Affirmations: The Quickest Way to Retrain Your Brain
Everyone is always looking for a silver bullet, a shortcut, a quick and easy answer. As you well know, there aren’t any! In order to make real changes, you will have to commit to the discipline of making a start, working hard, and continuing to stay your course. However, affirmations may be the closest thing to a quick and easy answer that you’re going to find.
Affirmations are statements of belief. By stating things out loud, you use the power of your words to train your brain to recognize your worth and to emphasize positive emotions. Affirmations can help you overcome the negativity and the limiting beliefs that are sapping the energy you could be using to work toward your goals. The words are not magic words and just saying them will not solve the problems you encounter. However, they will focus your energy on the positive, and give you the will to make the changes and do the work you need to do. Instead of engaging in limiting and negative self-talk, you will be able to identify problems and work toward solutions. Affirmations are tools to shift your perspective, because thoughts can shift emotions.
Ways to Practice Affirmations
There can be something powerful about having someone speak good over you. There are recorded affirmations that you can listen to, and you can say them along with the speaker or you can listen and soak in the words. There are apps available that let you record your own affirmations to listen to throughout the day.
Writing your Own Affirmations
If you prefer to write your own affirmations, in order to really zero in on your own limiting beliefs, take some time to get quiet and ask yourself, “Where do I feel frustration?”
Frustration is your brain’s way of figuring things out, so pay attention to that feeling and see what it brings up. If you have a lot of fear, anxiety, or overwhelm, take the time to check your alignment. Is this really what you want? Are your actions moving you toward your goals? What are the limiting beliefs you need to counteract? What are the most negative things you say about yourself?
Sometimes you just have to reframe how you are thinking about something. Instead of thinking, “I can’t eat anything on this new diet,” try thinking, “I can try something new—what are some foods that are new to me that I might enjoy?” Instead of taking something away, focus on what you are adding. This is how you reframe limiting beliefs as well. If you find yourself thinking, “I just have no self-control,” that negative emotion will perpetuate that behavior. Instead, flip it and affirm the opposite. Tell yourself, “I make choices to care for my body.” Write it down, and say it out loud to yourself to start your day and to affirm who you are. It’s likely that you aren’t even aware of how often you engage in negative self talk. Try to catch each statement that you find your brain chattering at you and reframe it into a positive and affirming statement instead.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to get you exploring what’s in your head:
What makes me feel safe?
What is my body telling me I need?
What caused this symptom?
What triggered this behavior, and how can I link that trigger to a behavior that serves me?
What things do I assume are just personality traits, and are they holding me back?
What is the worst case scenario? Could I handle that?
What do I need to learn about to support my direction?
What will happen if I don’t make a change?
Change becomes easier when you believe good things about yourself, and affirmations help you do that.
For one week, try this challenge. Write down the words, “I AM WORTH IT,” on an index card and tape it to your bathroom mirror. First thing in the morning, read those words aloud to yourself. Read those words aloud to yourself whenever you find yourself in your bathroom throughout the day, and read them as the last thing before you go to sleep. Put aside any worries about being silly, or embarrassment over talking to yourself and just try the experiment. Do this every day for one week, and then take some time to evaluate how you feel.
To join a community of positive people working to make changes, check out the TRIBE monthly membership on drtracikiernan.com. There is also a module on affirmations as part of the Lifestyle Mastery for Health e-course. You ARE worth it, and you CAN achieve your goals!