What is an Affirmation?
An affirmation is a sentence or phrase that you repeat to yourself to set an intention for the things, feelings, or experiences that you want to have more of in your life. We tend to pay attention to the things that matter to us, and ignore the things that don’t. When you create an affirmation, you are being really clear about what matters to you, and, in turn, begin to focus on those things more frequently. Working with an affirmation is a really powerful and simply way to bring clarity and focus to the changes we want to making in our lives.
How to Write an Affirmation
Think about what you would really like to change about yourself and your life. Think about not only the things that you want, but also the experiences you would like to have, and the way you would like to feel about them. Think about positive attributes and the things that are already working well for you. Think about the things you like about yourself and the things that you are already grateful for. Don’t worry about how you will achieve these things. This is different from goal setting. Often, the feelings we want to achieve do not come by the plans we have in mind.
- What thinking patterns or perceptions would you like to change or maintain?
- What circumstances would you like to improve or transform?
- What experiences would you like to have or re-live?
- What feelings would you like to enjoy?
- What do you want your life to be like?
Begin your affirmations with phrases that affirm the feeling of already having what you desire. Close your eyes and imagine that you are already experiencing the wonderful things that you desire, and write your affirmations as an expression of having, rather than wanting or needing.
- “I am…”
- “I know…”
- “I have…”
- “I love…”
- “I choose…”
- “I am so happy and grateful that…”
How to Use your Affirmation
Using an affirmation forces your brain to begin noticing ways it can achieve the intention you set for yourself. It also creates tension between your current reality and the affirmation you state to be true, and you eventually begin to make the changes needed to make your affirmation accurate.
You can use your affirmation anytime you want to see a positive change happen. For example, you can focus on your affirmation when you want to raise your confidence level, control negative thoughts or feelings, improve self-esteem, or increase your productivity.
Remember that affirmations work best when they are visible and remain on the forefront of your mind:
- Create a piece of artwork about your affirmation, and include the written statement
- Hang your artwork in a place where you will see it daily or multiple times a day.
- Take a picture of the painting and use it as the background on your cell phone or computer
- Pause in front of your painting, and say your affirmation out loud.
- Print 4×6 or wallet-sized copies of your painting at your local drugstore.
- post on your bulletin board by your desk
- tape it to your bathroom mirror
- keep a copy in your wallet
- tape it next to the kitchen sink or refrigerator
- Think about your affirmation (and visualize it coming true) before you go to sleep
- Write it on your arm or the back of your hand
- Write it on a piece of paper and use it as a bookmark
Popular wisdom holds that it takes about 21 days for behavioral changes to be made and become a habit, so plan to actively use your affirmation for about three weeks before noticing shifts in your life.
Kara Ashley-Gilmore is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, Art Therapist, and mixed-media artist at Mountain Creative Arts Counseling. She provides counseling to adolescents and adults who feel crushed by the weight of their anxieties, and want to live more present lives. She often incorporates the creative process into therapy sessions with clients, helping them access their creativity, and use it for their own growth and healing.