I was introduced to daily affirmations at a time I was beginning to question some of the alternative healing practices that had gained popularity among large number of people. I was a recent graduate of a yoga teacher training program, and was dabbling into other offerings of the wellness world.
I had already tried and decided I wasn’t one for crystals. I didn’t quite get auras and chakras, and told myself that maybe I wasn’t ready for it. I come from a family of doctors, so that didn’t help the cause of pranic healing. Reiki was never on the table to begin with. I’ll admit – my perception of Reiki was made by aunties stuck with unloving husbands and ungrateful kids who’d find solace in energy healing. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t a good one.
A fellow yoga practitioner had got a certification in EFT tapping – Emotional Freedom Technique that involved tapping on specific points on the face and head to release trapped emotions. I was curious to try this, so I went for a session. After an hour of what I could only regard as a reluctant head message, I remained unconvinced about the plethora of alternative healing techniques.
I decided I didn’t want to bother exploring affirmations. It sounded ridiculous to have to repeat words to myself that I didn’t quite believe. My curiosity for affirmations piqued again recently when I came across an interview of New York Times bestselling author and lifestyle blogger Rachel Hollis, in which she talked about how she used daily affirmations to stay on the path of achieving success. When she was building her now wildly popular media company, she would write down her affirmations in her journal every day. Looking back, she says, she is now where she envisioned she’d be in the beginning stages of her career. She credits this to the daily affirmations that would rewire her every morning to her goals, and motivate her to do what she needed to do.
Like they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.
I am where Rachel Hollis was at the time she talks of. In the beginning stages of a website I envision will be wildly popular two years from now. A year from now. Curious to see if writing down my one-year goal every morning would rewire me towards my daily goals, I starting writing down daily affirmations in my journal every morning.
I have to say – it kind of worked.
Every morning, I would jot down the following words:
I AM the owner of a successful blog.
And every day, I would act in accordance with this mantra. Ah! That’s the secret soup. To put your affirmations in action! I already knew this, and the truth is – I was already working in accordance with my affirmation. But a week into it, something shifted.
Whereas earlier, if I would skip a day of publishing, I wouldn’t feel terrible about it. A week or so into my daily affirmations, I noticed that if I didn’t meet my daily goals, or if I gave in to excuses and insecurities, I’d feel horribly guilty. I’d feel like a derelict! The affirmations helped me own my website as my business. I found that interesting, and wanted to know more about the efficacy of daily affirmations.
So, here’s a deep dive into the world of affirmations.
What exactly are affirmations?
Affirmations are positive, present-tense, first-person statements we tell ourselves in order to shift the focus on our strengths and abilities. According to psychologists, affirmations can rewire our subconscious self-beliefs. So, when we say positive things about ourselves, with time and consistent practice, these statements can challenge and change the negative self-beliefs we may be holding on to at a subconscious level.
Are there different types of affirmations?
Yes. You can have affirmations that challenge negative self-image, or help you focus on your goals. For example, ‘I am capable of running a business’ challenges the negative self-image that you are incapable. However, ‘I am running a successful business’ can help you stay focused on the task at hand. Broadly, these are the two types.
But, the world of affirmations can be endless. You can have positive statements that make you feel attractive, statements that pep you up for an event, affirmations that help you forgive those who’ve hurt you, or those that can help you be patient with loved ones. In most cases, you are either challenging a negative self-belief or working on a goal, with daily affirmations.
How do you practice affirmations?
Do you have to have a ritual around it? Like a sage-cleanse of the room or something? Rosary? A mantra? Well, all of this is a personal choice. What’s important is that you do it consistently and give it some time. You can have a ritual that supports your affirmation practice, but they are just as effective (or not) without an accompanying custom.
Okay, but do affirmations work?
Turns out there is research that shows affirmations do indeed work, but NOT FOR EVERYONE! Meaning – affirmations are not a treatment for anxiety or depression, or a traumatic past that may be the cause of a negative self-image.
Affirmations seem to work better when they are goal-oriented. So, reminding yourself that you’re a confident, capable individual before a big meeting may help you more than saying this to yourself in the mirror every morning, and going back to an abusive partner.
To make affirmations work for you, you must act on them!
Affirmations can help you feel grounded, calm, and confident. But, unless you take action towards your goals, saying positive statements to yourself will not change anything. Don’t fall for the simplistic and misleading idea that saying something to yourself on repeat will make it happen!
I can keep telling myself ‘I am rich’ but unless I actually do something to earn money, I’m going to stay poor or become poor very quickly. But here’s what telling myself that ‘I’m rich’ everyday would to to me – It would make me feel awful about not being rich and I’d be compelled to work my ass off. So, in this case, no – the affirmation would not fill my bank account. I would.
That’s what it boils down to.
Affirmation work, yes. But through you, not for you.
I write. I read. I do yoga. I hula hoop. I love cats and dogs in equal measure. I'd say the same for wine. My zen motto: "Eat kale for the body, cake for the soul." Find me on IG: @prachigangwani87