Self-affirmation Does it really work? Can we think ourselves better than we feel?
American Psychologist, Claude Steele, popularised self-affirmation in the 1980’s which examines how being forced outside our comfort zones affect our self-esteem. Studies have found that self-affirmation leads to “better mental and physical well-being, including greater happiness, hopefulness, optimism and health with less sadness and anger.”
Well it appears that self-affirmation allows us to accept the unpleasantness of a situation and still feel okay. Researchers found that personal self-affirmation statements allow us to recall and engage with a positive emotion/belief/image, as we have previously experienced in ourselves, allowing us to cope with situations that we would usually find threatening.
Neuroplasticity, the idea that thoughts can change the structure and function our brains suggests practising positive thoughts or affirmations regularly to flood your brain with the positive belief.
So, lets imagine you struggle to feel good about yourself, the idea is to find a short positive affirmation that you can repeat easily over and over again to yourself. So, for example, “I am a kind person”, “I can enjoy life”. Find a few that work for you and make them your friend. You can repeat them in your head, say them out loud to yourself, write them down and carry them with you, or have them as wall art in your home.
Self-affirmation or positive thinking can really have a impact on your mood, thoughts and behaviour – just try it.