Affirmations 101

The use of affirmations has mixed reviews: some users report miraculous results, while others only frustration.

This is a quick guide to making affirmations work for you.

But first, what is an affirmation and what’s it for?

An affirmation is a positive phrase describing a positive outcome or achievement in your life. Use your affirmations to get yourself in a positive state of mind and help motivate you toward your goals.

  1. Make it simple, short, declarative and affirmative.

Make your affirmation easy to say and remember, so that it becomes almost like a mantra that you can repeat easily throughout the day. Wordsmithing eloquence may be desirable in speech and debate, or even perhaps when trying to lengthen your essay to give pages, but it’s not as useful here. Keep it simple! It’s important to make the affirmations positive and affirmative.  For example, “I am going to quit falling asleep in class” could be rephrased to “I am now enjoying being alert in Art History class”.

  1. Keep it moderate.  

I’m not exactly a fan of using the word “realistic” because I actually do truly believe that you could get a 1600 on the SAT, no matter how “realistic” or “unrealistic” it sounds.  Often what we consider to be realistic is only what we have experienced as our potential up until that moment. I can tell you that human beings have enormous potential, often unseen and untapped. So we’ll leave the word “realistic” to someone else, and instead choose “moderate”. So keep your affirmations moderate - believable to you.

Where affirmations can sometimes get a little tricky is when they are so grandiose that they create “cognitive dissonance”  “Cognitive Dissonance” is when your brain, in response to a phrase or idea throws a little fit and says, NO WAY OWAY CAN'T BELIEVE CANT COMPUTE MUST SHUT DOWN. In this case, the affirmation won’t work, because your supercomputer just vetoed it.

For example:

“I will get a 1600 on my SAT” can be rephrased as “I will succeed on the test, getting the perfect score for me.”  “I am going to get a perfect score on my midterm” is changed to “I am well prepared for my exams.”

Trust your intuition to create affirmations that are in just the right area between challenge and believability (to you).

  1. Say it often

In some not so subtle sense, the use of positive affirmations is a self-hypnosis tool best applied through massive repetition.  The ideal here is that for every time you heard a “You can’t do math”, or every time you tell yourself “I can't do Math”, you are reprogramming your dear little brainy brain to say “Fi! “ I am getting better at math everyday.” Keep repeating it and eventually you will believe it.

  1. Body posture

    Body posture has a lot to do with mood and affect. Did you ever wonder why your grandmother told you to sit up straight? Or why emo guitar boys stair at the floor when playing?  A closed inward posture (think folding in like a chair or inward posture) takes you inward. When you're trying to do something, you want to take a posture of outward. Try this: Stand like a superhero with your hands on your hips, hips shoulder width apart, and say, “I am confident all is well.”  Doesn't that make a difference?

  1. Take the action steps.

    Your positive mental attitude will take you far young grasshopper, and you must also work. Make sure to make a positive commitment to yourself to make your affirmations comet true. Schedule your practice time a few days a week and make sure to say your affirmations at the beginning and end of your sessions. Chances are you’ll feel so good doing it, and you will improve so rapidly, that you'll actually want to do your homework.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Everyday is getting better and better.

  2. I now enjoy eating healthy food.

  3. I am powerful.

  4. I am getting better at this test every time I practice.

  5. I know I will find the perfect college for me.

  6. All is well.


For more information about the superhero pose, see this video: