Demystifying Affirmations

Thoughts and beliefs can be the seeds of our reality and wellbeing – if we can monitor and recognise our thoughts we can get deeper insight into how we relate and perceive the world – this is not a hard concept to understand -especially if you’ve done any sort of meditation or mindfulness practice. 
It makes sense then that the cultivation of positive thoughts and beliefs can help us improve our perception, wellbeing and shape our reality. 
Affirmations are a tool that we can use to cultivate the sort of thoughts and beliefs that we want to be generating and living from. 

What is an affirmation? 

An affirmation is a present tense (“I am” as opposed to “I will”) positive, empowering statement that we can write down or repeat to ourselves. 

Why use them? 

There are claims that by repeating or repeatedly writing affirmations everyday the universe will respond and our affirmations will become reality. 
This requires a level of belief and faith in something that’s very hard to prove and at times requires an outcome that is outside our control (pretty cool – and if you believe it then I hope you’re already using affirmations to make the world a better place.)  
Another reason to use them is to improve our self talk,  focus, intent and well being by choosing to cultivate positive thoughts and beliefs that can be the catalyst for positive actions and behaviours.
This requires faith and belief in ourselves and the power of our mind and with a little self awareness these things are, at least subjectively, a little easier to monitor and measure.  

How to use them?

1.) Choose a quality, character trait, state of being or outcome that you would like to manifest.
2.) Come up with a present tense affirmative statement that sums up what it is you’d like to manifest.
3.) Write the statement down in your journal 3 – 15 times and consider what it means – try to visualise or imagine yourself manifesting that which you are affirming. 

How to choose them?

Obviously we could choose any number of affirmations – so much so that it can be hard to choose and  
Below are 5 suggestions of how we may choose our affirmations – I suggest choosing one or more every day for a week. 
1.) If we have a strong sense of purpose or a goal to strive for we can use affirmations to help facilitate that.
E.g. My purpose is to inspire and lead people to be mentally, physically and emotionally stronger, fitter and healthier. 
My affirmation could be – “I inspire and lead people to be mentally, physically and spiritually stronger, fitter and healthier.”
2.) If we have a sense of the sort of person we want to be we can use affirmations to generate the sort of thoughts and beliefs that person lives from.
E.g. I want to be more compassionate and kind.
My affirmation may be “I am compassionate and kind to my self and others.”
3.) If we know things we like about ourselves we can use affirmations to confirm and strengthen these traits
E.g. “Today I trained hard at the gym”
Affirmation may be – “I have lots of energy.” or “I’m disciplined, passionate and energetic” 
4.) If we know thoughts or beliefs we don’t like generating we can use affirmations to reframe these “negative” thought patterns into something positive. **
One way to do this is to affirm the opposite of your negative thought pattern or belief. 
E.g. “I’m not good enough” Possible Reframe “I’m great the way I am and I’m only getting better”. or “I am the best version of myself right now and though I want to get better I won’t let it hold me back”. 
5.) If we don’t know any of the above then mindfulness, insight meditation and journalling may be better tools to use initially – if we don’t know who we are or where we want to go affirmations will not be based on wise choice.
 
At the end of the week choose an affirmation (it could be one that’s repeated often during the week) that resonates with you the most and run with that for the next 4 weeks. 
**Reframing negative thought patterns is something we can do constantly when we get good at recognising them. They can be used “on the fly” as needed or as a daily practice.

How to make them real?

Thoughts and beliefs can be the seeds of our reality and wellbeing but if we want them to improve the world then we must nurture them with action. 
Once you’ve chosen your affirmation for the day look for ways to live them out in your day to day. 
At the end of each day reflect on how you put your affirmation into action and write that down in your journal.
E.g Affirmation “I am compassionate and kind to myself and others”  – reflection today when a work colleague said something that I found annoying I noticed my anger, took a deep breath and chose to act with non judgemental curiosity. I felt less annoyed and satisfied that I was able to use compassion rather than reacting.
 
You may also consider what opportunities you missed and write down what you could’ve done to live the affirmation more thoroughly in that moment. 
E.g. Affirmation – “I am compassionate and kind to myself and others”. Reflection today – a work colleague said something annoying. I reacted sternly. I then felt bad for going against my affirmation. I could have taken a breath and considered enquiring with a more open mind into her point of view. After I reacted the way I did I could’ve recognised it as a minor setback and an opportunity to learn rather than feeling guilt or shame over neglecting my affirmation. 
This process can take some practice – but the more we practice the better and more fluid we become at cultivating positive thoughts and turning them into actions and behaviours – the closer we get to flourishing and making the world a better place. 
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