Are Positive Affirmations Effective? Here's What Psychiatrists Have to Say




What are affirmations that are positive?


Have you ever convinced yourself that you are capable, brilliant, loved, worthy, or perfect just the way you are by looking in the mirror or closing your eyes?



Positive affirmations, which range from vision boards to self-talk in the mirror to quiet chants repeated during meditation, are a widely used therapy strategy.


While positive affirmations may have their origins in religious mantras such as those found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, they are essentially secular in modern American culture and have no religious connotation. Bestsellers like Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, as well as self-help gurus like Tony Robbins' books and seminars, have continued to promote positive affirmations as a practical tool for attaining the life you want.


Mental health and positive affirmations


Borst feels that the more we talk about mental wellbeing, the less stigma there will be, resulting in more individuals seeking treatment to enhance their own mental health. "It's great that we're embracing mental health as a society!" "I believe positive thinking is a vital aspect of total wellness," Borst says, adding, "and especially after this last year, we are just eager to feel wonderful."


For doubters, though, it sounds almost too wonderful to be true: repeat positive words and get what you want? We consulted with mental health professionals to learn the facts regarding whether or not positive affirmations are effective.


Is it possible that positive affirmations work?


Many mental health professionals feel that positive affirmations do have evident advantages, as well as scientific backing.


"There is a lot of evidence that supports the benefits of positive affirmations," adds Borst. "However, it depends on what outcomes one wishes for and what their baseline is." It works for some folks on occasion. For some folks, other things work better.


What science has to say


Optimism and self-affirmation were linked to a lower risk of cognitive impairment as well as a stronger positive effect—including coping, goal achievement, and improved health—among cancer survivors, according to a 2016 study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine.


Positive affirmations work, according to Peggy Fitzsimmons, a psychologist and author of Release: Create a Clutter-Free and Soul-Driven Life. "Our emotions, the energy we emit, and the actions we perform are all influenced by the thoughts we think. When we repeatedly affirm a concept, it becomes a belief "she explains.


Changing your perspective on the world


Many of us, according to Fitzsimmons, function on incorrect or outmoded beliefs, clinging to antiquated visions of ourselves or restricting worldviews.


"For example, if we hold beliefs like 'the world is not safe' or 'I have to work hard to gain affection,' we will experience emotions like dread, humiliation, and frustration," Fitzsimmons continues. "These energies have an impact on how we interact with others; for example, we may be prone to judging, competing, or loving on a conditional basis. As a result, what we affirm grows more powerful in us and has an impact on our reality "she explains.


(Affirmations made simple )


When are positive affirmations ineffective?


While Borst believes in positive affirmations, she also recognizes that they are not appropriate in all situations. "Positive affirmations may not assist if a person requires more intensive support for diseases such as anxiety or depression, or if they have an unexplored history of trauma," she explains.


Positive affirmations, according to Caroline Leaf, a communication pathologist, cognitive neuroscientist, and author of 101 Ways to be Less Stressed: Simple Self-Care Strategies to Boost Your Mind, Mood, and Mental Health, must be accompanied by other efforts if they are to be effective.


"Although the idea of speaking pleasantly until something good happens sounds appealing, just repeating anything positive will not result in long-term changes in the brain or body. It's not sustainable because it's unrelated to the underlying reason for your need for positive affirmation in the first place "she explains.



Positive affirmations and changes in mood and behavior. Positive affirmations are, at the end of the day, just about language and how it affects your attitude, according to Borst.


"I am a firm believer in language's power!" Borst explains. "My kids respond much better when I say, "Walk please!" rather than, "No running in the kitchen!" I believe we can all agree that it feels better when others speak to us in a pleasant manner, are genuine and kind, and complement us. When we converse to ourselves, we do the same thing "she explains.


Positive affirmations, according to Fitzsimmons, are beneficial because they provide us with a new perspective on ourselves and the world.


"Helpful feelings like joy and appreciation are created by positive affirmations like 'the world is a friendly place' or 'I am enough,'" Fitzsimmons writes, adding that these emotions convey energy like acceptance and peace, which impact the behaviors we take in relationships. (Here are some self-care items to help you relax when you need it.)


Affirmations that are positive and personality changes


Assume you're a bashful individual who shudders at the prospect of giving a speech in public. Or maybe you're a pessimist who constantly sees the glass as half-empty. Is it possible to modify your personality with positive affirmations if you wish to be more extroverted or optimistic?


Mary Jo Podgurski, a trained sexuality education and counseling therapist and author of Sex Ed is in Session, disagrees.


"Positive affirmations do not, and should not, change an innate personality," Podgurski says of the youngsters with whom she works. They can, however, influence a personality for the better, even if they cannot change it. "Positive affirmations provide hope and direction to a child. On a chilly day, they serve as a cloak. They improve sentiments of self-worth, in addition to consensual hugs "she explains.


Positive affirmations, according to Borst, function best when accompanied with other efforts to effect change. She clarifies, "Personality is a complicated subject, but I believe we have a tendency to identify ourselves and stick with it. Humans are creatures of habit, and this includes the ways we think and act."


Positive affirmation and vision boards


You're not alone if you enjoy building vision boards in late December or early January.


Fitzsimmons explains, "A vision board is a collection of words and images that describe how you wish to experience yourself in the world."


"It's a fun and artistic method to validate what your deepest heart wishes and put them front and center in your mind as the lens through which you approach life," she explains. "Vision boards help us stay focused and validate what we desire, which allows our lives to align with our goals."


Clinical hypnotherapist Jane Pernotto Ehrman, who is also certified in interactive guided imagery, feels that vision boards are most helpful when used in conjunction with affirmations. "It is ineffective in creating the change on its own. It's more effective to pair the vision board with positive affirmations for reaching your vision "she explains.


In therapy, positive affirmations are used.


While positive affirmations alone won't pull you out of a negative thought rut, they're a useful tool to use in conjunction with other techniques, according to Borst. "Our chats naturally flow towards the client selecting what works best for them, what feels authentic—even if it's difficult to practice at first—and we go from there," she says.


Positive affirmation examples


Affirmations, according to Ehrman, are a technique to bring about mind-body transformations. She suggests that you make affirmations by performing the following:


Short, positive statements should be used. Make affirmations in the present tense, such as "I do," "I am," "I enjoy," "I adore," and so on. Declare the transformation you want to see in yourself.


To reinforce change, type and print the affirmations and place them where you will see them.


Choose 1-2 affirmations to say and repeat for at least a week, then write them down 25 times a day. Then come up with some new affirmations.


The following statement, according to Ehrman, is essential: "The more I tell myself these truths, the more they become my natural way of living and being."


Fitzsimmons gives an example of a new year's positive proclamation.


"In the year 2021, I awaken to the truth of my soul. Rather than being a fearful agent, I see myself as a love agent. With light energy and a small footprint, I go around the world. I concentrate on the essentials. I have faith in my intuition. I let go of what no longer serves me "she explains.


Setting intentions is extremely important for Anne Redlich, an Illinois-based certified clinical social worker, and it doesn't have to happen at the start of the year.


"Set intentions instead of making resolutions," she suggests. "An intention is similar to a seed that you can plant within yourself and concentrate on on a regular basis. Something that has the ability to grow naturally within. And rather than being a goal to strive for, that might become a part of you."


Affirmations made simple


When can you expect to see results?


Positive affirmations need time and practice to work; expecting immediate benefits is impractical.


"Saying them numerous times a day, paying attention to the words and their meaning helps to strengthen the change in your behavior," says Ehrman, who suggests penning your affirmation for at least a week. "It's strong," she says, "and it helps you integrate this new way of thinking and being into your behavior."


When it comes to change, Fitzsimmons believes that putting in a few hours a day is critical.


"Our world shifts when we use a positive affirmation as a focal point. Take a few hours out of your day to dwell on an affirmation of thankfulness, such as 'I am grateful for everything.' As a result, you'll find yourself walking about with a smile on your face, appreciative and enthusiastic about anything comes your way "According to Fitzsimmons. "And since you're transmitting and receiving that kind of energy, nice things will tend to come your way."


Affirmations made simple


I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.