Some of you may remember the Saturday Night Live skit with Stuart Smalley, the loveable guy who always repeated affirmations to himself in the mirror. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
Well, the character played by now United States Senator Al Franken was doing something all of us should do everyday of our lives to develop more positive perceptions of ourselves, change harmful behaviors and/or accomplish goals. Affirmations can help us to re-wire our negative thoughts about a situation or ourselves, and help us break bad habits as well as make good quality changes in our daily lives.
Here’s some tips on how to develop and use affirmations for success:
– Take an inventory of your strengths and best qualities. As adults we tend to dwell on our bad qualities, or the mistakes we’ve made. But focusing on your good qualities like “I’m understanding”, “I’m funny”, “I’m a hard worker” etc. is essential when beginning to develop affirmations for positive change.
– Pick 3 positive goals and/or negative self thoughts that you want to work on first for your affirmations. Starting off with too many affirmations is not a good idea, so just start with three and once you see improvement in those areas and/or accomplish those goals then you can start to use new affirmations for other items on your list.
– Write your affirmations. Just like step 1 when you were taking inventory of your strengths, your affirmations should start with “I” and be short, clear, and concise. There are two kinds of future-oriented affirmations you can use to work toward goals.
1.) “I can” statements: Write a statement affirming the fact that you can achieve your goal(s). For example, if you want to quit eating junk food, a statement such as “I can quit eating junk food,” is a good start. Many experts recommend that you avoid any sort of negative connotation, so that you would instead say something like “I can free myself from junk food,” or “I can become a junk-food free person.”
2.) “I will” statements: Write a statement affirming that today you will actually use your ability to achieve your goal. So, following the above example, you could say, “I will be junk food-free today,” or “I will eat less junk food today than yesterday.” Again, the affirmation should use positive language and should simply express what you will do today to achieve the longer-term goal.
– Match your positive strengths and qualities with your affirmations. Which of the positive qualities that you jotted down in step 1 will help you achieve the goals you have set? If you’re quitting drinking alcohol, for example, you may need optimism or courage, or you may need to always remember the fact that you are an overachiever or that you would do anything for your family. Select two or three of these affirmations to support your goal-oriented affirmations.
– Post your affirmations everywhere so you can constantly see them. Visualization is powerful and it starts with seeing your affirmations so that you can say them out loud and/or in your mind at least 16 times per day. Post them on your computer monitor, on the dashboard of your car, on your bathroom mirror, etc. so that you begin to re-wire your brain in order to make positive changes in your life.
Who knows, maybe Al Franken had affirmations in his personal life while he was playing Stuart Smalley on SNL, that helped him make the leap from a TV comedy sketch actor to a United States Senator!
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach