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Positive affirmations are a fantastic weapon to improve happiness and help with goal setting. We sure ❤️ them in the NLP world. What’s not to love about a little positive pep-talk, maybe in front of a mirror, holding a hairbrush as a mic?

You are a strong warrior with infinite wisdom

… or are you?

Everyone from Oprah to your favourite ASMRtist has jumped on the positive affirmation bandwagon as of lately, and with good reason. Positive affirmations train your brain like exercises at the gym train your body: repetitions that are tough at the beginning, eventually become second nature, are become something you internalise and are now part of you (like great glutes)

BUT. The thing with positive affirmations is that your brain needs to believe them. There’s no fooling the old guy, and there’s no shortcuts when it comes to setting goals and visualising yourself in a brighter light, so here’s a quick guide on how to ace that pep talk in 5 steps.

  • Be Specific

Just like goals need to be specific, affirmations need to be specific, plausible, possible, and true. The more detail we give our brain to work with, the more likely it is to be able to visualise it, internalise it and ultimately believe it.

Instead of saying ‘You are strong’ or ‘You’re a warrior’ or ‘You can do this’, try something more specific like ‘You have shown resilience in these tough times’ or ‘You are well-prepared and competent’. Give your positive affirmations as much colour and shape as you can.

  • Make Them Evolving

Our moods, dreams and struggles are ever changing and mutating, so our affirmations should not only reflect that, but also remaining moving and malleable.

Instead of saying ‘I am happy and calm’, try ‘I am becoming a happier and calmer person’. Instead of saying ‘I am beautiful and confident’ try ‘I am falling in love with myself more and more each day’. Give your positive affirmations a feeling of growth and possibility.

  • No Time Constraints

Time is a thief they say, and one of the things it robs us of is the ability of fulfilling our dreams, if we are too focused on it. It’s important to allow our own process of growth and development all the time that it needs.

Saying things like ‘In two months I will feel more peaceful’ or ‘I’ll start feeling confident once this terrible period is over’ puts constraints on our ability to improve. What if it takes you longer to feel peaceful? What if takes you less time? What if the terrible period lasts far longer than you thought – does it mean you can’t feel confident?

Bonus thought: if we put a time constraint on our positive affirmation, our brain might think ‘cool, if it’s going to take us two months to feel peaceful, then I don’t need to do anything now’.

  • Use Deadlines Wisely

However, specific deadlines can be really powerful if connected to a time-sensitive action.

Apply deadlines to a precise and exact goal or action, like ‘On Monday, I will go to the gym’ or ‘By the end of this week I will have cleared out my closet’ or ‘I am going to improve on my presentation skills by the time of our conference’

  • Write It Down

Verba volant, scripta manent the Latins used to say. You might forget what you said today, but you won’t if you write it down. Use your favourite pen, get nice paper, try it in your best handwriting. Make an event out of your ‘you’ time, your self-belief time, your positive affirmations time. Create a routine that you can count on, and surround yourself with as much evidence of your growth as possible.

Bonus thought: When you’ve accomplished something, or discovered an opportunity that’s manifested itself because you believe it, move it to the Success Stories column and revel in your great work.

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