How effective are positive affirmations; Here’s the science behind it

There is a genuine theory and fair amount of neuroscience behind this practice.

Random Goodmorning messages might irk you but when you are surrounded by negative thoughts, one nudge in the positive direction might brighten your day. That is what positive affirmations are about.  Writing down or telling yourself positive things ward off negative vibes. But is its not abstract as skeptics would think. There is a genuine theory and fair amount of neuroscience behind this practice.

What are positive affirmations and how they challenge negative thoughts

Positive affirmations are as easy to define as they are easy to practice in real life. They are just positive phrases that challenge all the negative thoughts you have in mind and boost self-esteem. Positive affirmations can be used to combat subconscious patterns and replace them with adaptive narratives. Telling yourself how awesome you are can look bizarre but it doesn’t hurt if it can calm you down and release some happy hormones.

The psychological theory behind positive affirmations

One of the key theories behind positive affirmations is Steele’s theory of self-affirmation where we can maintain a sense of self-integrity by telling ourselves what we believe in.  Through self-affirmations we keep a narrative about ourself that is flexible, moral and capable of adapting to different circumstances. Moreover, self-identity presses on the idea that we just need to be competent and adequate in areas that we personally value to be good.

Scientific findings about positive affirmations helping you

Research has found that positive affirmations activate reward centres- ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. These are the same responses in the brain when you do find other pleasurable experiences like eating your favourite food or accomplishing a feat etc. Lead researcher of the study published in journal Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience says these circuits in the brain can maintain calm during threats or lower pain and when they receive positive affirmations they respond.

Other health benefits of positive affirmations

Positive affirmations make you less aggressive and make your responses more restrained towards threats. A study showed positive affirmations helped people get rid of bad habits to certain extent. More generally, a broader sense of self makes you more resilient to difficulties when they arise, be it an uncomfortable situation, societal pressure, loneliness or handling a health information.

Examples of positive affirmations irrespective to who you are 

I am a successful person and I choose to be happy

I trust my own wisdom and my life is taking me right there

I am capable of what I do and I am in charge of my thoughts

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