How to Make Affirmations Work For You



Affirmations are positive statements that challenge negative, self-sabotaging, or unhelpful thoughts. Repeating them over time rewires the brain and can help transform your life. However, they can be hard to master—especially if you’re used to negative thinking patterns or have a low level of self-confidence.

If you’re not familiar with affirmations, or if you’ve tried them and found them to be ineffective, the Cleveland Clinic suggests a few ways you can make them work for you: Write them on notecards and place them where you will see them (such as on your nightstand or your desk); set reminders in your phone’s calendar or other apps to repeat them at the same times each day; and use an app that reads them aloud so you can listen while going about your day.

You can also come up with your own affirmations that are more personal to you. This may require more creative energy, but can be more effective as the affirmations are more closely in tune with your current situation and goals. Affirmations are most useful when they’re specifically geared towards the type of change you want to make in your life, such as controlling negative thought patterns, increasing confidence, or boosting your sense of self-worth.

One randomized controlled study found that children who repeated an affirmation based on their core values performed better on a word-association problem-solving task than control participants who did not repeat the affirmation. This finding suggests that affirmations can have real-world benefits, helping kids remove the opportunity for negativity to set in during challenging tasks.

Another study found that the simple act of writing down an affirmation helps reinforce it. This process activates neural circuits involved in memory and learning, making the affirmation more likely to become a reality. The authors suggest that this is because the affirmation is a physical action rather than just a mental repetition, and because it provides a more concrete experience for the brain to recall and learn from.

In addition to writing affirmations, you can also practice them verbally and in meditation. If you’re comfortable with speaking them, try saying them out loud to yourself throughout the day, or committing them to memory and then repeating them in meditation. This can also help to calm the mind and relax the body before bed.

Affirmations can be particularly helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed by negative feelings such as anxiety, fear, frustration, or insecurity. But they can also be used to encourage neuroplastic changes in the brain when you’re trying to improve a specific behavior, such as developing new healthy habits or improving your work performance. It’s important to remember, however, that just believing something doesn’t make it true—it’s the action of repeatedly practicing a behavior that creates change in the brain. So be patient, and keep trying. You can do it! The more you do it, the more likely it is that positive change will be permanent. Then, you’ll never have to deal with those pesky negative feelings again.