Making Affirmations Personal Increases Their Effectiveness. Here's Why

Aug 06, 2022

Making affirmations personal increases their effectiveness. Here's why

(Photo by Puwadon Sang-ngern)

We've made our stance on affirmations pretty clear, they don't work for those who need them most.

Affirmations have long been a popular form of generic and easily shareable self-motivation. But they don't actually do much to help people that already have a positive opinion of themselves. And they can have the opposite intended effect on those who struggle with low self-esteem.[180]

Let's explore a few options that do work.


Self-affirmations are similar to affirmations, but they are more specific to the individual. They work because you base them on something that you believe to be true. 

When people focused on self-affirmations before stress tests, it reduced the amount of stress-induced chemicals produced.[240] Even those who struggled with low self-esteem performed better in social situations.

How to use them

If you struggle with negative self-talk, choosing an affirmation as a goal may hurt you in the long run. For example, if you don't currently love your body, you can be hurt by forcing yourself to think things like, "I love my body." Your negative inner voice may chime in and disagree. 

This inner voice is technically you, but it can say mean things that you don't believe deep down. Things you may have even heard before, like from an unsupportive parent or guardian. It is you but this is one part that's fighting against you. You'll have to learn to stand up for yourself to yourself.

You can turn this affirmation into a self-affirmation like, "I want to do what I can to be more healthy." Your internal monologue should be less able to argue with that. What's wrong with trying to be more healthy?

Iffirmations and visualization

Iffirmations are questions posed to yourself. Such as: "What if I had more compassion for myself?" Many people take an affirmation that they have used in the past and turn them into questions. Questions want answers. This process lets you explore possibilities, while also helping you to form a plan.

Visualization is "seeing" yourself accomplishing a goal. Thinking about the steps you need to take to get there and the feelings you'll experience. From there you can make smaller goals to help you get to the larger goal. Seeing the results can help motivate you to keep going.

For more about how Visualization and Iffirmations work, click here.

Why do they work well together?

You can use these techniques to pump yourself up before a stressful or an anxiety-inducing activity. Remind yourself of your strengths and past accomplishments. Focus on why you CAN do something. Every time that you make a sincere effort, that is one more thing to use as a self-affirmation. Every road block or obstacle you overcome can be a point of pride. 

Visualization to see your goals. Self-affirmations to keep you motivated. Iffirmations to guide you.

Reaffirming your strengths and persistence has a cumulative effect. With each step that you take towards your goal, you should gain more confidence. In yourself and your ability to effect positive change in your life. Each time that you try something is a win because you made a true effort. 

Be patient with yourself and track your progress

Write down your goals, what it takes to achieve them, and any steps you can take towards them. This way if you ever feel like you don't have it in you, you can look back. You can count all the times that you succeeded or made an effort in the past. Seeing evidence of your past accomplishments may help to motivate yourself today.

It's also a good idea to reevaluate your goal plan on a regular basis. If you are ahead of schedule, you may want to set the bar a little higher for yourself. If you aren't progressing as fast as you had hoped, you may need to extend your timeline. Or take a look at the steps that you've been taking and determine if they are effective.

Try to think about things that you do well or have accomplished in life. An example of a time that you gave 100%, or tried something that scared you. A time you found the perfect present for a friend, or made someone's day better by being kind or courteous.

Take credit for every shred of effort that you make. Every win that you get is evidence that you're improving, that you are moving forward and not giving up. This doesn't just represent the actual effort, but the value that you are putting in yourself. You're telling yourself that you're worth the effort.

You may find the goal isn't as important as you thought

As you develop behaviors and thought processes to reach your goals, they may change. You may discover that being a more action-oriented and confident person was your ultimate goal. Once you have the tools for change, then you can start to apply them to other situations. The sky's the limit.

Nothing worth having comes easy, there will be work to do. But these tools can help you through the difficult times.

Continue Your Journey