What are positive affirmations for?

Positive affirmations became fashionable with the spread of Positive Psychology , even though they actually have their origins in self-help books , Louise L. Hay being one of its main proponents. Without a doubt, positive sentences are a valid tool to counter recurring toxic thoughts and destructive self-criticism, but to notice a real change it is necessary to formulate and use them correctly. Otherwise, they may end up doing more harm than good.

What exactly are positive affirmations?

Positive affirmations are basically a simple self-help method through which we try to generate a certain mental state that allows us to better face the challenge that awaits us.

They are simple affirmations that combat negative mindset and destructive self-criticism to generate a more positive attitude that allows us to focus on our strengths. Positive affirmations, therefore, have a motivating action. They can help us clear up doubts, overcome fear, and see the brighter side of life or of ourselves.

But positive affirmations aren’t magical. This means that they will not make the things we want happen, it is necessary to do a deep psychological work to change our mentality and strive to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, becoming the person we want to be.

What are positive affirmations for?

Positive affirmations serve to challenge negative, intrusive, and unhelpful thoughts that get in our way or make us feel bad. These phrases help us reconnect with our potential and positive qualities, aspects we usually don’t see when we’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed or stressed. I’m a breath of motivation.

Basically, they help us deal with our negative self-talk by contrasting its affirmations to bring to light that other facet that we usually take for granted and to which we don’t pay enough attention. In fact, a study conducted at the University of California found the power of positive affirmations to make positive changes in our lifestyle. These researchers found that people who use self-affirmation phrases stay more steadfast in their path to eating a healthy diet.

Other studies done at the University of Texas found that positive affirmations reduce our defensive response to self-threats. In other words, when we find ourselves in situations that we perceive as threatening, such as a moral dilemma, too high performance expectations, or an attack on our core values, self-affirmation drastically mitigates our defensive biases and promotes attitude change.

When we are involved in situations that threaten our ego, we tend to adopt a defensive attitude. If so, positive affirmations have the power to calm us down and give us confidence, so we become more tolerant and can better deal with those circumstances without perceiving them as a threat.

As a result, positive affirmations help us stress less. In fact, they’re particularly effective at preventing catastrophic thoughts from making stress worse by helping us broaden our perspective.

The Power Of Positive Affirmations: Is It As Great As They Say?

Positive affirmations don’t have unlimited power, although they are an effective tool in some circumstances. Neuroscientists at the University of California, for example, have discovered that they can actually activate our brain’s reward system and influence how we experience emotional pain. When the reward system is activated, stress is relieved, which can help us overcome difficulties.

Another study conducted at the Beijing Institute of Psychology found that much of the power of positive affirmations comes from the reassurance and security they offer us. When we self-affirm, we reduce emotional stress, which increases our cognitive resources and helps us cope better with adversity and uncertainty.

Positive affirmations remind us that our psychosocial resources extend beyond the specific threat we are exposing ourselves to, allowing us to focus on sources of positive self-esteem and transcend adversity. This reduces our reactivity to threat and protects psychological well-being.

But positive affirmations are not a panacea. We cannot lie to ourselves. Telling ourselves that we are the safest person alive will not make us the safest person alive. Therefore, to be effective, statements of this type must first of all be credible.

It’s also convenient that they’re future-oriented instead of reflecting the past. For example, it is more effective and motivating to tell yourself “I have enough strength to carry on” rather than “I have already faced this type of situation”. Future-oriented positive affirmations have been shown to activate brain regions involved in processing our self-image and help us imagine positive rather than negative future events, allowing us to anticipate potential rewards.

In any case, we should keep in mind that positive affirmations won’t work if we don’t roll up our sleeves. Wanting something is not enough to get it. We can repeat motivating phrases, but we have to be the ones to put them into practice.

It is also important to remember that positive affirmations do not help people who have mental health problems, because in such cases the underlying problem needs to be addressed. When positive affirmations are disconnected from reality and there is no change plan to support them, they can generate states contrary to what one wants to achieve, marked by emotions such as frustration and the feeling of failure. If you repeat to yourself an impossible sentence, such as “I will achieve anything I want” and you don’t have a solid plan of action, failures will end up further undermining your self-esteem and your self-efficacy.

20 short positive affirmations that you can turn into your personal mantra

Talking to yourself in a kind and positive way can make a big difference in your life. That doesn’t mean you’ll achieve everything you set out to do or that the obstacles in your path will vanish, but you’ll be better able to cope with adversity and, therefore, respond more resiliently.

Some examples of short positive affirmations you can use on a daily basis are:

  1. I deserve love and respect
  2. I trust in my potential
  3. I have enough strength to overcome this problem
  4. I believe in myself
  5. I have the right to be happy
  6. I feel satisfied with myself
  7. I have the right to prioritize myself and say “no”
  8. I can work hard to achieve my goals
  9. I am grateful to have people in my life who value and appreciate me
  10. I give myself permission to make mistakes
  11. I listen to my intuition
  12. I will find my balance
  13. I pay attention to the signals my body sends me
  14. My past doesn’t define me
  15. I am so much more than my failures and mistakes
  16. I prioritize calmness
  17. I’m where I need to be
  18. I will strive every day to do my best
  19. Every challenge is an opportunity to grow
  20. I can overcome my fears

Repeating these positive affirmations is helpful, but make sure they are not empty but have meaning for you at the time in life you are going through. The most powerful positive phrases are those that have an emotional resonance within us.

Of course, you should also come up with a plan for bringing these claims to life. You can incorporate them into your life as a habit, using them as a personal mantra, but don’t forget that in the end it all boils down to treating yourself with compassion, fostering positive self-talk, and facing issues with confidence. Positive affirmations are just a reminder of that.


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