Words do not simply represent our form of communication, they actually help us make sense of the world around us. There probably isn’t another item as powerful as words are, especially for our minds. From the moment we are born, we learn to address to things we see with their names; things we perceive with adjectives; things we do with verbs. Thus, it is extremely important to make the best use out of words, especially when we speak to and about other people, or to and about ourselves.
I believe we all share a childhood memory of some teacher or family member telling us we weren’t good at something. And I also believe the majority of us didn’t actually turn out to be good at that specific task, right? This is one of the ways words can influence our own perceptions of ourselves. Listening to someone repeatedly saying that “we’re not good at sports”, can have a detrimental effect on our perception of ourselves, telling our brain and our body that we really aren’t good at sports, until we happen to act like it is true. Other examples include the way we speak about ourselves. Modesty is indeed a virtue, but it doesn’t have to limit our own capacities. Too often we tell ourselves that we “are not going to make it”, or that we “will never be enough”, and even when this voice seems feeble and low, it still has a profound effect on our mind. The good news is, it can be turned around to have the opposite effect on you, in the same powerful way! This is the core fundament of how affirmations work.
Positive affirmations are statements made about and to yourself, statements that can function as a meaningful tool to eliminate or reduce self-sabotaging tendencies and negative thoughts that you may have picked up and that you believe about yourself.
We are all very much affected by the way people speak about and to us, even if we try not to be. In the same way, our minds are very much influenced by the way we speak to ourselves. Affirmations can have profound effects on our subconscious mind, to the point of being able to reprogram our thinking pattern towards a more positive one. The key to affirmations is repetition. In order for the statements to penetrate into your subconscious, you must repeat it, whether out loud or in your mind, for several times. I know it may feel strange and uncomfortable at first, but this is really one of those “fake it ‘till you make it” kind of things. The more you repeat it, the faster you accept it, and the better it works. Affirmations can shape your mood for the entire day, and direct you towards your goals. They can be used any time of day and about any situation you’d like to see some change in, but it’s useful to know how to maximize their effect depending on the time of day you’re repeating them.
Affirmations in the morning
Mornings represent new beginnings, the window to a new day that is starting. What we do first thing in the morning has a strong influence on what we will experience throughout the day, setting the mood we will be in for the next hours. Repeating affirmations in the morning can thus be very beneficial and have a powerful effect on our minds. Most research suggests starting moments after opening our eyes. For beginners, it can be useful to write down the affirmations you want to work on the night before, and to read them before starting with your day. For example, if your goal is to stress less about things during the day, you could repeat to yourself an affirmation like:
I react from a positive mindset.
I live my day with calm and contentment.
Affirmations work best when presented in a positive form, without using words that suggest some limitations or negative forms, like “don’t” or “no”. In order to be more relaxed when you repeat your positive statements, sit or lay down and take some deep breaths, which will induce your mind to an open state. Another great way to work with affirmations in the morning is by repeating them, either out loud or in your head, while you get ready. This can be extremely useful when working with self-confidence, and you can perform your affirmations in front of a mirror.
I do this especially on mornings when I feel bad about my appearance or my accomplishments: I stand in front of my mirror, getting ready, brushing my hair or my teeth, and I repeat in my head positive affirmations about myself. “I am worthy of love”, or “I radiate confidence”, until I actually believe my own words and start to act like they are true. This puts me in a great mood for the entire day ahead. Your body takes some time to fully wake up in the morning, and your mind isn’t any different. That drifting space between sleep and wake is the one you want to work on, because the affirmations will sink better into your subconscious, and will have the most beneficial effects.
Affirmations during the day
You can’t really go wrong with affirmations, and the more you repeat yourself something you want to believe, the quicker your mind will accept it. Repeating the morning affirmations throughout the day will reinforce the positive ideas behind them, helping you achieving your goals more effectively. Find yourself a quiet space during your day, whether at lunch break or after work, or at any time you have the chance to, and repeat the statements you started with in the morning. This action has the benefit of reinforcing the effect of the affirmations in your mind, but it might not be as powerful to start with, because our mind is naturally more active and drawn towards mundane tasks at this time of day.
However, there are just about no side effects to affirming positive things to yourself, and also you might find that this time actually suits you better. So, don’t worry if you haven’t started in the morning, the affirmations you repeat yourself in the afternoon will still have that beneficial effect.
Affirmations before bedtime
If affirmations in the morning help set the intentions for the day ahead and increase your energy and happiness, affirmations before bedtime can be amazingly beneficial to induce a restful and relaxed sleep. Most often than not, we carry the pressures of the day to bed with ourselves, and this can be detrimental to get a restful sleep. On worst days, we can even feel as if there was no way of sleeping peacefully because we keep ruminating about something wrong we said or did during the day, or because we worry about the future. Repeating positive affirmations before bedtime will help your mind to relax and to get ready for a blissful sleep.
As Dalai Lama said, “sleeping is the best meditation”, and who are we not to believe his words? There’s another plus to affirmations before bedtime and that is, that when we drift into sleep our conscious mind will deactivate in favour of the subconscious. So, whatever information you put in before or while sleeping, will impact the deeper layers of your mind, i.e., the ones where our most rooted negative impressions about ourselves are found. One way I work with positive affirmations in the night, is by listening to a recording of guided meditations that I can fall asleep to. This way, while you rest peacefully, your subconscious mind will register all the affirmations and work them out during the night. If you want to work on some specific aspect of your life that you want to change, you can record yourself repeating the affirmations, and listen to the recording until you feel calm and collected and ready to sleep. Listening to affirmations while you sleep has the same potential of hypnosis: it can transform your life in powerful and effective ways, without having to put in some conscious effort.
In order to transform our lives, we have to transform our minds first, and affirmations represent a great way to achieve this goal. Affirmations should be repeated for at least five minutes in the morning or during the day, and the longer, the better. There are many meditations that can be found online which include affirmations to repeat, but as with any relaxing practice, I suggest you find your own way. It can be hard to identify the specific aspects of your life you want to change, but you will get there! Affirmations can erase negative thoughts with time: it can take a week for some thoughts, but months and years for others, especially the ones that have been attached to our subconscious for longer. Keep being faithful and you will experience the power of this practice, enjoying all the benefits that come with it!
Paola Perillo is a young old soul based in Rome, passionate about relaxation, meditation, reiki and crystals. She graduated in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Brighton, where she learned to integrate the psychological and the spiritual. Paola is currently working as content writer for different sources.