Writing Affirmations: Why They Work and How to Use Them

Rene Descartes coined the phrase, “I Think Therefore I am.” Descartes’ phrase explains that because we have the ability to think we exist, we simply do. I feel that this also represents the state of our goals and manifesting them. If we think we are successful then we are; If we think we are not, then not we are not. “I think, therefore I am.” Ultimately, our thoughts shape our perception of reality.

If we think therefore we are, as Descartes suggests then why can’t we harness our thoughts to create the reality we envision for ourselves? We can.

The practice of writing affirmations is a technique many successful people do to help their mindset align with their goals. The definition of ‘affirm’ means to say something is true in a confident way; to show a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea). Therefore, writing affirmations means to write down what you want in a confident way. In theory, this trains your brain to believe your statements are true.

How To Write an Affirmation

Step 1:

I’d suggest buying an “Affirmation journal” (any kind of journal) solely for the purpose of writing down your affirmations to stay organized.

Step 2:

Simply write down things that you want to manifest in your life.

  • I am happy
  • I am calm cool and collected
  • I am successful
  • I know I can achieve anything
  • I attract positive people into my life

Notice the statements are written in the present moment, such as “I am, I know, I love” etc. It’s important to write your statements in the present, as if you already have the things you want.  If you write something such as, “I want or I need” then you are going to set your mind into wanting or needing something and will only perpetuate not being able to manifest what you want. You need to believe that everything is within you already because it is!

Step 3:

Stay in the positive. Do not write affirmations as :

  • I will not eat sweets anymore
  • I am not addicted to drugs
  • I won’t be in debt anymore

Instead write them positive:

  • I eat healthy
  • I take care of my body and I am free from drugs
  • I am wealthy

Do you see the difference? It’s important to be as positive as you can with writing affirmations and use positive words. If you have trouble remembering how to keep them positive just imagine that you have already accomplished what you want and write them that way. Do not use words like I am not. Rephrase as “I am.”

You can literally write down anything you’d like to manifest into your life. A family, friends, job, car, feelings, etc.

Step 4:

Visualize your affirmations. If you write, I am wealthy, imagine yourself wealthy. How do you act, dress, how much money do you make? What kind of house do you live in. It’s in the details!  Say them out loud after you write them. Believe your affirmations with conviction and confidence.

Step 5:

Write your affirmations daily. I would suggest to keep your journal next to your bed and take five minutes every morning to write them down, say aloud and visualize.

A new study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology suggests that it actually takes 66 days for a new habit to form, such as getting used to writing affirmations and re-training your thoughts to think affirmations. So, if you want the best results you should keep up your affirmations long-term.

Why it works

Research suggests that the act of self-affirmations actually minimizes stress, improves performance and helps us deal with threats to our self-integrity. A study published in Psychological Science looked into what actually goes on inside the brain to make this happen.

A group of 38 undergraduates were selected to participate in the study. Each student was randomly assigned to be in a self-affirmation or non affirmation group before the study.

“In the self-affirmation condition, participants were asked to rank six values from most to least important. They then had five minutes to write about why their highest-ranked value was important to them. In the non-affirmation condition, participants also ranked the six values, but they then wrote why their highest-ranked value was not very important to them. This was done in order to undermine self-affirmation in that group.
After ranking the values, the participants performed a test of self-control – in which they were told to press a button whenever the letter M  appeared on a screen; when the letter W  appeared, they were supposed to refrain from pressing the button. To increase the sense of threat in the task, participants were given negative feedback (“Wrong!”) when they made a mistake.While they were completing the task the participants’ brain activity was recorded using electroencephalography, or EEG.Participants in the self-affirmation condition made fewer errors of commission than did those in the non-affirmation condition.”

The participants brain activity was even more interesting, ” While the self-affirmation and non-affirmation groups showed similar brain activity when they answered correctly, self-affirmed participants showed a significantly higher ERN when they made an error.  This suggests that self-affirmation enhanced the ERN response for those participants, which in turned predicted their performance on the task. The researchers speculate that participants who were self-affirmed were more receptive to errors which allowed them to better correct for their mistakes.” [Source]

How affirmations worked for me

It was 2012 and my senior year of college at Arizona State. I wanted to move to Los Angeles after graduating to become a red carpet reporter. Here are what some of my affirmations wrote daily prior to graduation.

  • I live in Los Angeles
  • I am a talented entertainment reporter
  • I go to every single red carpet event

I told myself that I was going to do all of this by the next year. (At the time it was 2012) I didn’t know exactly how but I knew that somehow I’d find a way. Three months out of college I moved to Los Angeles and became an entertainment reporter. By 2013 I had been to every single red carpet event. I made it happen.

The press passes of the events I went to between 2012 and 2013. [Source: @lindsaybhoffman Instagram]
The press passes of the events I went to between 2012 and 2013. [Source: @lindsaybhoffman Instagram]

From my experience, writing affirmations have really helped me get into a more positive mindset. I saw the way I thought about challenges changing. Instead of putting myself down when I failed at something, or thinking I was not good enough as I had in the past, I noticed I was reframing the situations like my affirmations. Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I was so stupid” I would say, “Wow, look what I learned now from this experience.”

Whether or not you believe in affirmations. I suggest that you at least give it a try. Adding more positive words into your day can never hurt.

Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. –Napoleon Hill

Leave in the comments below if you tried affirmations and if they worked for you!


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