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Negative beliefs and thoughts about ourselves can cause us to self-sabotage and hold us back from achieving our dreams.
Positive affirmations are statements or mantras you can use to change your mental habits. They help you replace negative beliefs with positive ones. They can help you change your thought patterns, too.
On its own, a positive affirmation isn't enough to create change. But, they can support your efforts to change your behavior, build your confidence, and achieve your goals — both personal and professional.
Let’s explore affirmations and how they work, plus 30 positive affirmations to help you get started.
What are positive affirmations?
They are positive messages in the present tense. Over time, they can help you decrease negative self-talk and increase positive thinking.
You can repeat them to yourself daily, either by speaking them aloud or by writing them in your journal.
It seems like everyone on social media is talking about the power of affirmations these days. But if you’ve never used them (or even if you have), they can feel a bit awkward at first.
The fact that we feel uncomfortable using words of self-affirmation indicates that most of our self-talk is negative.
Thoughts are reflections of our beliefs, so if your thoughts about yourself are mostly negative, so are the underlying beliefs. Positive affirmations can help you replace those beliefs with new, more positive ones.
We also tend to be very demanding of ourselves. Everyone makes mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we’re failures. Using positive affirmations can help you become more resilient to setbacks and bounce back when things go wrong.
Automatic thoughts are your brain’s go-to. It can be easy to fall into the trap of taking these thoughts as truth. But positive affirmations can rewire your brain, so your automatic thoughts become predominantly positive.
Using daily affirmations can form part of your self-care practice and help you make positive changes in your life.
Positive daily affirmations can also help you:
- Improve your self-worth
- Cultivate a positive self-image
- Improve your physical health
- Change negative thinking
- Transform low self-esteem
- Boost your self-confidence
- Improve your mental health and fitness
- Develop your problem-solving abilities
How do positive affirmations work?
To understand how positive affirmations work, you need to understand a bit about how your brain works. It’s formed of millions of structures known as neural pathways.
These pathways become stronger with use. So by repeating a thought or action, it becomes part of the physical structure of your brain.
The stronger a neural pathway becomes, the more automatic and frequent the thought or belief becomes.
But why do beliefs matter? Because they influence the way we behave and the energy we put into our work, relationships, and life.
The result is that thoughts and beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies. This is true whether they are positive or negative.
This may sound like wishful thinking. But there is scientific evidence that backs up the effectiveness of affirmations. One study found that affirmations activate the brain’s reward centers. This helps to create, reshape, and strengthen new neural pathways.
For example, let’s say you aspire to publish a book, but you lack confidence in your abilities.
You probably have some negative beliefs that show up in the form of negative thoughts, such as:
“I’m not a good enough writer.”
“Nobody will read my book because no one cares what I have to say.”
“I can’t write a book.”
“I don’t have any ideas.”
“My ideas aren’t good enough.”
“I need to get a publishing deal, and that’s pretty much impossible.”
As a result of these beliefs, you never start taking steps toward your goal of writing a book. You never write or publish it, just as you predicted. Your negative belief has fulfilled itself.
Positive affirmations harness the power of neuroplasticity to create new neural pathways. At first, these new pathways are weak, which is why affirmations can feel uncomfortable initially.
But with time and repetition, these new, more positive neural pathways become stronger. Eventually, they supersede the old, negative neural pathways. When this happens, positive automatic thoughts replace the old negative automatic thoughts.
To create positive affirmations, start by becoming aware of your automatic negative thoughts. Write a list of your negative beliefs. Then, turn them into positive statements.
So, for our aspiring writer, positive affirmations might look something like this:
“I am an excellent writer.”
“Many people will resonate with my unique perspective. The world needs my book.”
“I can write a book.”
“I am constantly generating new and brilliant ideas.”
“I give myself permission to choose myself by self-publishing my book.”
But positive affirmations work through repetition. It’s not enough to just read them once.
This might look like repeating them aloud in front of the mirror or by writing them out 50 to 100 times in your journal. Experiment to find what works for you.
30 daily affirmations for positive change
If you’re ready to start working with positive affirmations, use these 30 uplifting messages to change your negative thought patterns and create your best life:
- I am enough. I have enough.
- I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.
- I can do hard things.
- I allow myself to be more fully me.
- I believe in myself.
- I am grateful for another day of life.
- I am worthy of what I desire.
- I choose myself.
- I am resilient in the face of challenges.
- I am proud of myself and my achievements.
- I will accomplish everything I need to do today.
- I do my best, and my best is good enough.
- I prioritize my well-being.
- I overcome my fears by getting out of my comfort zone.
- I am love, and I am loved.
- Money comes frequently and easily to me.
- I trust my inner guidance and follow it.
- I accept my emotions and let them move through me.
- I take care of myself, mind, body, and spirit.
- I trust myself to make the right decisions.
- I give myself permission to take up space.
- I use my voice to speak up for myself and others.
- I trust that I’m heading in the right direction.
- I allow myself to make mistakes as they help me grow.
- I accept myself exactly as I am without judgment.
- I have everything I need to achieve my goals.
- I am constantly generating brilliant ideas.
- I am safe and supported.
- I love and accept myself.
- I am kind to myself and others.
Now, let’s break each of these down.
1. I am enough. I have enough.
This affirmation will increase your confidence and counter feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt. The second part helps put you in a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity.
2. I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.
This quote by the late best-selling author and self-help queen Louise Hay is an excellent affirmation. It can help when you deal with comparison and social expectations.
3. I can do hard things.
Use this affirmation when you feel overwhelmed or burnt out by a problem or challenge.
4. I allow myself to be more fully me.
5. I believe in myself.
6. I am grateful for another day of life.
Life can be hard, and sometimes we take it for granted. Reminding yourself to be grateful for your life can help you live it more fully.
7. I am worthy of what I desire.
8. I choose myself.
Sometimes, we wait for others to give us permission to do the things we want to do. By choosing yourself, you give yourself permission to do anything you put your mind to.
9. I am resilient in the face of challenges.
This reminds you that you’re stronger than you think and have the resilience to handle anything life throws at you.
10. I am proud of myself and my achievements.
This can help you stop comparing yourself to others or waiting for someone else to tell you they’re proud of you.
11. I will accomplish everything I need to do today.
Whether you’re a procrastinator or perfectionist, this affirmation will help you get things done.
12. I do my best, and my best is good enough.
13. I prioritize my well-being.
This affirmation can help you solidify new, healthier habits.
14. I overcome my fears by getting out of my comfort zone.
15. I am love, and I am loved.
This is a good reminder for those days when you might not feel so loveable.
16. I am effortlessly prosperous and successful.
This is a good affirmation for improving your financial wellness.
17. I trust my inner guidance and follow it.
This affirmation can help you strengthen and learn to trust your intuition.
18. I accept my emotions and let them move through me.
This affirmation can help with emotional regulation.
19. I take care of myself, mind, body, and spirit.
Use this affirmation to integrate self-care practices that soothe your mind, body, and soul.
20. I trust myself to make the right decisions.
This affirmation can help you when you need to make a decision or simply want to improve your decision-making abilities.
21. I give myself permission to take up space.
Use this affirmation to show up more confidently in the world as your whole self.
22. I use my voice to speak up for myself and others.
It takes courage to speak out against injustice. This affirmation can help you find that courage.
23. I trust that I’m heading in the right direction.
Sometimes we can have doubts about our life choices or path. Let this affirmation reassure you you’re on the right track.
24. I allow myself to make mistakes as they help me grow.
Making mistakes is part of the learning process, but we’re often so afraid of making them we don’t even try. This affirmation will give you the courage to make mistakes and try again.
25. I accept myself exactly as I am without judgment.
This affirmation can help you be less self-critical.
26. I have everything I need to achieve my goals.
27. I am constantly generating brilliant ideas.
This affirmation can help you overcome creative blocks.
28. I am safe and supported.
We all feel insecure at times. This affirmation can help you feel safer and more grounded.
29. I love and accept myself.
Self-love is fundamental for a fulfilling life. Use this affirmation to cultivate more self-acceptance and compassion.
30. I am kind to myself and others.
The world needs a little more kindness. This affirmation can help you embody it.
How to use positive affirmations
You can use affirmations to bring positive energy and a more open mind to any area of your daily life. But positive affirmations aren't magical. And they aren't a weapon to use against others.
Use them to put yourself in the right frame of mind, then get to work. Action and engaging with the world are what bring about change.
For example, you may want to use positive affirmations to:
- Manage your emotions
- Overcome challenges at work
- Increase your productivity
- Improve your focus and concentration
- Build your self-esteem
- Feel more confident before a meeting, presentation, or interview
- Start and maintain good habits
- Feel better about yourself
- Improve your relationships
- Start mindful eating or intuitive eating
- Improve your overall wellness
- Begin a fitness regime
For best results, repeat your affirmations at the same time each day — try setting a reminder on your phone if necessary.
Ways to repeat your affirmations include:
- Speaking them aloud in front of the mirror
- Writing them out in your journal or notebook
- Recording yourself speaking them and then listening to them during your commute to work or morning meditation practice
Some people even like to turn their affirmations into art. You might want to write out your affirmations in big letters and surround them with shapes and colors. Another great option is to add your affirmations to your vision board.
If you’re musical, you could even turn them into a song. Don’t be afraid to get creative, experiment, and find what works for you.
But affirmations alone are usually not enough to make the lasting positive changes you’re after. It also requires real-world planning and action.
In fact, affirmations work best when combined with personal goal-setting. Once you’ve decided on your objective, you can create self-affirmation statements to support the achievement of that goal.
You can also use visualization exercises alongside affirmations.
Visualization helps you “see” yourself already achieving your goals and taps into the emotions you expect to feel once you’ve achieved them.
Like affirmations, this helps motivate you to take consistent action toward your objectives.
Use the power of affirmations to change your life
Positive affirmations are a scientifically-backed way to rewire your brain that transform negative thoughts and change your life for the better.
A daily self-affirmation practice can support you in all areas of life: from health and well-being to relationships and career.
If you’d like to discover what you can achieve with the support of an expert coach, sign up for a free coaching session with BetterUp. We’ll help you unlock your highest potential.
Sr. Insights Manager