When it comes to confidence affirmations, many people picture someone standing in front of a mirror reciting phrases at themselves and immediately feeling on top of the world. While this is not quite how it happens, affirmations like these do work - and the mirror is optional.
Affirmations are positive thoughts about yourself and your abilities that, when repeated often, can help to overcome negative thought processes. Often starting with the phrase 'I am' and being in the present tense, they're an important part of manifestation, where you think aspirational thoughts with the aim of them becoming a reality, and building confidence.
Learning how to be more confident is a process that happens gradually though, so it makes sense that having a daily practice would help with this. “Thoughts are always whizzing around our heads and they impact how we feel and behave each day,” says Jules Wyman (opens in new tab), a confidence coach with over 17 years of experience. “They happen automatically. Yet we can choose to give attention to thoughts that are more helpful and result in us accessing confidence.” Here, two experts reveal why and how exactly confidence affirmations work and a list of ones to try.
Do confidence affirmations work?
Absolutely, repeating positive affirmations is a self-help strategy that’s meant to challenge the negative, promote self-confidence and belief in your own abilities, says Jenny Okolo (opens in new tab), a psychiatric occupational therapist within the NHS.
“There’s always a debate as to whether affirmations are really motivating or an exaggerated and tainted view of reality,” she says. “I find affirmations very useful for keeping my goals and dreams alive. While hard work will always triumph affirmations, I’ve always found myself achieving success through such positive reinforcement.”
When used in the right way, affirmations have been proven to do wonders for our self-esteem and confidence. Research by Texas A&M University (opens in new tab), for example, looked at participant MRI scans and found that certain neural pathways in the brain increased when subjects practiced affirmations. Specifically, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex - responsible for much of our emotional processing, decision-making, memory, and self-perception - became more active.
As a result, the study leads said, after practicing confidence affirmations we're able to see "otherwise-threatening information as more self-relevant and valuable". In other words, we're less likely to be stressed and more likely to respond to negative health situations (i.e. a headache), with positive action (i.e. drinking water) than we otherwise might do.
Not only that, but they're a helpful tool when learning how to deal with loneliness and similar issues as they make us more immune to difficult situations, like social pressures, when they arise.
Whether you're in search of tips for body confidence or a helping hand with social anxiety, if you want to give confidence affirmations a try, here are some to use yourself.
- I will continue to learn and grow
- I am capable of doing hard things
- Great job!
- I am enough
- Don't overthink it
- I am OK
- I always find a way
- I am comfortable in my own skin
- This moment will pass
- It's OK to leave my comfort zone
- I learn something from every experience
- I am proud of myself and my achievements
- I feel comfortable speaking my mind
- I am happy to be me
- I am in control
- My uniqueness is my superpower
- I attract what is best for me
- I don't have to apologize for who I am
- I am allowed to take up space
- I already have everything I need to succeed
- My own approval is enough
- I deserve happiness
- I love my body as it is today
- I can accomplish the goals I have set for myself
- I am confident
- My future is bright
- I am strong
- I am capable
- Good things will happen for me
- I am becoming a better version of myself every day
- I am a good friend
- I am competent
- I celebrate myself exactly as I am
- Change is a positive thing
- I am loved by my friends and family
How to use confidence affirmations
Two tried and tested ways are: having them printed out and stuck somewhere you see often, like a bathroom or bedroom mirror, or saying them aloud to yourself over and over again. Much like how having examples of positive body language helps to incorporate the practice into everyday life, having a list of affirmations can do the same.
You could also:
- Put one of the best body confidence quotes as your phone background.
- Use an affirmation app like ThinkUp (opens in new tab), which sends you daily affirmations to consider.
- Write an affirmation down and leave it in your purse or wallet.
- Use an affirmation deck like Mal Paper’s card deck (opens in new tab), with 52 affirmations to choose from every day.
Ultimately though, you can use the affirmations however you want, in any way that makes you take stock of what they’re saying.
If you want to make your own affirmations, confidence coach Jules has a tip: keep it simple. “Affirmations like ‘I rock and I’m amazing’ aren’t always useful because often when life throws a curve ball, it’s a challenge to believe ‘I’m amazing’. But you do know the truth of ‘this moment will pass’ or ‘I will find a way’ because you always have,” she says.
A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.
She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.
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