What are positive affirmations?
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s put out a basic definition of what a positive affirmation actually is! A positive affirmation is a reminder to our heart, mind and body that optimism IS the natural state of being. In a world filled with cynicism and negativity it can be very easy to forget that each day is a blessing- even if it the whole blessing part seems rather heavily disguised. Pop culture, the news and sometimes even people around us are a constant reminder of the fact the world can be a dangerous and scary place, but positive affirmations help us to create an equilibrium of positive and negative aspects of life.
Instilling positive affirmations into our lives is not as easy as it may seem on the outside, we evolved to mentally emphasize the dangerous things surrounding us. Think back to your cave men ancestors who were living constantly with the risk of being eaten or not having enough to eat. To survive our ancestors had to learn to detect and prevent danger at all times like most animals. Us humans have psychologically held onto this tendency to worry about dangerous things even though for many of us there is no longer such an urgent need to watch our backs a majority of the time.
Positive affirmations are basically verbal, mental or even physical reminders that life is inherently good, and that we can let go of our cave men tendencies. With positive affirmation we remember the fact that the values surrounding our life and we have reason to hope.
How do positive affirmations work?
Positive affirmations basically work by re-training our brain that we aren’t in imminent danger all of the time. When our brain is acting like it is being chased by a bear or worried about paying student loans, it sees these things as psychological threats. A psychological threat is when the body and mind reacts to an environmental challenge that threatens the integrity and happiness our lives or self, and it is all encompassing to our being when we are reacting in a stressed out manner to minor and/or major problems.
When we are focused on a psychological threat we get captured into living in response to that threat, so that we spend a lot of time fighting against these instincts with self defenses. Instead of thinking about the big picture, we’re focused on what ever happens to be stressing us out at the time whether it be our job, hair, weight or kids. We all have different ways of expressing self defense, but ultimately the energy we spend on defenses limits the energy we can spend on personal growth.
This is when positive affirmations come in.
By using a positive affirmation we show the brain that we are not, in fact, being chased by a bear or something else life-threatening, but we are instead just dealing with smaller issues that do not damage our inner essence. These affirmations work in three major ways:
1. They give us time to put the threat into the big picture of things. For example, we may worry about our weight, but in the larger context of the world that is really a small problem, or a first world problem as the kids would put it these days.
2. Positive affirmation rebuild our knowledge of the values we live by. They remind us of all the good things we do and want to do, so that we continue enriching these admirable traits.
3. Eventually, positive affirmations teach us how to approach minor problems, like weight gain, with a level head. Rather than being overwhelmed by the problem, we can spend the time addressing it.
Why do we NEED positive affirmations?
When we are stuck living our life from self defense to self defense, we can not work finding the overall positive arch of our life. Instead of being behind the driving wheel of the direction of our lives, we are letting our fears drive us. I think it is safe to say that is something no one wants.
Once you finally believe in these positive affirmations, you can start focusing on in the grand scheme of what you want to do with your life. What is better, once you start taking the steps to improve your life you create a positive feedback loops, because all of a sudden the values stated in the positive affirmation become more present in your life make it easier and easier to have the energy to continue on your positive journey through this life.