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An Affirmation a day...

Whether you’re feeling proud of yourself after a major accomplishment or feeling down on yourself after a day when you can’t seem to get it right, the way you talk to yourself matters.

That’s the idea behind affirmations — short phrases you can repeat to change the way you think and feel about yourself. If you meditate or practice yoga, you may already be familiar with affirmations — they’re often integrated with these practices.

In a tweet last year, Jennifer Lopez revealed the affirmations she uses: “I am whole, I am good on my own, I love myself.”

Michelle Obama said in a Twitter post last year that her daily mantra is: “Am I good enough? Yes, I am.”

Affirmations are free and easy to practice anywhere, anytime, so they’re a really accessible tool to cope with stressful current events.

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations, also referred to as positive affirmations, are phrases that, when repeated regularly, can change negative thoughts and behaviour patterns. They can be said aloud or to yourself. These statements are usually intended to help shift thinking from negative to positive, motivate an action, reduce stress, persevere through difficult times, and increase self-confidence and well-being.

“Affirmations help build and improve your self-esteem. They can also act as a way of challenging and replacing your negative and anxious thinking when it comes to stress, depression, physical pain, and anxiety.

Affirmations do this by replacing negative self-talk. For example, if you made a mistake and then think, “I’m so stupid,” you’re unintentionally using a negative affirmation. But if you can spot the negative affirmation, there’s an opportunity to change it to a positive one. In this case, you might tell yourself: “I can learn from my mistakes.”

One psychological theory of self-affirmation comes from research on the self carried out in the 1980s by Claude M. Steele, PhD, a social psychologist. His theory is that when people have thoughts or experiences that threaten the way they think about or perceive themselves, they are motivated to restore their self-image.

Steele suggested that people generally want to have a positive image of themselves, so when they experience a threat to that image (such as somebody telling them they’re not good at something), they tend to affirm their sense of self — which, in turn, allows them to handle these threats in a more secure, balanced way. The affirmation is way to help navigate that stressful situation.

How to Start an Affirmation Practice

Starting an affirmation practice can be quick and painless. It requires no equipment or setup. Here’s how to get started.

Pick Your Affirmation

The first step in starting an affirmation practice is to pick an affirmation. You can use a phrase you’ve heard that really resonates with you, or, you can also come up with your own affirmation that will serve your purpose. Some steps:

Decide on a purpose.

Think about what you’d like to get from the affirmatio. Do you want it to reassure you of something? Motivate you to accomplish a goal? Or boost your confidence?

Keep it short. use a phrase that’s about three to seven words. You want it to be quick, easy, and short enough that it can be repeated over and over.

Keep it authentic. An affirmation needs a level of authenticity in order to be used effectively, It should be something you believe is true, even if you may not feel that truth all the time, he says.

Decide How and When to Use It

Affirmations can be said in your head or out loud. Sometimes it depends on when you want to use them. If you’re at home in your bathroom, you can stand in front of the mirror and say an affirmation out loud. If you’re in a public setting, say on a bus, you’ll probably want to say it in your head.

When you choose to practice really depends on why you’re using the affirmation. If you want to get your day off to a positive start, practice them in the morning. To help you relax and regulate your nervous system after a long day, say them in the evening.

Keep Using It

Once you’ve decided on your affirmation(s) and a time that suits your schedule, try to make a regular habit of it. For example, if you decide it’s going to be for the morning, make it part of your morning routine. Repeat it as many times as you need. Practicing affirmations regularly is key to their effectiveness, especially if you’re trying to change thinking patterns or behaviours.

To help you stick with the practice, you can write your affirmation(s) on notecards and place them around your home; keep them in your phone's Notes app so they’re accessible; and set a reminder to repeat or reread your affirmations at the same time each day.

Guidelines on creating effective positive affirmations:

Begin with the words “I am” as they are extremely powerful.

Use the present tense.

State it positively and do not talk or think about what you don’t want.

Keep it simple, brief, and specific.

Try to include gratitude.

Include at least one dynamic emotion or feeling word.

Affirmations should be about oneself and not others.