By Vladimir Marchenko
Self-hypnosis techniques began to take shape at the beginning of the 20th century along with the self-help doctrine. Affirmations have become one of the main elements of these techniques. E. Kue became the pioneer of practical use of affirmations, which have gained wide popularity in recent decades. What is it and is there evidence of the practical usefulness of inspirational affirmations?
What is affirmation
Affirmation is a short phrase containing a verbal formula which expresses a positive image or attitude. Regular repetition fixes the content on the subconscious level, helps to improve the psychoemotional state and stimulates positive changes in life. Basically, you inspire yourself with the axioms of success, self-acceptance, the pursuit of wealth and a healthy lifestyle, etc.
Affirmations should not be repeated mechanically, but with sincerity and positive thinking, while believing and striving for what you repeat everyday. This is the only approach to gain confidence in your abilities and change the world around you.
How to create affirmation
Short motivational affirmations can be either written “for yourself” or found on the Internet. However, how to verify their “efficiency” and distinguish them from a simple set of words? When creating (or searching) for good affirmation, check that it complies with several mandatory rules:
1. Formulate a statement in the present tense. Avoid future-oriented phrases like “I will buy a car” or the past “I was happy in Cuba”. Instead, use "I'm doing what I love."
2. Don’t use negative particles. Meaning that instead of saying “I don’t feel any discomfort,” just say “I feel comfortable.” or “I feel a pleasant relaxation.”
3. Choose only one group of affirmations for a certain period of time. We surely all want to be rich, slender, happy and motivated right here right now. But our brain prefers to work with solo tasks, so you need to highlight the most important thing for yourself right now on your way to happiness. Is it about self-confidence or maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
4. Split long phrase into short ones. Affirmation must be short, strict and clear. Replace the walla text in the manner of “I want to find a good job near my house, an excellent team and a high salary, and so that there is less work” with “I have a senior position”, “I mean for the company”, “they love me in the team”, "My earnings allow me to make dreams come true".
5. Regular repetition is the key to success. Affirmations are nothing like nice aphorism that you heard once, and then wait for the right moment to use it in a conversation. You need to repeat them regularly and better several times a day during months. It should become a habit, like brushing your teeth.
What is the difference between affirmation and visualization
These two mental health practices are similar at first glance. They both are:
- psychological attitudes, or “anchors”;
- regularly played by the user;
- attuned to positive life changes;
- complementing each other on the way to life changes.
Differences can be made in several directions. Firstly, if affirmation is always a speech turn uttered “to oneself” or read / heard somewhere, then visualization is a picture in your head, an image or a scene from your expected life. Motivating phrases affect the speech and auditory centers of the brain, while visualizations affect the visual ones. It is generally thought that visualization suits better for people with a dominant visual system, and affirmations for the rest, but again it is worth noting that they do not conflict, but complement each other.
A more subtle distinction is made by psychologists. They consider affirmations an element of self-hypnosis when you force yourself to believe in your own virtues and positive character traits. During visualization, future programming and phased association with expected accomplishments occur.
Do affirmations work - scientific evidence
The main question that bothers everyone who wants to improve mental health is: “How do I know if affirmations work?” Indeed, in such a delicate sphere as consciousness and the subconscious, it is difficult to apply any measuring instruments. However, scientific research has been carried out in this area of psychology.
In 1988, C. M. Steele published “The Psychology of Self-Affirmation: Sustaining the Integrity of the Self”. It stated that self-assertion processes are activated in response to external information that threatens the integrity of the individual. In fact, it was a natural defensive reaction to the threat of a person’s opinion of himself.
In 2014, a larger study was conducted by G. L. Cohen and D. K. Sherman. In The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention, they suggested that self-awareness is part of self-efficacy - the ability to respond to self-esteem threats. That is, an internal motive to increase self-awareness is the natural need for protection from psychological threats. Sometimes it is called self-affirmation.
But is it possible to detect specific changes? In 2016, a group of scientists in the study “Self-Affirmation Activates Brain Systems Associated with Self-Related Processing and Reward and is Reinforced by Future Orientation” announced the observed changes in the brain that were fixed using MRI. Increased activity was recorded in key areas of the brain responsible for planning (medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate gyrus) and emotions (ventral striatum). Positive statements influenced user activity in the expectation of future results.
In addition, it turned out that affirmations optimize physical activity (Self-Affirmation Promotes Physical Activity; Cooke et al., 2014) and the use of fruits and vegetables to strengthen health (Self-affirmation Promotes Health Behavior Change; T. Epton and P.R. Harris). In 2017, a small study Feeling Left Out, but Affirmed: Protecting against the Negative Effects of Low Belonging in College came out, in which it was claimed that students with low self-esteem could use affirmations as an additional source of self-support.
We have given only a few examples, although much more research has been carried out in different years. The overall message is that affirmations do provide at least an additional incentive for self-acceptance and positive life changes.
How to benefit the most from affirmations
You can often hear the Pollyanna viewpoint, saying that affirmations really work, but also cause a negative effect. For example, a person faces an incongruity with reality when he focuses on possessing something (usually material), which he really does not have. Repeating affirmation, but not doing anything to achieve the goal, will get you nothing. It is important to remember here that affirmations are not magic wands that can change your life in a couple of weeks. The magic happens when not only you choose the right affirmation, but also take real actions aimed at approaching your dream.
You can also get too carried away wearing pink glasses in relation to yourself and the world around. It means that the constant repetition of such phrases like “I am on the right track” or “the money falls into my pocket” can come to a hard contradiction with reality. Everyone makes mistakes and financial well-being consists of many factors. Escaping from reality can lead you to a risk of being “locked” in a high, lonely castle, because any social interactions will contradict your preferences. How to avoid this?
When creating affirmations for the Hypnopedia application, we tried to take into account all of the above. Firstly, we proceeded from the supporting role of motivating attitudes in your life. You are the only person who is able to find opportunities and overcome obstacles to achieving your goals, affirmations only act as an additional support. They neutralize negative attitudes and activate a protection from external invasions. Secondly, affirmations that we recorded are more focused on strengthening self-confidence and invoking the necessary traits to achieve different goals. For example:
- I am full of energy and vitality, my mind is calm and peaceful;
- I am fine with who I am, and I love who I am becoming;
- I believe in myself, and trust my own wisdom;
- I wake up happy and excited every single day;
- Positivity is a choice, I choose to be positive;
- I am happy and free because I am me, etc.
All affirmations are categorized (Self, Love, Common, Daily, Food, etc.) for convenient selection of the most suitable set at the moment.
! For maximum effect, it is recommended to listen and pronounce affirmations "through yourself" at least once during the daytime - after waking up, in the middle of the day or in the evening !
An important feature of the Hypnopedia app is that affirmations are played during sleep without waking the user. Proofs of the effective perception of information in a dream are given in the articles on the Science tab. Accessing the depths of the human psyche during sleeptime has certain advantages, since in a dream you can bypass the critical cognitive system that prevents information from reaching the subconscious. There are also no reasons to be afraid of extraneous affirmations, since all of them can be pre-listened in advance. The moment for playing is determined by the algorithm individually and is based on data received from Apple Watch sensors. To make sure that the gadget collects the correct data, it was compared with the data obtained using a professional equipment — polysomnograph. Thus, an additional motivator is fixed in the subconscious while you are sleeping.
Tips for using affirmations:
- combine affirmations with meditation;
- enhance them with additional positive emotions;
- write down the most relevant affirmations and place them in prominent places;
- if necessary, change the wording of affirmations to your needs;
- sincerely believe in the power of motivating attitudes and their effectiveness.
Affirmations are an important element of the psychological transformation of personality. For some it will be enough to use only them to gradually start a new life. For others, they will become one of the elements of the program. It is important to remember that inspirational statements do work and tune the subconscious mind in a positive way even during sleeptime. Using them ultimately strengthens mental health and inner strength. Try our app just now:Ссылка App Store