Alison Ralph

What are affirmations and how can they help your mental health?

Written By Alison Ralph                               April 2022

Ever wondered what all the hype is about affirmations, how they can help your mental health and why they are often used within hypnotherapy sessions? This blog post, written by Alison Ralph, Macclesfield based hypnotherapist, aims to teach you:

  • What an affirmation is
  • How affirmations work in the brain
  • How you should be using affirmations for the best outcome
  • How to decide which affirmations could be good for you
  • Why they are often used within hypnotherapy sessions
  • Example affirmations for anxiety
  • Example affirmations for stopping smoking
Demonstrate thinking positive

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a sentence or phrase that has been written with a positive or reassuring aim. They can be imprinted in the conscious and subconscious mind if used correctly and aim to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts and give you positive changes in the way you think of yourself and the world around you. We actually create many affirmations for ourselves but these are often negative ones such as, ‘I am unattractive’. 

You might be wondering if there is evidence to suggest that affirmations do work and the answer to that question is, yes.

Image showing all the things the mind filters

How do affirmations work in the brain?

So, your wondering how affirmations work and whether they are worth the effort?

The neuroplasticity in our brains allows us to create new pathways and strengthen old ones. The brain can often become confused with imagination and reality which means we can think about things we would like to achieve and the brain can take it for reality.

When this happens, many of the areas in the brain which are activated when we actually experience these things become activated. If these things are continuously imagined, the brain begins to take them as fact. 

When you truly believe you can do something, your actions can often follow. 

a pathway running through an autumnal forest

How should I be using affirmations for the best outcome?

Using affirmations is extremely easy and if done correctly can have desirable outcomes. I believe that two or three affirmations are plenty because if we have too many to remember it can make an easy task seem hard and unachievable. It is also important to know that you can change your affirmations to a new set when you feel you have achieved them. 

Having your affirmations visible

Writing down your affirmations and sticking them on your bedroom mirror or fridge can be useful because each time you see them you will automatically read them, thus imprinting them in the mind. I like to give my clients a little glass bottle to put their affirmations in so they can keep them in their handbag or the glove box of their car. This is especially useful if you would like to overcome a habit when driving, for example nail biting or binge eating. Having the affirmations on hand can be extremely helpful in achieving your goal. 

Self Hypnosis

Saying affirmations when practising self-hypnosis can be extremely helpful as they are being said within subconscious thinking. This is where all our patterns of behaviour and past feelings are stored. Thinking of the affirmations at a subconscious level can help the brain to visualise the ways you would like to behave and therefore adding to changes in behaviour. 

If you are unsure about self-hypnosis and how to use it, have a read of my blog here 

A picture of a dandelion clock

How can you decide which affirmations will work for you?

If you would like to use affirmations but are unsure about how they could work specifically for you, it would be good to begin writing a thoughts diary; recording your negative and automatic thoughts. Once you have identified patterns in your thinking and those thoughts that are putting you down you can create new, positive sentences that flip the negative thoughts on their head. For example, if you are telling yourself that everything is your fault and that you haven’t achieved anything in your life, your affirmation could be: ‘I am worthy and important’.

Once you have identified your negative thought patterns it is time to write some affirmations. Follow these simple rules for affirmation writing. 

  • Beginning your affirmation with ‘I am  …’ gives you ownership of the sentence and a command to the subconscious mind. The mind interprets it as a directive and therefore must follow through with it. 
Lady with arms in the air showing that she is free from anxiety and stress.
  • If you keep your affirmation brief it is easier to remember and is not confusing for the mind which is already filtering many things from your day. I believe that the simpler you make them, the easier they will imprint on the mind. 
Focus on growth
  • Affirmations in the present tense are easier for the mind to understand and helps it to visualise the outcome. For example, ‘I am slimmer and healthier’ not ‘I will be slimmer and healthier’.
  • Make sure your affirmations are related to you and what you would like to achieve. If you have completed the negative thoughts diary it will help you to plan which thoughts need to be targeted and the positive sentences can then be created. 

 

Keep the affirmations positive and don’t use any negative words. For example, ‘I am not a smoker’ will be interpreted by the mind as ‘I am a smoker’ so write the affirmation as ‘I am a non-smoker’.

Statements to empower you

Why are affirmations often used in hypnotherapy sessions?

People come to hypnotherapy sessions because they would like to change a behaviour or current way of feeling or thinking and affirmations can help to do just that. In collaboration with hypnosis, affirmations can help to reinforce what is completed in sessions between the client and therapist. The more that the client can do at home, the more successful their outcome is likely to be. I always like to teach my clients self-hypnosis and I believe that affirmations are an important part of the steps to self-hypnosis. 

A list of example affirmations for anxiety
Example affirmations for stopping smoking

The aim of this blog was to help you understand more about affirmations and how they are affective in improving your mental health. I hope that you are now ready to investigate your thought processes and have the confidence to use my rules to writing affirmations to create your own. You will soon notice how fun and addictive it can become!

 

Alison Ralph

Get in touch...

If you are struggling with your mental health and would like to find out how hypnotherapy could help you I am here to answer all of your questions. 

07719032346