Why Positive Affirmations Are Effective

By S. Renee Smith, Vivian Harte

To a large extent, your accomplishments and happiness in life are a direct result of the thoughts you repeat in your mind. Positive affirmations are potent statements that build an internal dialogue reinforcing a new vision you have of yourself and your life. They replace the negative thoughts that have been in your mind about yourself and your past.

As you believe and feel differently about yourself, you can shift your life in a new direction.

Wherever your thoughts are, your attention follows. If your mind is warning you about the times that you tried to do something but failed, it will dictate your future and limit what you can do now. But if your mind is focused on succeeding, you’ll be more apt to try new things and have confidence that you can achieve them.

So affirmations deliberately focus your mind on what you want to be and do. They move you from where you are to where you want to be.

What are the most effective ways to use affirmations? Here are a handful of helpful hints to maximize the benefits of using positive affirmations:

  • Use your affirmations frequently. It’s best to use them every day, saying your affirmations out loud for a few minutes at least twice a day. The truth is that the more you say and think your affirmations, the more readily your mind will accept them.

    Focusing on your affirmations a couple minutes at a time several times a day is better than saying them only once in a while. Think about the times that work best for you, such as

    • In the morning when you wake up

    • In the evening before you go to sleep

    • When you wash your hands

    • When you’re driving

    • When you’re cleaning the house

    • When you’re relaxing in your bath

    • When you’re taking a walk or run

    • When you’re fixing a meal

  • Write out your affirmations on sticky notes and put them in places you see often, such as

    • On your bathroom mirror

    • On the refrigerator

    • On a cupboard in the kitchen

    • On your car dashboard

    • In your wallet

    • On your computer or desk at home

    • On your computer or desk at work

    • On your cellphone (set your cellphone to beep a few times throughout the day; also, if you have a smartphone, you can download free apps that are completely dedicated to affirmations)

  • Actively reject the negative thoughts you have. If these negative thoughts dominate your mind, your positive affirmations will have little effect. When you find yourself thinking a negative thought that decreases your self-esteem, consciously eliminate it and replace it with the positive affirmation that is most like its opposite.

  • Associate colors with your affirmations. Your brain and memory link things together. Linking colors to your affirmations helps you remember them and bring them more to life. Use colored inks to write your affirmations or write them on colored paper with black ink. Then when you see that color during the day, you’ll be reminded of the affirmation.

    For example, if you write the affirmation “I expect good things to happen in my life” on blue sticky notes or cards, when you see the color blue, you’ll be reminded to think of this affirmation and look for good things taking place. Even if it’s only a smile you get from a coworker or a hug from your child, you’ll notice these happy occurrences and acknowledge that your life is full of them.

  • Relax when you say or think your affirmations. You can use soft music to enhance your relaxation even further. Relaxation helps your mind open to the positive course your affirmations supply. If you’re not doing an activity, find a quiet place, sit down, close your eyes, and listen to soothing music.

    You can also record your affirmations with soft, slow music behind them and listen to the recording. This technique is especially effective before you go to sleep at night.

  • Sing your affirmations to yourself. You can use rhythm to make them easier to remember and repeat.

  • Add strong emotions while you’re saying your affirmations. Be excited about achieving them! Imagine what emotions you’ll feel once you attain what your affirmation is about — happiness, satisfaction, joy, a sense of accomplishment, and so forth. Really feel them as though you’re living them right now.

  • Understand that your affirmations may not ring true at first. When you start using a new affirmation, the statement will most likely seem to be untrue. Realize, though, that once your thoughts are directed in this fashion, you’ll start to look for situations in your life that match your thoughts, and you’ll begin to discern the many opportunities that can help you reach what you desire.

    In other words, when you focus on who you want to be, you begin to notice openings to make this happen. As you think about the possibilities and look for them, you’ll see new ones that you were completely closed to before. So be sure to take advantage of them. What you think about, you become.

  • Determine three action steps to make each affirmation come true. These don’t have to be large or overreaching steps. They may be small, such as reading a book about the topic, researching more about it, or practicing one small thing.

    For example, one of your positive affirmations may be, “I choose to do things that support my well-being.” You may have three action steps such as 1) eating more fruit, 2) researching gyms in your town, and 3) writing down forgiving thoughts about someone who has done something you didn’t like. And, of course, as you accomplish these, write three more.

    If you’d like, you can ask a friend or relative to hold you accountable to doing these three steps. Keep that person updated on your progress. When you have to tell another person whether you’re accomplishing these steps, you’ll be much more likely to actually do them. This accountability acts as a powerful motivator to keep you focused on truly living the affirmation.

  • Realize that your affirmations are not set in stone. You can continue to modify or change them as you like. You may find that an affirmation is no longer appropriate or that you’ve accomplished it so well that you no longer need it.

    Or you may find that changing the wording or even the intention serves you better. Feel free to revise them. Keep in mind that affirmations are here to serve you; you’re not here to serve them.