What Are Affirmations and How Do They Work?


Woman joyful and smiling.

What Are Affirmations, Anyway?

I could write a book about how affirmations changed my life. I started an affirmations practice last year around New Year and my life has transformed in indescribable ways since then. So what are affirmations, exactly, and how do they work?

In short, affirmations are statements that you declare to be positive and true. These statements are powerful, positive, and present tense, and they work by helping to alter our mindset through practice to create a better habit, experience, or life for ourselves.

There are many misconceptions about affirmations out there, including beliefs that people are dumb for thinking affirmations are magic, the florid language is ridiculous, and they don’t actually work.

All of these misconceptions are false, so let’s delve more into where “affirmation” came from and how exactly they can work to create effective, positive change in your life.

Are you ready to use affirmations to shape your mindset and your life?

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What Are Affirmations? All Your Questions Answered! What does affirmation mean? How do affirmations work? Are affirmations really effective? How many affirmations at a time should I use? Why don't affirmations work? Wild Simple Joy. #affirmations #faqs

What does “affirmation” mean?

The word “affirm” comes from latin meaning “strengthen or make steady”. In Middle English (1300’s) it was “affirmen”, meaning “to state positively”.

When we’re talking about recent use of the word, affirm means to confirm or agree with something. It is a positive word and it usually means the truth.

Affirmations are statements that you make to be true!

What are affirmations and how do they work?

Affirmations are statements you make to be true.

So if you say something like,

I am wealthy and living in luxury!

you will notice that it is a positive statement, it’s in present tense (first person), and powerful!

Now here’s where thing get a little controversial.

If you’re working 50 hours as a waitress for pennies, and you say, “I am wealthy and living in luxury”… isn’t that an untrue statement?

Absolutely NOT!

Here’s why.

Affirmations are designed to be used in practice. These are statements that you use again and again, day after day.

Whenever you do something regularly, it becomes a routine, and then it becomes a habit.

This is an affirmation: "I attract all good things."

When you build new habits into your life, you are changing the way you think. You are literally rewiring your brain to choose whatever it is!

So in the above example, when you think about wealth and living in luxury in a regular basis, you think about it more. You are more likely to make conscious decisions about your wealth or your home, clothes, and other aspects of your life to reflect being wealthy, like taking care of and cleaning your car and home regularly, or saving money!

Additionally, you’re more likely to pay attention to money or things in your environment to do with money.

Everyone always uses the example that if you’re always thinking about red cars, you’ll see red cars everywhere!

Similarly, if you’re practicing your money affirmations, you’re always thinking about money, and therefore might notice when you’re overspending or when you have opportunities for a better bank, higher interest rates on savings accounts, or a raise.

In another example, if you may be focusing on responding calmly to stressful situations. Your affirmation might be:

My inner world is calm. I always feel at peace and at ease!

When this is your affirmation, you’re always thinking about being calm and peaceful! When you think about being calm and peaceful regularly, you not only notice when you feel that way, you are also building actions into your day that help you feel that way more and more.

You might also begin to notice what sorts of things trigger you to not feel that way. Maybe every time you haven’t eaten in three hours or more, you’re more likely to feel irritable and cranky.

After a few weeks of building these positive, powerful, present statements into your life, they will become habits.

Habits aren’t always enough to create that change in our lives that we want. In his book, Becoming Supernatural, Dr. Joe Dispenza states that it does not matter how often you say an affirmation… if you don’t feel it, it will not make a difference in your life.

When you are stating, writing or meditating on your affirmation about wealth and luxury, you should focus on feeling the gratitude for the wealth and luxury that you have in your life.

Was that hot shower you took, 15 minutes to yourself without your kids absolute luxury? It very well could be!

Did that $20 bill you found in your purse make you feel a little wealthier? I hope so!

Hold onto those feelings as you practice your affirmations!

When do you feel the most at peace in your life? Was it when you dropped your children at daycare and got into your car, sinking into the seats for a moment to enjoy the silence?

Embrace that feeling as you practice your affirmation about your inner world being peaceful and calm.

Before long, you’ve literally rewired your brain to choose wealth or peace or whatever it is you want!

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Are affirmations really effective?

Affirmations are as effective as you make them.

Affirmations aren’t magic, and they won’t help you change your life by uttering them once or twice and then forgetting about them.

But if you are someone looking to:

  • Change your mindset
  • Develop new, healthy habits
  • Become more positive
  • Change the pattern of toxic decisions in your life
  • Cut out negative habits

then affirmations have the potential to be extremely powerful in your life.

You have to develop an affirmation practice if you want them to be truly effective.

Woman using affirmations with her mala beads during meditation.

Here are a few ways that you can use affirmations in your daily life to make a change:

  1. Write your affirmation(s) in a journal every day.
  2. Take up a meditation practice, and, using mala beads, state your affirmation during meditation.
  3. Write your affirmation or print it out and post it different places, like:
    • the fridge
    • your bathroom mirror
    • inside your closet
    • in your office
  4. Put it on all your devices:
    1. as a wallpaper or lock-screen on your phone
    2. as a wallpaper on your computer
    3. as a wallpaper or lock-screen on your tablet
  5. Say your affirmations during walking, showering, or driving

Remember in the above answer, that you need to focus on feeling however it is you’d like to feel.

Just like practicing an instrument to get better, or running every day to get faster, you need to practice your affirmations with emotions to really lock down that change in your life.

Remember that excellence does not happen overnight.

Psychologists say that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in something. The more you practice your affirmations, the more they will be effective in your life.

So YES! Affirmations can be really effective!

How many affirmations at a time should I use?

This depends on your goal. Is it specific or general?

If your goal is specific, then you should use one or two specific affirmations.

If your goal is a more general one, or you have many different changes you’re making, then you may opt for more affirmations to make a more general alteration on your life.

Personally, I have a tendency to take on many different projects and improvements at once, therefore, I usually use 4-5 affirmations at once.

I don’t recommend using too many, however. First, you won’t be able to memorize them all if you use too many. Also, you may lose the potency or potential of each affirmation with each one that you add.

The more specific that you are with your affirmations, the more specific and powerful results you will have in your life.

Why affirmations don’t work?

If affirmations aren’t working, there could be several things wrong.

First, are your affirmations powerful enough?

Affirmations are not the place to play it safe. Set your sights high and use powerful language.

Second, if you’re not seeing results with your mindset, you likely aren’t using them often enough or in ways that will most benefit your life and your lifestyle.

For example, if you only say your affirmation once a day, in the morning while you are in the shower, then you’re not giving that affirmation maximum exposure time.

You need to be using the affirmation when the OPPOSITE temptation arises.

Let’s say you are using your affirmation to become calmer, as in that second example above. The shower is a pretty calm environment already. But if you’re at school doing playground duty and a parent comes over to scold you for disciplining her child in class the other day—you’d better use that opportunity, while the other woman is chewing you out, to say to yourself:

My inner world is calm. I always feel at peace and at ease!

*(Breathe)*

My inner world is calm. I always feel at peace and at ease!

*(Breathe)*

My inner world is calm. I always feel at peace and at ease!

You get it. Then when the woman is done yelling, you can reply calmly.

Thinking Affirmations…

Another thing to consider is when, during a regular day do you do most of your thinking?

Woman doing walking meditation and using affirmations.

While getting ready for the day?

When on your commute to work?

While on your daily walk on your lunch break?

During nightly dish washing?

These are times that you spend in your inner world. You are alone with your thoughts. What kinds of words are you saying to yourself?

One of the things that people often do while alone with their thoughts is to rehearse bad things that happened that day or week or year or in your childhood. You replay them again and again.

Evolutionarily this served us well because it helped us analyze possible dangerous situations and learn how to avoid them in the future. But this is one of those things that doesn’t translate to our modern world very well.

When you replay moment of stress, anguish, grief, pain, hatred, or turmoil, you are wiring those emotions and thoughts into your brain (just as in the example in question above.)

Affirmations can break the cycle of rehearsing negative experiences.

If you’re expecting affirmations to miraculously bring mind-blowing things into your life, then you need to couple your affirmations with other principles for manifestation. Affirmations are only a small PIECE of the process of manifesting, which I am not covering here.

Feeling Affirmations

Don’t forget to actually feel your affirmations. Evoking that emotion in your life will help you practice your habits and feel successful in them.

The more often you feel gratitude, it will become a habit.

The more often you feel content and at peace, it will also become a habit.

When you bring your heart-brain into your affirmations, you can truly make these affirmations come alive in your life.

How Affirmations Changed My Life

I started using affirmations just over a year ago when I was pregnant with my second boy. I wanted to make a change in my life and quit teaching to become a stay-at-home mom.

I was trying to beat years of negative thinking and emotional manipulation and abuse so that I would not pass those on to my children.

Affirmations have helped me to believe in myself, build an online business, start to get our finances in order, and be patient with my children… which is not always easy when you have a toddler and an infant.

I have used this positivity in my efforts to manifest some pretty serious stuff in my life, and I’m well on my way.

Have you ever used affirmations?

Do you need something positive in your life?

What kind of affirmations would you like to see?

If you’re in need, take a look at my affirmation posts below, and be sure to subscribe and comment! I’d love to hear from you!

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What Are Affirmations?: The Basics: Share below!

Everything you need to know about Affirmations and how to use them for success!
What Are Affirmations and how do they work? All Your Questions Answered! What does affirmation mean? How do affirmations work? Are affirmations really effective? How many affirmations at a time should I use? Why don't affirmations work? Wild Simple Joy.

Questions answered above:

  1. What does “affirmation” mean?
  2. What are affirmations and how do they work?
  3. Are affirmations really effective?
  4. How many affirmations at a time should I use?
  5. Why affirmations don’t work?

14 thoughts on “What Are Affirmations and How Do They Work?”

  1. I totally needed this today. I need to remember how powerful affirmations are and use more of them in my own life. I am in the middle of a transition and it’s been hard on my family. Thank you!

    1. This is such a great introduction and guide to using affirmations! I’m new to affirmations, but using them regularly now and it makes a huge difference! My affirmation for January is ” happiness and success come easy to me”

  2. You took affirmations to a whole new level. This one is new to me, “speaking an affirmation to feel what you would like to feel”. Interesting, Fascinating. Brilliant!

  3. I write in a journal every day about my future vision, gratitude and daily reflection. I’ve occasionally added an affirmation or two when I’ve read them, however, I think it would be good to write affirmation regularly to enforce the message. Concrete the habit.

  4. I really needed this. I’m going through some stressful situations and it makes it so easy to focus on the negative. Hopefully having positive affirmations will help my mindset

  5. Such a detailed post! I’m a therapist and recommend affirmations for everyone! Keeping it simple and stating in the AM in mirror is a great tip that I’ve seen work wonders!

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