shutterstock_177110963Affirmations may sound (and feel) a little stiff and unnatural at first, but don’t worry — they work anyway. Once you get the feel of affirmations, relax and develop your own style.

You can begin by spending 15 minutes every day capturing your thought process on paper. Looking at your thoughts on paper helps you to identify the exaggerated pessimistic thoughts you have. After identifying your negative thoughts, write several positive statements for each negative one.

First, focus on what you can do about the problem. Replace unfulfilled longing with realistic goals or plans for change. When you can’t do anything to change a problematic situation, work toward acceptance.

Keep a list of your most common negative thought habits and positive alternatives for each. Refer to this list whenever negative thoughts arise, until you can substitute helpful alternatives from memory or immediately make up new thought alternatives to counter the negative thoughts. When a negative thought arises and circumstances make it impossible to read your list, read it at the next convenient moment.

Affirmations are best stated in the present tense, because, if affirmations are in future tense (“I will…”) your unconscious mind feels no urgency to act NOW. If you feel awkward stating affirmations in the present tense (as in “I am slender and healthy”) then state your affirmations as a process (as in “Each day I am become more slender and healthier.”)

Make your affirmations believable and realistic, so that you can say them with sincerity. Begin with small, easily achievable goals, and work your way up to bigger accomplishments.

You can repeat you affirmations when you are engaged in activities that do not require your full attention such as walking, raking leaves, washing dishes, cooking, shopping, cleaning, or stuck in rush-hour traffic.

You can also do this technique when your mind wanders into negativity, when you are upset, or when you want to change the direction of your thoughts for any reason.

Affirmations are more effective when the mind is relaxed and less defensive, such as just before going to sleep or just after awaking.

You can practice affirmations before, during, or after a particular problem surfaces. For example, if you are struggling with anxiety, you can practice affirmations of “I am calm and in control” while you are anxious.

Below are some examples of affirmtions that maybe useful:

I AM CARING FOR MYSELF EVERYDAY

I DO MANY THINGS WELL

I HAVE TO PUT EFFORT INTO GETTING WHAT I WANT

I AM SMART

I HAVE OVERCOME MANY SETBACKS

THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE SAME EXPERIENCE

I AM A GOOD PERSON

I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY EFFORT, NOT THE OUTCOME

I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO OVERCOME MANY CHALLENGES

I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED MANY THINGS

A LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE ME

I AM A VALUABLE PERSON

I’VE DONE WELL AT MANY THINGS

I DON’T KNOW UNLESS I TRY

I HAVE CONTROL OVER MYSELF

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