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17 - How to Use Affirmations Effectively


Self-affirmations are positive statements or self-scripts that can condition the subconscious mind to help you develop a more positive perception of yourself. Affirmations can help you to change harmful behaviors or accomplish goals, and they can also help undo the damage caused by negative scripts, those things which we repeatedly tell ourselves (or which others repeatedly tell us) that contribute to a negative self-perception. Affirmations are easy to create and use, but you'll need dedication to make them work.

Deciding on the Content of Your Affirmations

1- Think about your positive attributes.

We rarely focus on those things that we really like about ourselves, instead choosing to dwell on things we'd like to change. An inventory will help you break that cycle, and using these affirmations to help you appreciate who you are will give you the confidence you need to accept your affirmations of who you want to become.

  • Take stock of yourself by making an inventory of your best qualities, abilities, or other attributes: Are you gorgeous? Write it down. Are you a hard worker? Make note of it
  • Write each quality down in a short sentence, starting with "I" and using the present tense: "I am beautiful," for example, or "I am generous".

These statements are affirmations of who you are.

2 Think about what negative scripts you want to counteract or what positive goals you want to accomplish.

Affirmations can be extremely useful to counteract negative perceptions you have developed about your appearance, your abilities, or your potential (we'll refer to these types of affirmations as "counter-scripts"). Affirmations can also help you achieve specific goals, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. Make a list of your goals or the harmful self-perceptions you want to change.

Using Affirmations

3- Prioritize your list of things to work on.

You may find that you have a lot of goals or that you need many counter-scripts. It's best, however, to concentrate on just a few affirmations at a time, so choose those that are most important or most urgent and work with those first. Once you see improvement in those areas or accomplish those goals you can develop new affirmations for other items on your list. You can try using as many affirmations as you want at any given time, but you may want to start by using no more than five.

4- Write your affirmations.

In the initial step, you got plenty of practice writing affirmations based on your positive qualities in the present. You can use these alone as counter-scripts, or you can add other affirmations to influence your behavior in the future. The affirmations you will use to influence future changes should follow the same basic form as those you wrote earlier. Again, start with "I," and be short, clear, and positive. There are two kinds of future-oriented affirmations you can use to work toward goals:

  • "I can" statements: Write a statement affirming the fact that you can achieve your goal(s). For example, if you want to quit smoking, a statement such as "I can quit smoking," is a good start. Many experts recommend that you avoid any sort of negative connotation, so that you would instead say something like "I can free myself from smoking," or "I can become smoke-free."
  • "I will" statements: Write a statement affirming that today you will actually use your ability to achieve your goal. So, following the above example, you could say, "I will be smoke-free today," or "I will smoke fewer cigarettes today than yesterday." Again, the affirmation should use positive language and should simply express what you will do today to achieve the longer-term goal.

5- Match up some of your positive attributes with your goals.

Which of the positive qualities that you affirmed in the original step will help you achieve the goals you have set? If you're quitting smoking, for example, you may need willpower or courage, or you may need to reflect on the fact that you are beautiful or that you care about your family. Select two or three of these affirmations to support your goal-oriented affirmations

6- Make your affirmations visible so you can use them.

Repetition is the key to making affirmations effective. You want to think about your affirmations several times a day, every day. There are several ways to do this:

  • Journal: Make a point of writing your affirmations in a journal or diary each morning when you wake up and each night before you go to sleep. Repeat the affirmations to yourself at these times, as well. Ideally, your affirmations should be the first thing you think of when you wake up and the last before you go to sleep.
  • Meditate on your affirmations. Close your eyes, shut out the rest of the world, and think about your affirmations. Say and repeat the words, but think about what the words mean to you; think about the future and try to feel the emotions that the affirmations evoke.
  • Leave reminder cards in various places. Use 3X5 index cards or sticky notes to write your affirmations (one per card). Make several cards for each affirmation, and then leave these cards where you will see them: place one where you sit at the kitchen table, tape one to your car's steering wheel, slip one inside your desk drawer, or stick one to your computer monitor, etc. Each time you see the card, read it and think about what it means.
  • Carry your affirmations with you. Make a list of your affirmations and put it in your wallet or purse. If you need a pick-me-up, or if you find yourself about to waver from your goals, get out your affirmations and read them.

7- Continue using your affirmations.

The more you affirm something, the more firmly your mind will accept it. If you are trying to accomplish a short-term goal, use your affirmations until you have accomplished it. If you simply want to use affirmations as a counter-script, use each one as long as you like.


  • Affirmations can be used in combination with visualizations to increase the effectiveness of both. By visualizing your affirmations, you can make them more real in your mind. Include mental visualization using as many of your five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) as appropriate.
  • Attach positive emotions to your affirmations. Think about how achieving your goal will make you feel, or think about how good it feels to know that you are good at something. Emotion is a fuel which makes affirmations more powerful.
  • Ask friends to say a version of your affirmations to you. For example, "Maryanne, you are eating such healthy meals. You must feel great." Self-affirmations are valuable precisely because they free you from a reliance on the approval of others, but affirmations from others can be just as beneficial as negative scripts from others are harmful.
  • You might try changing a password to an affirmation. That way you'll use it often. Just be sure the password isn't to anything important.
  • If you find it difficult to believe an affirmation will materialize, add "I choose to" to the affirmation. "I choose to be at my healthy weight," for example, or, "I choose to maintain a healthy weight easily and effortlessly."
  • If you don't want people to know about your affirmations, just place your reminders in discreet locations. However, that it's important that you see them frequently, or they'll do you no good.


  • Don't let other people be your judge. Some people see the negatives all the time and have a tendency to say things to you such as: “I don't think you will cope". Don't let them weaken your spirit, don't listen to them.
  • Don't be discouraged if your affirmations don't seem to help at first. Instead, think about how you are using them. Do you really believe them? If you don't believe the affirmations, they can still be effective, but it will take longer. If you're tired of waiting, make sure your goals are attainable and set reasonable expectations for when you want to attain them. Use affirmations to counteract negative scripts or to accomplish small goals, and you will eventually develop the confidence to tackle bigger issues.
  • Affirmations are not a quick fix to all your problems. Do not expect a miracle, especially not overnight. It may have taken years for you to fully accept negative scripts in your self-image; it will take time to change how you feel about yourself, as well.
  • If you find yourself simply parroting the words of your affirmations, instead of concentrating on their meaning, change affirmations. You can still affirm the same goals or characteristics, of course, but rephrasing your affirmations can rejuvenate their effectiveness.

Original content in wikiHow

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