I think I can, I think I can

What do you say about yourself within the privacy of your own mind?

What are those repeated thoughts you practice over-and-over?

Our thoughts matter and they affect our experience of life.

“Every thought is either an investment or a cost,” according to T. Harv Eker.

This doesn’t just apply to money, but also to our health, the quality of the lives we live, and our relationships with other people. 

Repeated thoughts create neural connections in our brains, and the thoughts we practice regularly become hard-wired, and our defaults.

We all have neural ruts, those thoughts we practice over and over again. Neurons that fire together, wire together, and impact not only our health, but our experience of life.  

Many people I work with are challenged by the negative chants they’ve practiced and find benefit in developing a practice of positive affirmations.

Positive affirmations are positive phrases used to challenge negative thoughts or difficult situations. 

Before you dismiss this as feel-good gobbledy-goop, read on.

According to the Psychology Dictionary, positive affirmations are brief phrases, repeated frequently, and are designed to encourage positive, happy feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. Positive affirmation is used in business, health-care, and widely in sports psychology.

Positive affirmations aren’t magical; the benefits are scientific, based on well-established psychological theory. Our neural pathways change as we practice self-affirmation.

Positive self-affirmations:

  • decrease the health-deteriorating effects of stress 
  • enhance our ability to make positive health-related changes 
  • improve our ability to learn
  • improve our self-concept
  • improve our outlook on life
  • cause us to be more resilient in the face of adversity 

Positive affirmations can change the way we see the world.

You see and experience what you expect to.  Why? Because you’re looking for it.

The human brain is efficient, and does what it can to conserve energy.  

Due to a tendency of the brain called the confirmation bias, we tend to notice more of, and believe things that confirm our beliefs, and disregard what doesn’t fit.  

If you believe all rich people are shysters, then your brain alerts to take notice when you see a crooked affluent person, and minimizes or explains away acts of philanthropy. 

Our thoughts create our reality; we focus in on and see what we expect to see. 

This is why two people in the same situation can have a totally different experience. 

What we focus on increases, and we focus on what we expect to see.  We’re always canvassing the world for evidence of things that confirm our beliefs. 

We all have personal narratives, those thoughts we have about who we are, what we’re not, and the things we believe about life.

Repeated negative thoughts can affect our health, as they come with an associated feeling that results from the chemical cascade within our bodies. 

If you doubt this, just think of a nice, juicy lemon for a few moments, and you’ll feel the saliva flow. 

There are myriad secretions happening within our bodies, many not as noticeable as saliva flowing, in response to thoughts. We’ve all felt the jolt of adrenaline flowing through us, with heart quickening and muscles tensing, when we realize we’ve forgotten something important. These are physical responses related to a thought.

Some of our practiced thoughts support our health, and others, when overused, create health challenges.

Affirmations aren’t one-size-fits-all; the ones you choose have to fit for you. They should be brief and easy to remember.

Affirmations can be repeated several times a day to reinforce positive beliefs. I have certain affirmations I make when challenging situations arise, and they calm my mind and allow me to think more clearly. 

Writing affirmations down and posting them where you’ll see them can help to remind you, as you form a new habit.

While not a panacea, or a replacement for therapy when needed, positive affirmations can be helpful in improving our experience of life. 


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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