What is an affirmation?
An affirmation is a theory that we can build a more positive self-view when we allow time for reflection on self-worth and our core values. Affirmations can take many forms and can help us within our careers, personal lives, and relationships.
Affirmations seek to replace threats we feel from outside sources that may harm our self-worth and self-integrity. In our fast-paced, connected world, it's easy to see what others are doing and feel like we are not enough, and sometimes the best positivity can come from within.
Self-affirmations can also help us cope with specific situations in our lives that we may find stressful or difficult. You have probably already tried it; Almost all of us have said at one time or another, "come on, you can do this!" to ourselves before attempting something we're nervous about.
In this article, we will explore self-love affirmations, the practice of affirming positive messages that can directly affect the way we perceive ourselves as humans. We will also look at the research behind why they work and why practicing self-love in the form of affirmations can make a tangible difference in our lives.
We will also mix in anecdotal experiences to form a true and accurate representation of how those of us who practice self-love affirmations can change their mindset for the better.
What do psychologists think?
Psychologists who study self-affirmation theory believe that one of the primary reasons it works is that affirming broadens a person's perspectives and reduces the effect of negative emotions we create both in our minds and what we hear from others.
Self-affirmations focus on positivity, core values, and rewarding experiences, engaging the neural mechanisms in our brain associated with reward and positivity.
Self-affirmation also focuses on the successes we have already achieved, what is working in our lives and what has worked for us in the past. Pondering on these events allows us to zoom in on what has already led to success instead of thinking about future and past failures.
When we focus on positive experiences, we manipulate our temporal focus. This process has been neurologically recorded in studies, and while in these studies affirmation wasn't the focus of the research, it has been shown to be accurate.
Self-love affirmations are designed to keep us in tune with ourselves
The way people perceive us is a collection of all the actions, thoughts, and events that we have shared with another individual. As humans, we are incredibly multifaceted, and it is unlikely that anybody else knows enough about us to paint an accurate picture of who we truly are.
That's why self-love is such a critical practice; if we took what everyone thought about us at face value, we would be selling ourselves short as individuals. Only we know what we are truly capable of and who we are inside, and practicing self-love affirmations affords us the ability to block out negative input from those who don't know us.
Create a unique affirmation
Saying general words might not be enough to change your neural activity and provoke an actual change inside your brain, and that's precisely the reason this article isn't just a dispassionate list of general affirmations. The best method to creating an affirmation that will work for you is to think about your life as an individual, the areas in which you think you don't love yourself, and promote a more positive mindset in these areas.
Take a moment to think about the areas you are not comfortable with. It could be your appearance, your perceived intelligence, how others in your working life see you, or even how you perceive your partner to think of you. Design the affirmation around those areas. If you are constantly told to speed up at work, you could say to yourself the following:
"I am comfortable with the work I am doing, I love what I do, and I am making a difference."
Or, if you have had an excellent day doing your favorite hobby, show some self-love in a much more positive light.
"I played amazing today, and my actions really helped the team."
And so the next time you play that sport, you will have more confidence to do another great job. Imagine if you went home thinking, "gosh, I did well for once; I bet I won't be able to do that again." You'd be setting yourself up for failure!
Remember to try and put emotion behind your words, feel what you are saying and actually believe it.After all, if you have had the ability to come up with the affirmation, it is in your power for it to be true!
Self-affirmation and executive function
According to social psychologist Claude Steele's theory on self-affirmation, as humans, we are strongly motivated to uphold our self-integrity, and self-affirmation helps us maintain that integrity. This is what makes us feel adequate both for the society we live in and for ourselves.
Studies have shown that self-affirmation leads to individuals having a higher executive function, such as analyzing information more rationally and conducting healthier lives overall, both physically and mentally.
When we apply self-love affirmations into our routine, these same principles occur; we look deep into ourselves with our affirmations and start to think about ourselves realistically and without the influence of society. We can decide more clearly what we want to achieve or choose to be completely happy with our current self.
What we want to add
When we realize that there are many ways to lead successful, healthy, and happy lives, it opens up our opportunities to lead the lives we want to lead as individuals.
Affirming and showing self-love is one of the greatest ways to come to terms with your own life, show yourself that you are enough, and help improve yourself in the areas you want to improve for yourself and not for others.