When life throws you a curveball that leaves you feeling out of control, a lot of power can be found in setting affirmations — short statements that represent a commitment to manifest something into existence.
"Shifting our mental attention towards our intention has the potential to help us steer away from negative thinking patterns and create a positive change in mood, mindset, and energy," Dr. Angele Close, PhD, a clinical psychologist and therapist, explained.
It's natural to mentally lean towards negativity, but Dr. Close shared how easy it is to fall into "negative feedback loops." For example, the more detrimental the thought, the worse you feel and the more harmful thoughts arise — all impacting your behaviors, emotions, and beliefs.
According to Dr. Close, our ability to break these unhealthy habits and make positive changes in our lives promotes self-trust and confidence — which is where affirmations come into play.
Before setting affirmations, it's important to understand that they aren't the same as "faking it until you make it" or simply making goals.
"Where goals tend to be concrete and achievable outcomes, affirmations are better used as evoking experiences and shifts in being," Dr. Close elaborated.
Her example: instead of planning to drop 10 pounds in a month, dedicate yourself to living a healthier lifestyle by maintaining a positive relationship with your body.
The same goes for trying to be something you're not. If your affirmation is far from the reality you're experiencing, you'll notice a significant disconnect in your practice.
With that, let's work on setting some affirmations for ourselves.
Dr. Close suggested starting with a five to 10 minute meditation. Clear your mind and ask yourself, "What matters most to my heart?" This way, you're approaching your affirmation from the belief of your awareness, not from a place of lacking — pull from your soul, not your ego.
Dr. Close has offered some timely affirmation examples that may help you get through this period of self-isolation, loss, and uncertainty:
- I understand that nothing is permanent, and I am centered and balanced no matter what.
- I can choose how I respond to what's around me.
- Feelings of loneliness are valid, and I know I feel love for others. I, too, am loved.
- I am strong, resilient, and capable.
- The grief I experience is an expression of love and loss. I am sad and in grief, and I am OK.
Similarly to your fitness routine, you must practice your affirmations.
Practicing affirmations may look differently for everyone, Dr. Close said. Affirmations can be whispered silently in the mind, spoken out loud, journaled, prayed, or painted — whatever resonates best with you.
Mindfully practice your affirmations daily, if not one to three times a day, as repetition is an important ingredient in bringing change to your reality, Dr. Close added.
She suggested placing reminder sticky notes in places you'll see throughout the day or incorporating your affirmation into your daily yoga practice or stretching session.
As for some affirmation don'ts, try not to take on too many at once; that way your attention isn't spread too thin.
You'll also want to support your affirmations through lifestyle changes — if you're working on your happiness, you must take action by doing things that fulfill you, for example.
"It's simply not enough to just say affirmations and continue to live life the same," Dr. Close said.