This week I posted on the Authentically You Counseling and Wellness Facebook page about developing a mantra or positive affirmation to help you with something you are struggling with in your life. Some people believe that positive affirmations do not work and find them kind of silly. Here is a little bit of science behind how they work and why they might not have worked for you in the past
There is a system in our brain called Reticular Activating System (RAS). This system helps to filter out what is and is not important to us. Say, for example, you have walked down a street plenty of times when you were not hungry. You have never noticed any good restaurants. One day you get out of work late and are hungry. All of a sudden you notice a ton of restaurants that you had never noticed before. This is because your brain is saying that food is important.
This is how positive affirmations work. Your brain begins to notice things you did not notice before because you are making that affirmation important. So say that your affirmation is to be nice to yourself about your body. You may say 5-6 comments a day that are negative about your body but not even realize it. Once the affirmation is placed you begin to recognize that you are being negative and can work to change it.
So why haven’t positive affirmations worked for you in the past? Positive affirmations usually involve something you want to change in your life. This means what you are saying during your affirmation is not technically true at the time. For many people this can cause an uncomfortable feeling. They then abandon the mantra and move on believing that it did not work. It is suggested to spend at least 21 consecutive days saying your positive affirmation in order to see the benefits.
Here are a few of my favorite affirmations:
- I love and approve of myself
- I trust myself
- I matter and what I have to offer this world also matters
- I forgive myself