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The practice of affirmations can be a powerful means to heal, change and grow in positive directions. Correctly applied, reaching for customized affirmations is also one of the easiest, fastest, most effective ways to supercharge your life — in a given moment or situation — to activate the health-boosting hormones and processes that optimal emotional states produce in the brain and body.
When you think of it, in its simplest form, an affirmation is really anything you say or think to yourself silently or aloud. In effect, you likely practice “affirmations” around the clock – subconsciously, outside your awareness.
More specifically, however, the word “affirmations” speaks to the conscious use of words that affirm, lift up, inspire, refresh, in other words, a conscious practice of making positive statements to your self … for the purpose of optimizing performance, energizing the body’s healing processes or shifting away from toxic thought patterns that intensify fears, depression, anger, etc., to unhealthy levels.
Affirmations are a key aspect of letting go of and, or replacing old habits of negative self-talk, which most persons are conditioned to repeat, to some degree 24/7, whether they are aware of doing so or not. Because thoughts are powerful activators of automatic neural activity, which produces actual structural inside your body, when you make this a conscious process, you are literally exercising your very own built-in capacity (unique to human beings!), ultimately, to choose the beliefs that will direct the firing and wiring of cells in your brain and body.
The joining or “wiring” of brain cells, is often referred to as, “cells that fire together, wire together”; the words are used to describe what happens when we learn something new or reinforce or modify a current skill. This wiring produces different types of structural changes to the brain, literally, when groups of cells that get activated together, develop new associations, or get modified or reinforced (thicker connections) to the extent they are repeated.
This grouping of common brain cells is what learned behavior is all about; this ability of our brain allows us to walk, talk, run, write, sing, in fact any learned activity we do, and do so seemingly without thinking (in truth, it would be impossible to go to higher levels of playing an instrument or excelling in some sport with your “conscious” thinking mind!).
And it goes deeper than that; every bodily function and every aspect of your personality is somehow involved in the wiring and rewiring of groups of brain cells. Even before you were born your brain arranged cells or neurons in particular patterns, testing and rewiring its circuits, routing and rerouting its electrical signals.
This is no less than access to built-in tools that help you to become the consciously-in-command of captain of (regulating) the emotional states that shape your behaviors and life.
Negative self-talk can range from being limiting and fear- or anxiety-inducing to being just plain harsh, for example. Can you afford to put them in charge of your life and relationships?
It is estimated that every day you have about 60,000 thoughts. Many of them are not original, meaning they are not “your own” thoughts or beliefs at all. Though they can feel like “you,” many of these thought patterns were acquired subconsciously in the formative years of childhood, when children’s brains get subconsciously wired interacting with parents’ brains.
You may think your thoughts reflect “the reality” of what you experience. It is more the case, however, that your experience of the world is dramatically altered by your thoughts—especially ones tied to core (self-concept) beliefs (in other words, your thoughts about food or car choices are not likely to be as intense).
If you’ve not awakened to understanding how powerful your thoughts are, at minimum you may wish to explore this further.
Affirmations are a practice that can help you energize the kind of focus you need to lighten your mental load, to increase your happiness, to help you appreciate the little things that other people do (for you – but also in general). If you want to transform your life, more quickly than imagined, start practicing affirmations today.
Surprisingly, the practice can have an impact on your life whether you believe them fully or not. They train your mind to focus on what you really, really want – which operates as a directive of your subconscious mind.
In case you’re considering, here are a few guidelines to begin or enhance your practice:
- Make a commitment to look for and even create affirming words and phrases that most resonate with you.
- Put your favorite affirmations on index cards and keep these handy in your purse or pockets.
- Memorize the affirmations that most inspire you or help you shift out of toxic states of mind.
- Read them to yourself or aloud, at minimum, each morning and last thing before sleeping at night.
- State each affirmation three times before going to the next.
- Practice repeating each affirmation with your eyes closed, a smile on lips, enjoying the present moment.
- Whenever possible, choose to feel the emotion of gratitude for what you are affirming (act if 100% true…just for a few moments, what do have to lose?)
- Smile, and feel that smile radiate positive emotional boosts of positive or healing energy throughout your body.
- Choose to become aware of and use affirmations to replace limiting thoughts, one that have kept you overly focused on negativity, as they appear in the moment.
- Repeat certain calming affirmations whenever you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious, sad or having feelings that in general intensify negative states of mind and body.
- Use affirmations when you find yourself focusing on what you don’t want – or thoughts of what you or life or others may “lack.”
- Start thinking of yourself, and believing, to be the captain of the states of your mind and body, the creator of your thoughts and feelings and beliefs, and the chooser at any given moment of what emotion-outcomes you want to produce — inside.
- Remember you always have the power to create the life you want to live by the choices you consistently make, one moment and day at a time.
Following the guidelines above will help you replace or weaken old life-limiting beliefs, and eventually, you may find that you automatically stop thinking thoughts that used to lower or attack your esteem, ones that prevented your brain from working optimally to solve problems, or blocked your happiness!
If you’re new to this, at first, the affirmations may not feel real.
Eventually, however, repetitive thoughts persuade your subconscious mind to integrate them as a new set of beliefs about you and your life (which is also good reason to let go of repeating toxic thoughts!).
Of course, you may be not “believe” in affirmations, and as you may be reading this, telling yourself the reasons this practice “cannot” work. This too is an affirmation, however. So keep in mind that, if this is your truth, your brain and body will work hard to make this true for you.
And yes, there is a delicate balance to consider. You’re absolutely right if you’re arguing that, “Well, no matter how much I tell myself I’m a Martian, that’s not going to happen.” What you affirm must necessarily follow the laws of physics and nature as we know them – and at the same time invite us to stretch “out of the box” and keep reaching for the stars for the unknown (quantum physics…).
Finally, if you’ve tried affirmations before, believe you were diligent, yet found they didn’t work for you, you may wish to consider professional assistance. Your subconscious mind may not be “permitting” change, and a professional can help you uncover possible reasons that you may not really, really want to change deep down inside (i.e., perhaps a few limiting core beliefs formed in past experiences?).
Remember what you already know, that: attitude is everything in any life endeavor. Your mind-body or subconscious does, and keeps track and accesses at any moment the precise “attitude” you’ve trained it to have in a given situation.
In other words, your primary job is to persuade your subconscious that you are okay with a requested change deep down inside, and talking to a professional can help make conscious any limiting or blocking subconscious beliefs and experiences.
Start with a few affirmations that help you calm fears, put on a mindset of trusting yourself and caring about your self and life to bring you positive results.
Here are a few suggestions to choose from:
I love and deeply care for my self, mind and body.
I easily say no to activities that overburden my schedule.
I easily say yes to activities that are healthy for my mind, body, emotional wellbeing (spirit).
I am healthy and whole and vibrant.
I love and accept myself fully, completely, unconditionally.
I am grateful for all I am, have, give and receive.
I am grateful for my life, every breath I take, my wondrous mind and body.
I choose to celebrate and feel gratitude for each day.
I dissolve all blocks to being courageous and free to ask for what I need.
I replace indecision with calm, focused decisive action.
I notice and wisely let go of any judgments of myself or others, easily and effortlessly.
I and all others deserve to be treated with the unconditional acceptance, dignity and love we yearn for.
I consciously seek to see the best in my self and others even as we may consider requests for change.
I courageously protect my happiness.
I let go of any reluctance, resistance to my good, easily and effortlessly.
I inspire others and others inspire me to live a life of wholeness, harmony and meaning.
I approach any triggering situation in my life thoughtfully and wisely.
Now step into a state of positive expectation. Expect to feel more and more capable and calm, confident and centered, when dealing with something that previously triggered your body’s fear response in the past. Expect to be able to create the optimal happiness you want in your life at any moment.
With a positive mindset, it’s guaranteed to work. Look for and celebrate small successes. Smile a lot.
What determines the brightness of your future is not your past. The level of fulfillment you reach and fulfill does not depend on your past, and rather your commitment to the level of happiness you choose to affirm for yourself in your present moments.