Do self-affirmations really work?
November 11 2021 11:40 PM
Reem Abdulrahman  Jassim al-Muftah
Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah

By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim Al-Muftah

We’ve all seen the videos of parents recording their kids getting ready in the morning during the catchy trend that was all over social media a few years ago…yes, you guessed it, self-affirmations! For some it is extremely weird to even think about looking at themselves in the mirror for more than a few seconds and to talk to the mirror image and tell themselves how amazing they are is even stranger! Self-help books have been promoting this strategy to those who feel they need help such as being lost, depressed or anxious. Apparently, there is a power behind positive affirmations, and they can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Initially it seems like a very awkward idea but according to research, it can do wonders.

To start, let’s define positive affirmations as positive phrases or statements used to “challenge negative and unhelpful thoughts.” These types of affirmations are usually used to better self-esteem and self-confidence, motivate, encourage and in general, to improve oneself, especially if there is a habit of negative self-talk. Simple, but positive statements reinforcing positivity help one focus on their strengths or areas for improvement, positive vibes and to shift focus away from the negative and towards the positive. Repeating these types of statements are associated with shifting one’s mindset and helping them realize their goals. Do they really work? Is there proof? Yes, there are several theories, neuroscience, and data that confirm self-affirmations can be beneficial:

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt to different situations or context. When one imagines themselves doing something, the brain activates many of the areas that actually would activate in the brain if going through that experience. To make it simpler, the brain can trick itself and turn imagination into reality. Therefore, repeating and re-affirming statements can possibly trick the brain too. “When you believe you can do something, your actions will follow.”

Self-affirmation theory is the psychological theory that supports positive affirmations. The studies show that “humans can maintain a sense of self-integrity through affirming what they believe in positive ways” and that “humans have the ability to view different aspects of themselves as being positive and can then adapt to different situations better.”

MRI evidence also shows that specific neural pathways in the brain increase when humans practice self-affirmation.

In conclusion, there is truth behind positive self-affirmation, but they are not a guaranteed power and do not work for everyone. Self-affirmations should be used as a tool in the ongoing journey of self-care, self-love, and self-improvement. It is also critical to note that more exaggerated affirmations such as “I love myself more every day” and “I am beautiful” might not work as well because these issues might be more deeply rooted than expected, most commonly in terms of very low self-esteem and self-confidence. Consequentially, it is recommended to use more neutral or specific statements such as ‘I am kind to myself’ and ‘I love my smile’ instead.


Below is a list of other common and more neutral self-affirmations:

1. I choose to be happy.

2. I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends and family.

3. I am in charge of my life and my decisions.

4. I am strong and I cannot be destroyed.

5. I love who I am becoming.

6. I appreciate what my body does for me each day.

7. I take care of myself and know I deserve the best.

8. I keep myself in good health with exercise and healthy food.

9. Nobody but me knows and decides how I feel.

10. I have the skills and experience for this job and I am great at it.

11. I have a great job and I know I am making a difference.

12. Whenever I fall, I get back up.


Want to give it a try?

1. Start with only 3 to 5 minutes, twice a day and complete your affirmations as soon as you wake up and are in bed.

2. Repeat each affirmation 10 times and really listen to yourself, focusing on the words as they leave your mouth, believing them to be true.

3. Do your best to stay consistent and be patient.


* The author is the wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.

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