Affirmations: How Do They Work?

We see affirmations all over social media. They are everywhere. Sometimes we can feel bombarded by them, which almost makes them meaningless. But should we pay more attention? Do affirmations actually benefit us? If so, how do they work? We’ll answer these questions and more to help you decide if affirmations are a practice you want to begin.

What Are Affirmations?

In the late 1980s, social psychologist Claude Steele presented the theory of positive self-affirmation. This study states that when one’s self-integrity is threatened or damaged, the best way to react is to reestablish it via positive affirmations.

Some examples of positive affirmations include:

  1. I am capable and effective at my skill set.
  2. I have the strength to persevere through my health challenges.
  3. I am a good parent and am doing my best.
  4. Today was hard, but I was able to overcome the challenges I faced.

Benefits of Affirmations

Positive self-affirmations are said to help physical and psychological reactions to stress. The theory states that affirmations can help you better cope with how defensive you get, some of your health issues, academic performance, and more. These affirmations can remind you to respect yourself and enable you to be a more confident, rational individual.

Affirmations can also help reshape a pattern of negative thoughts. Think of them like a muscle that you have to work out to keep it from tightening up. Positive self-affirmations can assist you in staying away from unhelpful thinking patterns, such as:

Tunnel Vision: Having tunnel vision places you in a position where you cannot see a positive outcome. You might be thinking the worst of yourself or an outcome that has not yet occurred, ultimately not looking at every part of a situation. Tunnel vision can dig you even deeper into a hole of despair.

Catastrophizing: Having catastrophizing thoughts can set you on a path of distress and hopelessness. These negative thoughts can create mountains out of molehills and are only a disservice to your well-being.

Thinking in Black and White: Life has so much gray area. Although some situations are only right or wrong, many have other components that need to be considered. Living in extremes can contribute to unhappiness and lack of success.

These are just three examples of areas that can be worked on by using positive self-affirmations. Reprogramming how you view yourself, life’s complications, and the people in your life are highly beneficial to your mental health and physical health.

The Catch

Be wary of falling into a trap where you believe that simply saying positive affirmations will give you the results you want. If you fail, it is important not to rebound with negative thoughts. A lot of learning and growth can come with failing, so continue to use self-affirmations to move forward.

Affirmations Are Not BS

If you create affirmations customized to your day, your personal self goals, and your struggles, they can be very beneficial. If you think the affirmations you see on social media are hokey or trivial, ignore those and create your own!


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