Do Positive Affirmations Really Work?

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Like everything in life there is no 100% guarantee of anything. Although obviously we here at  Positive Life Affirmations are HUGE fans of positive affirmations, we like to offer you the best information in the most honest way possible, so we've got to tell you that there is no guarantee that a positive affirmation will work all of the time.

Ultimately when it comes to considering whether positive affirmations work or not, there is no right or wrong answer. Rather there is a lot of nuance as to why positive affirmations do and do not work in different circumstances. For the sake of fairness, we've put up brief points describing the strengths and weaknesses of positive affirmations, so that you can try to stick to your positive affirmation in such a way that'll help you get the results you are seeking.

The Strengths of Positive Affirmations

They can change the way our brains functions…

Psychologically speaking positive affirmations can rewire our brain so that it literally begins functioning differently. How our brains function is that we get into the habit of certain thought patterns. Just like how we can get can stuck in cycles of negative self-talk and bad thoughts, by inserting positive affirmations we are teaching the brain to take the positive route rather than the negative ones. The more we practice thinking the positively the easier it becomes for our brains to handle.

Serving as almost a meditation… 

For better or worse, our modern brains are constantly being filled with an onslaught of information. It is a rare occasion we get to take a second to just  focus on one thing. By having a positive affirmation we repeat regularly, we give our brain the chance to stop and focus on just ONE thing. Ultimately this skill to clear the mind comes in useful in many facets of life, because when we can clear our minds of clutter, we can focus in of aspects of life that matter.

A constant reminder…

Positive affirmations work as constant reminders of our goals. As busy as everyone gets, it can be easy to put our long term goals off to the side. By having a positive affirmation you remind yourself of the improvement you want to to make.

A free personal trainers… 

The industry to pay people basically to do what positive affirmations can do is enormous.  When you think about what motivational coaches, personal trainers, etc. do for a living – a big part of what these people do is try to beat some positivity into their clients. A positive affirmation will do this for free!

The Weaknesses of Positive Affirmations 

You have to believe…

If you feel like your positive affirmation is a lie then you can get stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk. For example, if you say "I'm a generous and kind person" then just focus on all the mean and selfish things you've done rather than focus on the things you will and want to do with a generous heart, you aren't going to make progress with your positive affirmation.

It takes an investment of time and energy… 

Your positive affirmation will not do the work for you. For one, you have to invest the energy it takes to really pick out a positive affirmation that speaks to you. Second, you have to do the work it takes to make that positive affirmation true.

You need to find a positive affirmation that works for you… 

A recent study examined why positive affirmation don't seem to work for some people. They found for some people positive affirmations that acknowledge negative thoughts could make the positive affirmation more useful. An example of this is the difference between saying "I am an interesting person who has a lot smart things to say" versus "I'm an interesting person who has a lot of smart things to say, but I keep on getting shy due to negative thoughts. How can I fix this next time I'm in a conversation?" By tailoring a positive affirmation more specifically to your achievements and goals rather than some abstract idea, sometimes that makes positive affirmations work better for people.

They can't turn you into Hercules… 

Setting realistic expectations is a huge part of making the small changes we want to in life. By understanding that we may not change into Hercules over night or ever, we can achieve goals that are within our reach. This doesn't mean on giving up on the desire for big changes in life, but it means having the willpower to take the small steps to reach the bigger goals.


Psych Central 

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.