9 Science-Backed Benefits of Using Positive Affirmations

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The benefits of affirmations are evident and confirm that words do have molding power. I'm saying this from personal experience. However, I will provide scientific proof that affirmations can create a positive mindset as well as enhance our life experiences.

I once struggled with excessive overthinking, catastrophizing, and negative self-talk. I habitually said to myself, “Nothing ever goes well for me.” The more I said it, the more setbacks I experienced.

Today, I live with more self-confidence and optimism largely because of positive affirmations.

Your thoughts and self-image shape you, hence the saying, “You are what you think.” Negative thoughts typically translate to negative actions and behaviors. That is why affirmations for positive thinking are crucial, not only for your self-esteem, but also for your well-being.

Studies have already established a connection between negative thinking patterns and reduced physical and mental health.

Let's take a look at nine proven instances where positive affirmations work and how they can promote a happier, healthier, and more successful life. First, I'll whet your appetite by explaining what are positive affirmations and how to create them using examples.

Be sure to jot down the important tips for creating your list of affirmations found at the end of the article.

What are Positive Affirmations?

The word affirmation comes from the Latin word affirmare, meaning to make firm, strengthen, or fortify. Affirmations can be positive or negative declarations and generally lead to a corresponding outcome.

Brain scientists understand this and have emphasized the benefits of affirmations in various studies.

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Affirmations can be positive or negative declarations and generally lead to a corresponding outcome.

Positive affirmations are words, phrases, or statements that we repeat to help challenge negative thoughts and promote pleasant life changes. The power of positive thinking and affirmations is so evident that addiction specialists recommend their use as a relapse prevention strategy.

Regardless of the purpose, what's probably most important is believing the words and acting on them as if they were factual. Doing so helps to manifest the change or outcome you visualize.

Positive Affirmations vs Self-Affirmations vs Prayers

Self-affirmations are similar to positive affirmations, but they tend to focus primarily on changing self-limiting thoughts and beliefs that affect growth. General affirmations go wider, allowing you to focus on creating change in all areas of your life.

Prayer is a way of stating your intentions to God and believing in His power to satisfy your requests. Positive affirmations promote the idea that humans possess the power to influence change.

How to Create Positive Affirmations?

The standard way to create affirmations is to write them down on sticky notes, in a book, or journal. Some people prefer vision boards and personal recordings. The idea is to use a form that allows you to visualize what you're intending to manifest or achieve. Maybe it's your dream job or quitting a destructive habit. Whatever it is, you can follow these three basic steps to create affirmations:

  1. Think about what you're hoping to change or improve about yourself or your life. This will guide the type of affirmations you choose. Are you attempting to change your thinking patterns or achieve a goal? There are different types of affirmations, such as “releasing” affirmations, e.g., releasing fear or worry. Other types focus on health, wealth, self-love, romantic love, self-esteem, forgiveness, and happiness.
  2. Make a list of the most important areas of your life you wish to improve. It's okay if you only desire change in one area. For me, self-love was the biggest concern. I needed to affirm that I loved myself and act in ways that supported my belief. Two important changes were required to create this new core belief. I needed to quit people-pleasing and learn to say, “NO.”
  3. Write or list out a few positive statements for each type of affirmation you selected. For example, under self-love, you can write statements such as, “I love myself,” and “I am enough.” Using “I” and “My” language makes it personal. If you're struggling with a negative belief, write a positive affirmation that counteracts it.

As you can see, the process is more than simply picking a phrase and repeating it. It needs to mean something to you. You're unique, so your choice of words needs to reflect your core personal values. You can quickly and easily create your list of affirmations by drawing inspiration from the following sources:

  • Self-affirmation cards
  • Self-help books
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Self-empowerment articles
  • YouTube Videos

Examples of Positive Affirmations

  • I make good decisions. (self-confidence)
  • Money flows freely to me. (wealth)
  • My body is healthy. (health)
  • I am talented. (self-esteem)
  • I deserve to be happy. (happiness)
  • I am at peace. (acceptance/letting go)
  • I am so grateful for life. (gratitude)

People on a spiritual or self-improvement journey often add meditation or yoga to their daily affirmations practice. Meditation is a mindfulness technique used for calming racing or negative thoughts.

It teaches you to turn your attention to what's present, allowing you to let go of fear, worry, and anxiety in the process. Here are a few examples of affirmations to increase positive energy:

  • Everything is good.
  • I am in control of my emotions, thoughts, and actions.
  • Peace flows through my mind and body.
  • I release tension and anxiety.
  • I am at peace with myself.
  • I inhale peace and harmony. I exhale stress and worries.

Remember these are just examples of generic affirmations. You can tweak the ones that resonate to match your personal intentions.

9 Proven Benefits of Positive Affirmations

Research suggests affirmations work because they stimulate neural activities that promote change. Besides manifesting your intentions, affirmations influence how you think and feel. Negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings can create unwanted stress, anxiety, and hopelessness.

As you begin or continue utilizing affirmations to reprogram your subconscious, expect to reap the following health and well-being benefits:

1. Decrease health-deteriorating stress

In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Newberg, and communications expert, Mark Robert Waldman, stated, a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

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Affirmations work because they stimulate neural activities that promote change.

Contrary to what many people believe, not all stress is bad. Stress can motivate and encourage change. However, chronic harmful stress or distress increases your risk for long-term health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease.

According to a study, there is even a stronger link between stressful life events and mental illnesses.

2. Control self-sabotaging thoughts and speech

Self-sabotaging thoughts often lead to negative or self-defeating talk that may cause you to resist life-improving changes. These thoughts surface from your inner-critical voice, which tries to convince you that you ARE NOT and CAN NOT.

Believing this inner dialogue may leave you feeling sad, depressed, unworthy, and undeserving.

A thought such as, “You can't get that job,” may prevent you from pursuing it. Telling yourself, “I don't deserve him. He's too good for me,” can foil your chance for a happy relationship. Both outcomes represent a threat to career success and romantic happiness.

According to an article published by Psych Central, Self-Sabotage: Why You Hold Yourself Back, timely affirmations empower you to shift the internal narrative. Furthermore, by engaging in more positive self-talk, “…you can begin to stop self-sabotaging and work towards the life you deserve.”

3. Reduce anxiety

Many of us struggle with a tendency to overthink or worry about things we have no control over. Other times, we expect the worst possible outcome, also known as catastrophizing.

These habits have a way of making us feel anxious and panicky. In fact, chronic, excessive worrying is a symptom of anxiety disorder.

Incidentally, reduced anxiety is one of the benefits of affirmations. Psychology experts refer to their relieving effects as the power of positive thinking.

One study examined whether replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and imagining positive outcomes could control Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The researchers concluded that replacing worrisome thinking with “different forms of positive ideation” might be an effective way to conquer worry.

4. Improve mood

Low mood for a prolonged period is a sign of depression and can interfere with your quality of life. Consider affirmations as a form of positive self-talk that can change your point of view, enhance your mood, and relieve depression symptoms. 

They work the same way negative self-talk does. The difference, though, is the many benefits of affirmations on your overall quality of life.

Saying, “I'm an amazing person,” or “I grow and improve every day,” are examples of mood-enhancing statements. You can repeat them to counteract self-sabotaging talk, beliefs, and behaviors. A study confirms that such positive statements may also help manage negative thinking associated with depression.

The researchers suggest that affirmations help because they encourage a broader perspective of yourself or your current situation.

5. Promote positive coping

Humans tend to look for the easy way out when confronted with stressful life challenges. Taking the path of least resistance may involve unhealthy coping behaviors, such as drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs.

There is well-established evidence that chronic substance use can cause or worsen mental illnesses.

An effective way to change unhealthy behaviors and improve health is by talking yourself into acting in self-supporting ways. Choose to control the narrative using dialogues such as, “I am capable of getting through difficult times.”

One of my favorite things to say in crises is, “I am doing the best I can with what I have.”

Words, such as those, have a way of putting your mind at ease and providing reassurance that everything will be alright. Take note of how your perspective influences healthy coping behaviors. Maybe you'll decide to relax and read a book or talk to a trusted friend instead.

6. Enhance self-esteem

Self-esteem refers to your self-image and sense of self-worth. Those who struggle with low self-worth appear to have less motivation to succeed. They might be more likely to engage in unhealthy coping behaviors.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), low self-esteem is linked to mental health issues and a poor quality of life.

Repeating affirmations form a wall of defense around you, thereby enabling you to resist thoughts and feelings that erode self-worth.

Researchers in a 2016 study made a comparison between people who used affirmations and those who didn't. They found that individuals who practiced positive self-affirmations showed a higher level of activity in regions of the brain that allow humans to recognize their own worth.

7. Improve problem-solving under stress

How many times have you found yourself saying, “I don't think I can get through this?” The chance of making poor decisions increases under stress accompanied by beliefs that threaten your abilities.

I believe this is a perfect time to take advantage of the power of affirmations. Processing your thoughts and feelings about the situation allows you to deal with problems more objectively.

A study confirms that people can boost their problem-solving abilities under pressure through self-affirmation. During the study, chronically stressed participants performed just as well under pressure as participants who had lower stress levels.

8. Can help you find love

Feeling loved and belonged in a romantic relationship automatically provides a sense of happiness and well-being. We feel better about ourselves, experience more positive moods, and engage in healthier behaviors. However, love seems elusive for many of us.

You can literally attract love into your life by believing that love exists and you're deserving of it. The idea is grounded in a philosophy known as the Law of Attraction.

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Feeling loved and belonged in a romantic relationship automatically provides a sense of happiness and well-being.

The law suggests that positive thoughts create positive energy, and can attract desires such as love, happiness, and wealth into your life.

However, you must believe you're deserving of what you intend to manifest. Keep in mind that possessing self-love is a huge part of harnessing the power of love. “I am worthy of love,” “I radiate love,” “I am loved,” and “I am open to receiving abundant love” are statements for attracting love into your life.

9. May change outcomes

Speaking with optimism when confronted with information that appears threatening to your well-being can lead to positive results. Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, suggested the same idea in their book. They wrote, “…exercising positive thoughts can quite literally change one’s reality.”

Affirming that the outcome will be different than you earlier anticipated provides motivation to act in ways that lead to pleasant results. According to Amy Morin, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Editor-in-Chief of VeryWellMind, “When that frame [point-of-view] is shifted, the meaning changes and thinking and behavior often change along with it.”

Those who practice mindfulness techniques are able to catch themselves and immediately reframe or shift their thinking. Reframing a negative thought about your abilities or a situation to view it in a positive light is a cognitive process that enables you to act accordingly.

Tips for Creating Affirmations

  • Make them short and easy to remember. (3-6 words are ideal).
  • Start your affirmations with “I” or “My.” 
  • Write them in the present tense.
  • Use statements that declare you already are or have whatever you desire.
  • Ensure your affirmations are reasonable and realistic.
  • Create a safe space where you can sit, meditate, and recite your affirmations.
  • Recite your positive affirmations daily (daily mantra) until they become new core beliefs.

Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Affirmations

Taking advantage of daily positive affirmations is all about rewiring your brain. This form of subconscious reprogramming requires you to say things to validate your self-worth, your abilities, and your entire existence.

Manifesting positive thoughts confirms that you are largely in control of the outcome of the things you desire. Be sure to add any of these 45 Positive Affirmations for Anxiety Relief and Stress Reduction to your list to further enhance your efforts on becoming your most powerful and confidence self.

And if you want more encouraging affirmations, be sure to check out these blog posts:

Finally, if you want a simple tool to record and recite these affirmations, then check out these 13 affirmations apps that help you create a positive mindset.

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