top of page

I'M GONNA KEEP IT REAL with You...Affirmations Don't Always Work!

There. I've said it. Affirmations don't always work. Some people say their ‘Affs’ (as I like to call them) are amazing and others say they don't work at all. So why is there so much research out there saying that they are brilliant? Well, it’s because they are brilliant. It sounds contradictory, I know. But picture this.

There you are sitting in a meeting, butterflies in your tummy, nerves and anxiousness are kicking in when you see staff members looking at you for the next comment.

All eyes are on you.

You feel as though you shouldn’t be there...that you don’t have the answers so you hesitate to add your contribution. All you can think is I wish I had stayed at home, cuddled up with the dog or snuggled under your fluffy duvet for cover.

Right there at that moment, you are affirming - I wish I had stayed at home - You’re telling yourself something over and over and because you think it and feel it - you accept it.

A few years ago, as a lover of ‘Affs’, I decided to do my own research. I wanted to see if there was any science behind it. I know they are effective; however I have found in the past that in my most challenging times, affirmations were really really hard to do by myself.

My mission was to discover what would make affirmations work better and work all the time.

Let’s Look at The Science

When you have your affirmations, if you don't completely believe in what you're trying to say it creates what is called cognitive dissonance.

Definition: Cognitive dissonance causes feelings of unease and tension, and people attempt to relieve this discomfort in different ways. Examples include “explaining things away” or rejecting new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs. [from google]

So you see, cognitive dissonance is really disempowering. It’s a hard habit to break and keeps us from progressing in our affirmation skills.

So it is important to make your affirmations or self-talk, positive!

Like Me, Most People Have The Same Question...Where Do I Start?

I discovered that thinking of my own affirmations is actually quite hard. Because you don't know where to begin. And you may have too many things that you want to affirm.

There are many ways to write personal affirmations and one of the things I shared at the Female Wellness Retreat in Turkey, was how to start.

General affirmations are great to get you started or if you are not sure what you want to affirm. But don’t make personal affirmation too general. They pack a punch when you make them super-specific. Here is what I mean.

When I was a senior leader in education we were trained to give specific feedback. This is about identifying something a learner did well and making it really significant. Research shows there will be much more impact on a person when praise or something is an exact example.

Your affirmation will have much more resonance if it’s specific. Think about when giving feedback to someone, it’s not helpful if it is vague, it’s much more meaningful to say exactly what they did that was good and worked well.