Words like “manifestation” and “positive affirmation” pop up in self-help books and on TikTok all the time. But what actually are positive affirmations? Do they really work?
We’ve got a breakdown of what positive affirmations are, how to use them, and some thoughts from the scientific studies behind them.
Understanding Positive Affirmations and Their Benefits
So what are positive affirmations? What do they look like in practice? Is there science to back the practice up?
Positive affirmations are phrases or sentences you say to remind yourself of your worth. You say them in the present tense. Instead of “one day, I will be great,” you say “I am great.” Choosing the present tense helps us focus on the now. When we say something positive, we speak it into existence. We strive to make that statement true.
So while positive affirmation may sound like just another manifestation buzzword, there’s actually empirical research on the subject.
David K. Sherman and Geoffrey L. Cohen’s paper on The Psychology of Self-Defense: Self-Affirmation Theory defines the function of self-affirmation theory as “the overall goal of the self-system is to protect an image of its self-integrity, of its moral and adaptive adequacy. When this image of self-integrity is threatened, people respond in such a way as to restore self-worth.”
According to the self-affirmation theory, people’s instinct is to restore their self-image when threatened. Even if the threat is our own doubts, by engaging in positive affirmations, we can restore the integrity of our self-perception.
Positive Affirmations for Women
As women, we have to do twice as much to get half the recognition. It can feel overwhelming to meet the impossible expectation of “having it all:” a job, an organized household, happy kids, a hot meal on the table by 6. Not to mention the unending societal pressure to have kids even if you don’t want them.
If we actively choose not to participate in the institution of a nuclear family, societal scrutiny increases. No matter what you choose, you can’t win.
Here are some positive affirmations for women about letting go of unrealistic expectations and choosing instead to build lives designed to make us happy.
- I am in charge of my destiny. No one can determine the direction of my future but me.
- I have accomplished so much. And I have the power to continue making my dreams come true.
- I am powerful. I am strong. I am smart.
- I am letting go of society’s expectations. I’m living my life for me.
- I don’t care what people think of me. My life belongs to me.
- I deserve to take risks on myself. I will rely on my skills to pull me through challenges.
- I deserve to be fairly compensated at work. I deserve to be respected by my colleagues.
- I am a wonderful mother.
- I am a whole person without children.
- I deserve a life that makes me happy, not one that makes the people around me happy.
Positive Affirmations for Anxiety
People living with anxiety will commonly engage in negative self-talk. Their insecurities can get the best of them, and they have difficulty breaking the cycle of self-deprecating thought patterns. Focusing on positive affirmations can bring back positive energy, which can help quiet anxious thoughts.
Here are some positive affirmations for those who struggle with anxiety.
- My anxiety does not define me. I am much more than someone with anxiety.
- I am stronger than the anxious voices in my head.
- I have the power to overcome my negative thoughts.
- People love me and I am worthy of that love.
- I am not a burden to the people around me.
- I am brave enough to try things outside of my comfort zone.
- I deserve to treat myself with kindness.
- I am worth loving and knowing.
- I am stronger than my fears.
Engaging in the practice of positive affirmations every day can lead to positive changes in your life. If you spend time telling yourself you can accomplish your goals, you increase your confidence, and that will increase your resilience and willingness to take risks. Even if you fail, your positive thoughts will inspire you to get back up again to try once more.
So here are some great daily affirmations to tell yourself at least once a day. Each of these comes from a well-known, successful individual, which might inspire you even more.
- “Am I good enough? Yes I am.” – Michelle Obama, Becoming
- “I am in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.” – Louise Hay
- “You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing.” – Ram Dass, Be Love Now
- “The chance to love and be loved exists no matter where you are.” – Oprah, O, the Oprah Magazine
- “Your perspective is unique. It’s important and it counts.” – Glenn Close
- “Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.” – Maya Angelou
- “Your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny.” – Toni Morrison
Using Positive Affirmations in Your Daily Life
Can you think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from having more positive thoughts? Positive self-talk helps us feel good about ourselves and reframe our thinking from fragile to resilient. Give this manifestation technique a try and you might be surprised by how much positive affirmations can change your perspective.
Author, Artist, Photographer.
Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.
She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.
She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.