Updated: Mar 9
TikTok and Instagram are filled with people praising affirmations and how they have changed their life for the better. But you're skeptical. Here's the brain science behind why affirmations work!
Let's start with the basics, even though the word doesn't sound basic. Metacognition is the concept that YOU are the one having the thoughts. When we see ourselves as separate from the thought we realize we don't have to be led around by whatever pops into our mind. As a result, we also realize that if a thought arises we do not like, we can just change it! It's that easy! Or is it...
Most people aren't even aware that they have between 60,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. Many are helpful. "Oh, I better run to the ATM today so I have cash for the Farmer's Market". Others are not. "Sarah, why the heck did you leave the clothes in the washer AGAIN?!" For the peskier, meaner negative thoughts we often consider them harmless but here's the thing...
The longer we allow a negative thought to persist the more ingrained it becomes. It turns into a BELIEF. "I am someone who forgets important things and ruins my clothing". And that's just a mild example. Sometimes the belief is far more nefarious.
I am unlovable.
No one likes me.
I screw up everything.
This will never work out.
There is no way I will ever get ahead.
These messages, said over and over in our mind, create well-worn pathways to the brain. In fact, the Sanskrit word 'Mantra' means 'brain path'. The more you have a thought, the faster it becomes a mantra and the harder it is to root out. Negative thoughts should NOT be your mantras! Instead, we want to create NEW ones! Positive ones! Thus positive affirmations were born.
The trick to using positive affirmations is to directly confront a limiting belief you hold. So first, take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. Sit down and think about all the awful, nasty, unhelpful things you say to yourself. On the left-hand side, write down these negative thoughts. Then, next to each one on the right-hand side, write a statement that destroys this belief. Here is an example:
There is no way this is going to work. ---> ---> ---> Things are always working out for me!
The next step-- and the one that people tend to slip up on-- is to repeat the positive affirmation over and over so IT becomes the well-worn pathway to the brain. This takes WEEKS even MONTHS to work. Most people give up long before then. But I have changed my entire outlook on life with affirmations and I've seen my clients do so as well!
Tell me! What positive affirmations could you start saying today that would chase those negative thoughts away?? Leave a comment below!