The difference between can and cannot are only three letters. Three letters that determine your life’s direction

– Remez Sasson

The primary goal of an affirmation is to integrate a suggestion into the subconscious mind and make it accept it as a personal truth while building that thought into a person’s reality. Affirmations allow people to alter those modes of thinking that no longer work for them. Affirmations serve to empower people to take the actions necessary to move beyond the fear that holds them back and step into the future with confidence.

There are guidelines to affirmation writing which enhance the ability of the statements to gain acceptance in the subconscious mind. Successful affirmations are highly personal. The affirmations people choose to use will depend upon numerous factors, such as their particular goals, their personal values, and their assessment of their personal abilities to reach those goals.

Successful affirmations are personal. They must be ecological and fit into a person’s value system. Additionally, affirmations must be personally convincing in order to impact the subconscious mind. Affirmations are suggestions that are intended to alter belief systems which, in turn, motivate one to take the actions which create changes in his or her life. In this way, auto-suggestion works to support one’s long term goals and aspirations.

Successful affirmations are realistic. Unrealistic affirmations usually fail. In fact, they can actually backfire. It is easier to start with smaller achievable goals that support one’s ultimate aspirations. For someone with low self-esteem, it is best to start building that person’s sense of self-worth by acknowledging his or her successes prior to giving suggestions that counteract that person’s current belief system.

Since the key to improving self-esteem and self-efficacy is focusing on changing behavior and visualizing one engaging in successful behaviors, another option in writing affirmations is to qualify the statement in a manner that gives the person control over their own feelings and actions. This will minimize resistance to the new thoughts.

For instance, one can add the qualifier ‘I choose to_______’ rather than state the affirmation outright. It is easier for the subconscious mind to believe the change is a choice rather than a reality.

Other qualifiers which can be useful in this instance include;

“Each day I _____­­ [Add your goal here] _____,” and
“I am become more and more_____ [Add your goal here] _____.”

One may wish to use a variation of Emile Coué’s famous affirmation:

“every day, in every way, I am getting better and better,” by stating
“every day, in every way, I am _____[Add your goal here]_____.”

This can also be done using various ego-strengthening techniques. One way to strengthen one’s sense of self-esteem is have that person remember an experience in which he or she felt great about an accomplishment and have him or her anchor those feelings into the affirmation.

Successful affirmations trigger positive emotions and strong visualizations. Because imagination is stronger than willpower, emotional connections make affirmations stronger. It is best to write affirmations using strong sensory language; ask the person what he or she expects to see, hear, feel, sense, and do when the suggestion becomes reality. Let the words elicit the senses and evoke feelings related to the desired experience. It is important to visualize the reality as one in which the affirmation has already become true.

Successful affirmations are stated positively. Affirmations must give the subconscious mind a picture of the goal soon to be accomplished. The subconscious mind does not reason and, thus, it will ultimately act upon the image that is fed into it without consideration as to one’s true intent. If one uses negation and tells the mind what not to do, the subconscious mind will form an impression of the behavior or thought that the person is trying to avoid. It will not understand that its purpose is to avoid that thought. It is best to tell the mind what is wanted rather than what is not wanted.

For instance, the statement “I do not want to drink soda” will undoubtedly lead one to think of the undesired substance. It is best to replace it with a more desirable thought such as “I prefer water over other drinks.”

Successful affirmations are always stated in the present. Always state the affirmation in the present tense as if the desired result were occurring now. The reason to avoid phrasing the affirmation for the future (as in ‘I will’ or ‘I hope’) is that a future point of reference keeps one in a state of waiting and gives the subconscious mind a reason to put off making the desired changes.

If the affirmation encompasses a large goal, one that will take time to fulfill, a person may opt to qualify the statement by adding phrases like ‘I choose to have_____’ in order to make it more believable to the subconscious mind.

Successful affirmations tend to be short statements. It is easier to remember short statements than longer ones.

Successful affirmations are matched to the goal. If one has a specific goal, then it is best to write a specific affirmation to match that goal. It is easier to measure success when using specific affirmations. On the other hand, if a person wants to open up more possibilities in his or her life, then a generalized affirmation would be most appropriate.

Successful affirmations are matched to the method of delivery. Affirmations should be composed in the first person (as in ‘I am’) for people planning on saying, reading, or writing them for themselves. Affirmations should be phrased in the second person (as in ‘you are’), if the affirmations are going to be recorded for others.

Just as there are guidelines to write effective affirmations, there are strategies to increase the effectiveness of auto-suggestion. First and foremost, the affirmations need to become an automatic and routine recital. In addition to repetition, two other activities improve the efficacy of affirmations they are relaxation and visualization

Relaxation increases the effectiveness of affirmations. The more relaxed one is the more likely the affirmation will be able to bypass the critical factor of the conscious mind. Affirmations are more successful if they are attended to at least twice daily and at approximately the same time each day. One may choose to recite his or her affirmations just after waking up for the day and prior to falling asleep at night as these are the times when he or she is most likely in a relaxed state of mind. Another person may learn deep breathing exercises or self-hypnosis and carve out personal time to reflect their personalized affirmations back to themselves.

Visualization increases the effectiveness of affirmations. Imagining the results, while visualizing what it would be like to have achieved the goal, increases efficacy. The more positive emotion and sensory details one experiences during the visualization, the stronger the affirmation will become.

Repetition and Commitment increase the effectiveness of affirmations. Repetition and commitment are vital to the success of auto-suggestion. The more exposure one has to the affirmations, the easier it will be for the subconscious mind to accept them. The goal of using affirmations is to replace negative or outdated thoughts with newer and more productive thoughts. This requires that your mind has as much exposure to the new thoughts as it does to the thoughts that needs replacing. The goal, in the beginning of the process should be to repeat the affirmations at least twenty-one consecutive days, longer if the older thoughts return.
There are various techniques of using affirmations, they include:

  • writing the affirmations on small pieces of paper (such as sticky notes or 3 x 5 cards) and placing them in highly visible locations so that one is reminded of the goals,
  • recording them onto an audio file,
  • verbally repeating the affirmations,
  • writing them down daily,
  • daydreaming about achieving the goal, and
  • using the affirmations during self-hypnosis.
These are a few of the seemingly endless possibilities for using positive affirmations. People recognize that they have achieved success in altering their thinking when the former thoughts and behaviors are reduced, when the undesired thoughts and behaviors disappear entirely, or when they find themselves with an overall more positive attitude. Another sign of success occurs when a negative thought is automatically answered with the personalized affirmation.

Our self-talk influences the way in which we relate to the world in general. We can alter our self-talk in ways to maximize our successes, take credit for them, and become more motivated to make changes in our lives. Our self-talk determines our habits and whether they are productive or self-defeating. Negative thinking tends to produce negative results while positive thinking tends to produce positive results.

Affirmations can neutralize negative self-talk by replacing previously held beliefs in the subconscious mind. Our perceptions of ourselves and our ability to succeed in the world begin in our mind.