How affirmative thinking can change the way of life

Positive Affirmations: Do They Really Work?

You’ve probably heard about positive affirmations.

These mantras are usually mentioned when people speak about meditation, mindfulness, and spirituality.

But, what are positive affirmations?

These are statements or phrases that challenge negative thoughts.

While you might think that positive affirmations are focused on trying to convince yourself that you’re feeling positive, they are about much more than that.

Here is what you should know about them and how to tap into their power.

Positive Affirmations For A Positive Mindset? 

Positive Affirmations For A Positive Mindset

It’s a fact: using positive affirmations can help you to change your brain’s thought patterns.

This is because how you use your brain can change it. Your thought patterns teach your brain to use them instead of other thought patterns.

So, if you’re always telling yourself that you’re a failure or you don’t have self-confidence, your brain will find it easier for you to continue telling yourself that and believe it. 

By infusing your mind with a more optimistic attitude and mindset, this is what can become your brain’s go-to thoughts and beliefs, which will have a positive effect on the rest of your life.  

It’s also worth remembering that your brain is very powerful. It cannot distinguish between reality and imagination.

This is why when you imagine yourself doing something that frightens you, such as sky-diving or doing a presentation in front of 100 people, your brain believes these visualizations. If you see yourself doing them well, your brain will expect that positive outcome.

Based on that, your brain can also believe what you tell yourself during positive affirmations. 

How Do Positive Affirmations Really Work?

When you tell yourself positive affirmations, over time and with repetition, they start to become embedded in the subconscious mind.

They will be believed by you, and this can make them a reality. They’re essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The negative beliefs you previously had will fade away as they are replaced with positive beliefs that will help you live a more positive and confident life.

Science backs up the powerful effect of positive affirmations. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans have shown that neural pathways in the brain’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex are increased when people get into the habit of saying positive affirmations.

This area in the brain is associated with self-related information processing and positive valuation. 

Why Do Positive Affirmations Not Feel Like They Work Sometimes?

How Do Positive Affirmations Really Work

If you’ve ever been in the situation of trying to use positive affirmations but feeling like they just don’t work for you, you might have wondered why. There’s an interesting reason.

In a study by University of Waterloo researchers participants were asked to list positive and negative thoughts they had about themselves.

The researchers found that people who had low self-esteem were in a better mood when they had negative thoughts!

When they used positive affirmations, these were not in sync with their mindsets, and this caused negative feelings which caused the participants to have more negative thoughts.

However, there is a way around this problem: starting with neutral phrases and statements instead of positive affirmations right away can be helpful to train your brain to believe the positive statements.  

Canadian researcher from the University of Waterloo, Dr. Joanne Wood, found that this can help to train the brain to get used to the positive statements. So, instead of telling yourself something like, “I’m going to have amazing days at work,” you should keep the sentiment more neutral.

An example would be, “I’ve had bad days but also good ones. I’m okay.” Such neutral statements will prevent your mind from causing conflict or negative feelings which can make you feel negative. How To Make Positive Affirmations More Effective 

Although positive affirmations are quick and easy to do, and you can fit them into a busy schedule, there are some important ways in which to make them powerful. 

Use Present-Tense Affirmations

The whole point of affirmations is to help you feel more confident. If you’re using them in the future tense, they won’t work as effectively to get you into a positive mindset you can use right now.

So, instead of saying, “I will have all the skills required to excel at my new job,” it’s more powerful to say, “I have all the skills required to excel at my new job.”

Avoid Generic Affirmations

You can find examples of affirmations anywhere and everywhere, but to really make them effective it’s a good idea to customize them according to your goals.

It’s also a good idea to link them to important values, such as honesty or kindness, because they will keep you centered on the bigger picture, helping you to focus on things that mean a lot to you.

Unveil Negative Feelings 


If you battle to believe your positive affirmations, there could be a reason for this that requires some exploring.

Write down what you consider to be your negative traits. You should also include any criticisms others have given you. Then, look for a common theme in the traits, such as that you don’t feel worthy or you feel you’re not loveable. Ask yourself if this criticism is productive in your life. If it isn’t, then think about what you would like to replace it with.

This exercise can help you to find the most effective affirmations that are customized to your specific situation. For example, your affirmation could be “I am worthy and valuable.” 

Stick To An Affirmation Habit 

You want to get into the daily habit of using positive affirmations. Here are some tips to bear in mind.

  • Although there are no hard and fast rules about how often you should do positive affirmations, it’s a good idea to recite them daily. Aim for between three to five minutes, at least twice a day. It’s a good idea to tell yourself positive affirmations after waking up in the morning as that will be a good way to start your day!
  • Repeat the affirmation 10 times. You should say it out loud and really concentrate on the words and their meaning. You must believe that the words you’re saying are true. A study found that saying affirmations and listening to them – whether that involves listening to your voice or a recording of it – decreases stress. This is said to be as a result of how the affirmations increase your self-worth via dispositional views of the self.
  • Reel in a loved one. It can be effective to ask a loved one to repeat your affirmation to you – this can help you to believe the statements much more. Asking for another person’s help is also useful if you battle to believe the positive affirmations as hearing them from someone else can feel more authentic.
  • Use powerful words. Once you have thought about the affirmations you want to use that will replace the negative ideas you have about yourself, it’s good to think about using powerful and empowering words. For instance, instead of using “worthy,” you could try, “remarkable.”
  • Focus on the discomfort in your body. An interesting tip is to think about where in your body you feel discomfort when you think about your negative traits. For example, you might feel a tightness in your throat or stomach. When you start telling yourself positive affirmations, it’s a useful exercise to anchor the affirmation into your body by putting a hand on the area that previously felt uncomfortable.

Good Examples Of Positive Affirmationsš

  • “I am confident socially and enjoy meeting new people.”
  • “I am so happy and grateful that I now have a bigger house.” 
  • “I am so happy and grateful that I have reached my ideal weight.”
  • “I make the best out of any situation in my life.” 
  • “I turn obstacles into learning opportunities and self-growth.” 
  • “I stand up for my values and beliefs.” 
  • “I am worthy of what I desire.”
  • “I am the hero of my own life.” 

A Common Mistake People Make When Using Positive Affirmations 

affirmative post-it

While you might think that your work is done once you’ve completed your daily routine of positive affirmations, it’s a misconception that you don’t have to do anything else. 

Although positive affirmations are powerful, they’re not going to magically transform your life.

They work on a spiritual level and help you to start with a positive mindset, but you need to take action with the energy that the affirmations have given you in order to make changes in your life!

How To Use Affirmations During Meditation

Positive affirmations can make your meditation sessions more powerful, but you might not be sure how to incorporate them into your regular meditations.

Here are two methods in which you can do so successfully. 

Method 1:

  1. When you start to meditate and clear your mind, it can be powerful to do your affirmations. For example, “I am loved and supported.” 
  2. Then, take this statement one step further by feeling what the sentiment actually means. What does it feel like to be genuinely loved? 
  3. You could even visualize things or people who remind you of love, such as deeds of love that others have done for you. This is powerful in that it helps to add emotional weight to the positive affirmations you tell yourself, and it can make it easier to work through the statements than if you’re only using words.

Method 2:

Another great idea of how to add positive affirmations to meditation is with the use of mala beads, which are prayer beads.

These beads come in handy because you can hold each bead while repeating your affirmation. This is not only calming but it helps you to remain focused on the affirmation. 

How Long Does It Take For Affirmations To Work?

affirmative thoughts

While it might take you a few weeks to start believing your positive affirmations whereas it could take your friend months for them to work, research has found that you can generally expect your positive affirmations to take around 66 days to have an effect. 

That said, researchers of the study state that changing a belief which you’ve had for a long time or trying to change your self-image can take a longer time than that, so be patient and stick to your daily affirmations! 

Related Questions 

How many positive affirmations should you have?

While you might think having more positive affirmations is better, avoid having more than 10. This can overwhelm you and put pressure on yourself to live up to all the statements.

What are some examples of positive affirmations for anxiety?

There are many affirmations you can use if you want to eliminate your anxiety, such as “I release the past and embrace the present,” “I am a brave and remarkable person,” and “I choose nourishing and positive thoughts.” 


If you want to feel less stress, more confidence, and be a positive change in your life, you should start using positive affirmations.

These statements help you to shift your thinking, which is valuable because your thoughts are the first step to ensuring you can live a happier life.

In this article, we’ve provided you with examples of positive affirmations as well as how to use them and make them more powerful.


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