Affirmation Defined


verb \ə-ˈfərm\

: to say that something is true in a confident way

: to show a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea)

In Cognitive Therapy, the counseling client is directed to pay attention to “self-talk”, the internal dialogue we each have running in the backs of our minds. If one is depressed, chances are very good that the internal dialogue is negative in nature, and contributes to the persisting depression. The client is directed to pay attention to these thoughts, examine them on a rational, objective basis, and reformulate them in a way that is not so self-deprecating.

For example, if a person makes a mistake, no matter how trivial, and their immediate internal chatter is, “I’m so stupid! Why do I always make these stupid mistakes??”, he is instructed to mentally take a step back, acknowledge that he is a fallible human being, just like everyone else, and to also acknowledge that one mistake is not ‘always’, that he does well with this tasks for the most part, and is not stupid, but has merely made a small mistake. This is very difficult for some people, especially if their negative self-talk is a perpetuation of comments directed at them by authority figures during their formative years. Often people are able to pinpoint the origins of these negative thoughts to parents or teachers, when they realize that sometimes these thoughts actually manifest in the negative adult’s voice within their memories.

Affirmations are a very strong tool in the reversal of negative self-talk. Sometimes it’s hard not to think to yourself, upon repeating an affirmation that’s important to you, “but that’s a lie!” If you’re always late, and want to improve your punctuality, you might try an affirmation along the lines of “I am always five minutes early.” If you’re always 15 minutes late, your brain is going to immediately tell you that this is an incorrect statement because “I’m always late!” Well, where did “I’m always late” come from? How long have you been telling yourself that? How long have you been affirming your chronic tardiness? Is that your mother’s voice you hear in the back of your mind asking you why you can’t ever be on time? (My personal affirmation for punctuality is “I am always in the right place at the right time” – kind of an affirmed agreement between me and the universe.)

I use affirmations on a daily basis. At first, I used only affirmations others had written, and sometimes I still do, but now I also craft my own when I have a very specific idea I want to reinforce to myself. My last post mentioned my current top affirmation, I act on my intentions. Some secondary ones that appear in rotation are: I am healthy and whole, which addresses some current health issues; I envision my life as a want it to be, from Unity’s Daily Word, to help me get past the “I can’ts” that I continue to work through; I attract my highest good, one that I really liked the sound of when I read it in one of Louise Hay‘s books .

Next, we’ll talk about some good sources for affirmations and also how to craft your own. Also, please share any affirmations you find helpful.