Notes on Affirmations

I wanted to take a few moments to break down and demystify affirmations. Each pair of our Intention Bloomers comes with a tag that holds an affirmation related to that color and natural dye stuff. The tag is a mere suggestion and it is my hope that you are inspired to personalize that one or to come up with one of your own. When you pull on your bloomers, you pull on that affirmation and are reminded throughout your day to repeat it. The power of affirmations really lies in repetition, so the more frequently you bring it to mind, the more it integrates with your subconscious beliefs. 

“I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.” - Muhammad Ali

What is an affirmation? 

“Affirmations are like prescriptions for certain aspects of yourself you want to change.”  -Jerry Frankhauser

Simply put, affirmations are positive phrases meant to send a message to an aspect of your subconscious which is in need of your attention.  Affirmations affirm positive beliefs about ourselves, and give us power to create enormous change from within. 

How does it work?

“There is MRI evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016). If you want to be super specific, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—involved in positive valuation and self-related information processing—becomes more active when we consider our personal values (Falk et al., 2015; Cascio et al., 2016).” (Catherine Moore)

When it feels forced and silly, it means it’s working!

“Isn’t it interesting? We can easily, and without embarrassment, bludgeon ourselves with negative affirmations… But saying nice things about ourselves is notoriously hard to do.” - Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

If you say an affirmation to yourself and then you notice that your inner critic pipes up and says, “Yeah, right! You’ve got peace in your heart like I’ve got an asshole on my elbow.” It means that you have an inner shadow blocking your way to what you are affirming (in this example - inner peace). This is a good thing! It means you have found the right affirmation to continue working with. If you stop and notice what your inner critic says, you will learn what your inner negative core beliefs are.  And as soon as you know those, you can likely pinpoint their source somewhere down the line. Most likely, it was never even about you. 

When the inner critic says, “You’ll never know peace. You’re too scattered… to unorganized… too___”, write down every negative core belief that arises. Over time, you will discover where that core belief originated.  And once you discover who or what was responsible for developing this belief in you, you will see that it is just a story that holds no power over you in the present. And as soon as you realize that, you also realize that you have the power to re-write your story with new positive beliefs - (cue your affirmation). 

“When we are able to deal with negative messages and replace them with positive statements, we can construct more adaptive, hopeful narratives about who we are and what we can accomplish.” (Moore)

What are the benefits?

Affirmations are not to be used as a substitute for treatment or medicine for illnesses including anxiety and depression. That being said, they can help immensely. Louise Hay popularized the idea that your thoughts can influence your physical health for the better.

And while they may not cure depression and anxiety, “the idea of affirmations as a means of introducing new and adaptive cognitive processes is very much the underlying premise of cognitive restructuring”(Moore).  Affirmations can promote a soothing and calming effect, especially when practiced in conjunction with meditation or mindfulness. 

And most certainly, they improve ones optimism as affirmations “have been shown to help with the tendency to linger on negative experiences (Wiesenfeld et al., 2001).” (Moore)

They can boost self-esteem, improve sleep, and lower stress levels. Of which I think we are all in need in today’s social media and information saturated world. 

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” - Louise Hay

Please also Catherine Moore’s article here to learn more about the science behind affirmations. At the end of the article, she offers lists of wonderful affirmations to work with and links to affirmation meditations on youtube.