The positive power of self-affirmation

Telling yourself you can

Our internal narratives aren’t innocent and without effect in our lives.

Our tendencies of thought either help or hinder our health and happiness. If we’re caught in a negative loop, we suffer. Knowing how to help ourselves is important.

“Change your thinking and change your life” seems such a simplistic statement, yet within this quote from Ernest Holmes is a powerful truth I’ve learned to pay attention to.

Our bodies don’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. Every minute of the day, our bodies are responding to the thoughts that run through our heads. We all know how one negative or alarming thought can cause our heart to race, our muscles to tense and our mood to shift.

We have an internal pharmacy and we choose which bio-chemicals we are dispensing for ourselves depending on the nature of our thoughts. It’s vital we’re aware that we are the ones choosing which bio-chemicals our bodies are receiving.

A thought repeated over time becomes a hard-wired tendency due to the neuroplastic nature of the brain. Neurons that fire together, wire together, according to Hebb’s rule of brain plasticity. What we practice grows stronger and it changes our brains.

Many of us have over-used negative, self-defeating affirmations for years. Learning to flip this practice on its head is powerful. For me, it was helpful knowing there’s genuine science and theory supporting this practice.

To be honest, when it was first suggested I use affirmations to pull myself out of a funk, I had a hard time believing they could make a difference. I’d yet to learn the power of my thinking-feeling nature; the formula of thought plus feeling equals my experience. That was new at the time. Yet, understanding this has transformed my life.

Positive affirmations are simply phrases or statements used to support ourselves and challenge negative or self-destructive mental tendencies. They support, encourage and calm the body and brain, reducing the stress response and elicit a cascade of helpful biochemicals. This changes our experience of life.

I had nothing to lose by trying this simple practice, and I was surprised by the positive effect using positive affirmations held when I gave them a try.

Like the story of the Little Engine That Could, using them has become a main-stay in my life as they’ve served to powerfully re-set my mind and experience of life.

Positive self-affirmations are found to:

• Reduce stress, anxiety and depression

• Increase feelings of hopefulness, soothing, and relaxation

• Improve confidence

• Support positive outcomes

• Improve work performance and productivity

• Increase resilience

• Increase motivation

• Helpful in formation of new habits

• May be helpful in promoting sleep

Positive affirmations don’t have to be complex, and are best if they align with your own values and are believable to us. They are short statements repeated several times a day and can be additionally used to support ourselves when facing challenging or stressful situations.

Writing them down or repeating them out-loud to ourselves in the mirror is very helpful. I’ve written them in dry-erase marker on my bathroom mirror and on my kitchen window to help me remember. This way, I share them with my family.

As I’ve come to understand the very real mental, emotional, and physical benefits we experience when we engage in some of these simple practices, it’s certainly caused me to make them more of a priority in my life; understanding the ‘why’ or the science has changed my life.

What you tell yourself about you is important. You can change the narrative of your life and bolster your own self-esteem by acknowledging your positive aspects; only you can do this because it’s an inside job.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right,” according to Henry Ford.

I believe you can.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More New Thought articles

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.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress 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 44 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.

Previous Stories