Affirmations have been around for a long time and have particularly gained notoriety out of the New Age movement – which unfortunately sometimes makes people skeptical about their validity. However, new advances in neuroscience have shown that what we say to ourselves can really impact how our brains are “wired.”
In a nutshell, the science behind affirmations is that if you tell yourself something for long enough, your brain will start to believe it. And as the brain has been shown in recent decades to be changeable and “plastic,” the thoughts that we are feeding into it can either keep us stuck (i.e. the same neurons firing off over and over again) or can move us forward (by creating new neural clusters based around a different way of seeing the world).
It’s like if you wake up in the morning and tell yourself that it’s going to be a bad day. Well, then, of course it will be – you have already fed those thoughts into your brain so your brain will automatically be looking for everything that can go wrong – and it will all go wrong! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, try waking up and setting an intention for yourself to notice the positive things that happen throughout the day – however small.
For example, someone may hold the door open for you; or you might see a beautiful sunrise; or you might hear a really good joke. Then the brain is primed to look for the good and ignore most of the bad. Essentially the brain filters what you tell it to – and because it can only take in a small amount of information amongst billions of bits of information that surround us each day – you take back control of what you pay attention to. This is why I often task clients to, before going to sleep, list three things they noticed throughout the day that made them happy in some way. And the interesting thing is that once you notice three – as time goes by, your brain can’t help but notice more and more.
So, affirmations in a sense, do the same thing in our brain. When we tell ourselves that we can do something we thought we couldn’t do or that we already possess qualities that we would like to have (confidence, strength), the brain locks those beliefs in and we begin to model our world from those new belief systems, which means that the old models that no longer serve us begin to weaken.
Dr. David Hamilton is someone whom I have a great admiration – not only because he uses science to explain how we can be happier, more caring and more positive human beings, but because he models what he teaches so well and just radiates positivity and goodness. He recently posted his top ten affirmations on his website and I would like to share them with you. Some of them really moved me and others I will be incorporating into my daily soundtrack.
TOP TEN AFFIRMATIONS
1. I am grateful for all that I am, for all that I have, and for all that I experience.
2. I live each day with happiness and joy, trusting that only good things come to me.
3. I love and accept myself just as I am.
4. I love to cultivate thoughts that enrich my life and my relationships
5. I let go of blame and I speak my truth authentically – without judging myself or others.
6. I love to focus on the good things in my life and I love that doing this brings me more blessings.
7. I have the inner strength to handle any situation that I find myself in.
8. My mind and body are healthy and strong and I nourish them with my spirit, which is infinite.
9. I am flexible. I welcome changes in my life and adapt with courage and ease.
10. I allow myself to feel happiness and joy for no reason at all. Simply because I deserve it.
What can you think of that you could feed your brain instead of the typical negative patterns of thinking that our brains sometimes seem to prefer?