experiences, you have the power to create it.  You have the power to choose it.  


HOW TO DO AFFIRMATIONS:

  • Best said every day, spoken aloud.  Try 3-5min each day, twice daily.  

  • You may need some help to get started, look for affirmations that resonate with you, however, they truly are more powerful when they are your own words.

  • The desire of the conscious mind should align with the subconscious mind

  • FOCUS only on the desired outcome, not the problem at hand

  • Start with the words “ I AM”

  • Use present tense

  • Keep it simple and brief

  • Be specific

  • Include an action word and at least one dynamic emotion

AFFIRMATIONS FOR COMMUNICATING YOUR NEEDS AND LISTENING WITH COMPASSION

  • I heal myself and others by speaking truth

  • Today I speak with authenticity

  • I can set boundaries and express my needs

  • My words are graceful and clear

  • I balance honesty with kindness and compassion

  • I listen without judgment

  • I am open to hearing truth with love

  • Today I am an active and compassionate listener


Click here for 102 Positive Affirmations for Anxiety, Depression, Fear and Panic

ENGAGEMENT QUESTION: Share with us the Affirmation that is making your heart and mind soar