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  • Sunday Sanctuary

Do Affirmations Really Work?

On a list of the wellbeing mumbo-jumbo universe, affirmations can be found on the top ten every single time. A source of strength and assurance for some, or a motto to turn your nose up at for others, we explore what affirmations are, and whether they really work.

An affirmation is, at its core, a positive statement about yourself. The statement is intended to imbue you with the power of your positive thoughts, and change your mindset so that you not only think or say the affirmation, but you become it. The purpose of affirmations is to generate a belief in your own ability, shifting the focus away from your perceived shortcomings and onto positive aspects of who you are or who you want to become.

We've all dabbled in affirmations, either consciously or subconsciously; whether it's mumbling 'I can do this' before a presentation, or having a go-to mantra to start each day. The power of thought is nothing to be sniffed at, but whether or not affirmations can truly shift our character is another question altogether. So are positive statements about the self truly transformational, or are they just a load of nonsense?

Neuroplasticity & Imagination

Neuroplasticity is a term used to describe our brain's ability to adapt thought patterns to different circumstances in response to our experiences. In other words, it's the ability to re-wire our brain. When it comes to self-perspective, our mind's capacity for adaptation is first measured in a psychological 'safe space', otherwise known as our imagination. Our unique ability to picture situations that haven't happened yet, and play through both positive and negative scenarios better prepares us for similar circumstances in future as we imagine ourselves doing something novel over and over again.

When it comes to affirmations, telling yourself that you'll behave in a certain way; whether its confident for an interview, charming on a date, or content on a day out, you're training your brain to adapt to foreseeable circumstances with an emotional response that you've tried out and chosen. It's a bit like the saying fake it 'til you make it, except affirmations seek to draw out characteristics that already exist within you. Making yourself aware of your own strength, power, and confidence can go a long way to realising it outside of your mind.


All that being said, thinking something doesn't just make a desired outcome fall into your lap. If you're unprepared for an interview, no amount of confidence will make it go well, and if you don't listen on a date you might end up coming across arrogant.

If you want to envision yourself some kinda way, you have to pair actions with thoughts. Affirmations exist to draw out what's already within you; but there are also things that need to be nurtured IRL for things to come together the way you want them to.

Final Note

Affirmations are a great way to start the day. Just like a cup of coffee, they can form the basis of a pick-me-up each morning that put your brain into gear. Telling yourself you'll have a great day won't necessarily mean you do, repeating it will put you in a better headspace to navigate ups and downs, and make better choices that contribute to the kind of day you imagined. Affirmations are a reflection of the power of your own mind, and go hand in hand with actions that make sure you're always aspiring to be your best self.


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