Do affirmations really work? Or are they just woo-woo noise that’s best left ignored?
I was curious to find out too..
Let’s start with, what are affirmations?
‘The words “I AM” are powerful. We are declaring to the universe who we are’ -Ora Nadrich
I am beautiful. I am more than enough. I am the center of joy and happiness.
These small declarations have the power to make massive transitions in your life. This power is not derived from woo-doo (I thought so before too). But, there is actually neuroscience behind this concept.
Science Behind Affirmations
Affirmations are designed to transform your inner world and create an aligned external world from that place of worthiness. They have the power to change and heal your life.
Following are the rationales behind how affirmations work:
1.The power of thought
From a neuroscientific standpoint, imagining an action and doing it require the same motor and sensory programs in the brain. Imagination and action are integrated and engage the same neural pathways. In effect, practicing one actually influences the other. A fascinating research group conducted an experiment wherein two groups were given piano lessons. One group was allowed to practice the piano. In contrast, the other group was merely asked to listen and imagine practicing in their head without touching a piano. After 3 days of piano lessons, their accuracy in playing the piano was precisely the same. After 5 days, obviously, the first group played the piano better since they employed action. But this demonstrates the power of thought. Beyond just thought, we need to take appropriate action, of course, to create a lasting impact. Alas, we cannot think that we are Shakespeare and magically become the king of literature. But our thoughts do have some power over our behavior and capabilities.
2. Reward Centres
Some researchers used MRI to understand the effect of self-affirmations. They found that practicing self-affirmations activates the reward centers- Ventral Striatum (VS) and Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex (VMPFC) in the brain. The reward centers are basically the same areas that respond to other pleasurable experiences, such as eating your favorite dish or winning a prize. So, practicing affirmations help activate those areas of the brain that make you happy and joyful, which in turn dampen pain and assist us in maintaining our inner balance.
3. Subconscious mind affects your behavior
Our minds often face some trouble to differentiate between what is reality and what is imagination. As a result, the thoughts we feed into our psyche affect our thinking patterns, behavior, habits, and environment. Creating a mental image of yourself excelling at something activates many of the same brain areas triggered while experiencing a similar situation. On average, 45000–51000 thoughts cross our minds daily. That is 150 to 300 thoughts per minute. Unfortunately, for most of us, 80% of these thoughts are negative. These negative thoughts create a self-fulfilling prophecy that dominates our behavior and habits. Practicing positive affirmations helps in sweeping this negative aura from our minds.
How to make affirmations work?
Affirmations have helped hundreds of people make meaningful changes in their lives. But they don’t always seem to work for everyone. How can one tool be so effective for some people while ineffective for others?
There are both positive and negative affirmations.
Negative affirmations are unwholesome statements that stay in our subconscious minds, reinforcing them throughout our lives. These negative affirmations inculcate the fear of failure. We picture an exaggerated image of the consequences of failure, which prevents us from trying to change. We avoid opportunities for success and re-confirm that negative affirmation.
Here are some ways we can banish negative affirmations and practice positive affirmations to our benefit:
a. Identify your negative beliefs, all your qualities which you thought are not good enough or which you were made to believe are not good enough. Write them down. Connect with your body while you’re writing these down. Notice which part of your body is holding this belief. Is there a tightness in your heart or dread in your stomach?
b. Now write an objective statement of truth or a positive affirmation against those negative beliefs. Use powerful words in the present tense. For example, Love is flowing to me, and through me at all times, I am a magnet for success and prosperity, etc.
c. Speak the affirmations to yourself for about 2 minutes at least three times a day.
d. Sync it up with your breathing. While affirming, breathe in and with every inhalation believe that the affirmations are true.
e. If it still doesn’t sound believable, ask a coach or a friend to read out your affirmations to you.
Understand that affirmations are nothing but positivity pills that sprinkle positivity in your conscious and subconscious mind. Repeated practice of these positive declarations psychs the brain into believing that they are valid, and our behavior and habits change accordingly.
Originally published at https://www.beingmeraklis.com on December 9, 2020.