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Do Positive Affirmations Work?

YES! Positive AffirmationsI once was a naysayer of positive affirmations. When I tried telling myself, “I am prosperous,” an inner (and highly sarcastic) voice, would say, “Yeah? Since when?” However, at a particularly low point in my life, during a tremendous amount of stress and upheaval, I thought — what do I have to lose by saying positive affirmations on a daily basis? It’s not like affirmations will give me cavities or calories, right?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the shift occurred in my brain; when the positive affirmations were no longer a “joke” I told myself each morning. For a while, a friend and I would laugh about ending our daily affirmations with “I am delusional.” (I am happy, I am successful, AND I am delusional.) But a month or two into the affirmations, my inner snark got softer. I made adjustments to my affirmations so that I was making statements that didn’t feel too farfetched or unrealistic. While I was repeating my affirmations, I visualized the end result… a place in which I felt more peace, more confidence, more optimism.

Reminding myself to smile while saying affirmations was helpful, too. When you smile, you may be surprised to find yourself realizing you’ve got something to smile about. It’s pretty cool to influence your mind that way.

Affirmations may not have made me rich or totally freakin’ awesome. (Hey, who can be awesome ALL the time?) But they did lead me to see the riches I already have all around me. If more gratitude is all I ever receive from affirmations, well… I’m thankful.

For me, the most positive affirmations are the ones that lead to positive action. In the morning, try saying, “Today I am going to ________ because I care about myself.” Then go ahead and do it.

Positive affirmations can remind us of what is most important to us and keep us focused on our personal goals. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Research is out that positive affirmations can make a positive difference…

Research on Positive Affirmations

According to a 2013 study by Carnegie Mellon University, we can boost our problem-solving abilities under stress by using positive affirmations.

Most of us have experienced the negative impact of stress. When stressed and overwhelmed, we can lose our ability to think clearly and thoroughly. However, the Carnegie Mellon study offers evidence that positive affirmations can protect us against the damaging effects of stress on our problem-solving performance.

An emerging set of published studies suggest that a brief self-affirmation activity at the beginning of a school term can boost academic grade-point averages in underperforming kids at the end of the semester. This new work suggests a mechanism for these studies, showing self-affirmation effects on actual problem-solving performance under pressure. ~ said David Creswell, team leader of the study and assistant professor of psychology

As part of the study, all participants had to complete a set of challenging tasks under deadline. The tasks required creativity and problem-solving. Study results showed that participants suffering from high levels of chronic stress had highly impaired problem-solving performance. In fact, they solved approximately 50% fewer tasks. However, chronically stressed participants who were given a self-affirmation activity beforehand performed as well as those in a non-stressed state.

People under high stress can foster better problem-solving simply by taking a moment beforehand to think about something that is important to them. It’s an easy-to-use and portable strategy you can roll out before you enter that high pressure performance situation. ~ David Cresswell

This is an exciting step forward for research on positive affirmations.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University

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