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Do You Want to Get Positive…About Affirmations?

June 26, 2019

Affirmations – it’s a word that has been used a lot more recently than when I was growing up, but that doesn’t make it any different or give it a difference in importance in any way! But what is an affirmation? A simple dictionary search reveals that it is “emotional support or encouragement”… some synonyms include:

· assertion

· declaration

· statement

· proclamation

· assurance

Yes! An affirmation is all of that! The brain is a crazy powerful thing that we all have…as much as you may think sometimes you don’t, if you are a living and breathing human, I promise you it’s in there! Our brains have the ability to control every part of what we do, and in many ways, you are what you think.

Affirmations are one of the aspects of mindfulness that is most important, but I struggle with the most. In our naturally critical nature, it is much easier to pick out the negatives in ourselves than to focus on the positives in our lives. This is exactly the place where affirmations come in!

Using positive statements (or I love the term “proclamation!”), we can overwrite the messages our brain sending us in our natural ways of negative thoughts and self-sabotage. Even if we do not believe the statement initially ourselves, by thinking it and saying it out loud, your brain hears your voice saying the words. This is key!

You may be thinking “yeah, right” and add a little eye roll with a statement you don’t believe, but your brain still is listening to your voice say those words and neuronal connections are firing. Your brain is very literal and takes what it hears in, so you need to be conscious of how it is taking in the words and the thoughts you have towards yourself.

A great deal of our difficulty with affirmations and saying positive things to ourselves lies in fear. When I say fear, I am not referring to the “fearing for our lives in dangerous situations” kind of fear, but the fear that is “holding us back from living out our fullest lives and creating that pit in your stomach” kind of fear. In working on self-acceptance and love for ourselves, we need to hone into what is holding us back from being fully ourselves.

Affirmations provide an amazing mind-body connection that is beginning to be seen in science. They are more than just the happy quotes you see all over Facebook. And while I love reading those because there is so much negativity online, an affirmation has to be a statement that is repeated and speaks directly to you.

How to Create an Affirmation

There is actually a formula for a statement to be an effective positive affirmation to you…to remember it, I like to think of how people used to say “pft!!” with rolling their eyes at something they already knew (I grew up in the 90’s ok?!)

1. Affirmations need to use Positive words, no negative thoughts and “I can’t” or “I don’t” allowed. You are going to have to repeat this multiple times, and we are already conditioned to repeat the negatives… be kind to your brain and repeat positives!

2. An affirmation needs to be stated as a Fact. This is your truth. Think along the lines of “I am” and “I do” when beginning your positive affirmation statements to live in your truth and your light.

3. The affirmation has to be said in the present Tense, here and now…not thinking of maybe I can be positive and love myself 5 years from now. You brain only responds to what is present right now!

At first, it may seem like you are lying to yourself with an affirmation you do not fully believe, but that is one of the biggest problems with our society. We are too quick to be critical of ourselves and diminish who we are and what we are.

Let’s try out creating some affirmations here right now, and feel free to use some of these if they resonate with something you need to affirm yourself about. With life and things we all have difficulty with (mostly as adults, yet these issues are not limited to adulthood), some of the biggest areas that help with affirmations revolve around anxiety and stress, weight and weight loss, and money so let’s start with those…but don’t forget to think “pft!!

“I am calm and am able to juggle everything in my life”

“I have a peaceful mind and grateful heart”

“I have a support system I love and trust”

“I am the perfect me there is”

“I accomplish all goals I set for myself”

“I am strong and powerful”

“I have the power to manifest all by dreams”

“I am smart with my money”

“I live in abundance in all parts of my life”

For the Kiddos

Positive affirmations are wonderful for anybody and everyone out there, including children. I have encountered so many kids growing up these day that are very hard on themselves with every little thing, and this is exacerbated with my work with children who have different needs. They feel especially singled out at school… and do not even get me started on cyber bullying (I may feel super young compared to my colleagues and many out there will agree based on my age, but when I first got Facebook it was still by invite only and was not until my Junior year of high school, so cyber bullying was not even in anyone’s vocabulary at that time).

When working with kids, because some of the above affirmations are more geared towards the adult-life and struggles, I like to ask them what they are struggling most with in school or at home, and then focus on how we can flip that way of thinking.

I love when I did affirmation work with one boy who was 11, just starting middle school, and feeling very overwhelmed with all the assignments and tests around Thanksgiving. He was more than capable of doing the work, yet he would over thing things and distract himself to the point where things would take extra-long to complete… which also led to not being able to finish tests in time. This boy was very hard on himself and the anxiety was noticeably building. In one of our sessions where we focused on mindful stretching, breathing and affirmations, he expressed his biggest struggle was he feels stupid when he can’t finish all the work in school when her sees others finishing. In affirmation work, he did comment it felt like a lie when we figured out the simple but powerful affirmation of “I am smart”, but it was able to refocus his mind to completing an entire writing prompt during our session with limited help from me in focusing and thinking of examples.

For kids, keeping is simple and uncomplicated is best with affirmations that they can repeat. “I am smart”, “I am loved”, “I am kind”, “I have a wonderful family and safe home”…think concrete things that your child will connect with!

Below is a little positive affirmation video for kids I have created along with movements to get the body active in stating our affirmations out loud:

I am POSITIVE

I am POWERFUL

I am FEARLESS

I am CONFIDENT

I am CAPABLE

I am ENOUGH

I LOVE ME!

Final Emphasis

Repetition!! This is quite possibly the biggest thing to emphasize with affirmations. Yes, they are nice to think of and may feel strange saying to yourself, but you try it out for one day. But if you do not repeat and use daily, it’s going to be difficult for the mindfulness practice to have the impact on your brain and promote positive thinking. Like anything in life, to get good at it and for it to become easier, you need to repeat! Any way that you can make this work, do it. Write it in a journal 10 times a day, put your affirmation(s) on post-it notes on your mirror to see every morning, write it on a sticker that is on your computer for you to read every time you open it, or in your gym bag to motivate you…this is your affirmation, so make it work for you.

For me, I use affirmations with my essential oils every morning to start my day off on the best foot possible. I particularly am a huge fan of what’s called “The Feelings Kit”, a kit of blends for emotions sold by Young Living Essential Oils. This kit contains 6 oils and there are affirmations with each oil that I love and say daily. They are as follows:

On the feet – “I am ready to transform my life”

Over the heart – “My heart is open to give and receive love”

Around the navel – “I forgive myself and others for past mistakes”

Over the liver – “I release all negativity from my body”

Around the ears – “I let go of my past”

Under the nose – “My authentic self is enough”

Affirmations do not need to be a scary or difficult thing. They initially are difficult to compose when we get into the cycle of self-doubt and criticism, but there is so much good in every single one of us. Embrace yourself and your truth…not the self-critical truth that you repeat in your head, but your real truth about the incredible person you are!

With love and compassion, Alli

About Alli

Alli Carbone, MS, OTR/L, CCYT, is a pediatric occupational therapist that specializes in using yoga for sensory processing skills and education for the whole family.