Positive Affirmations

They say words have the power to shape our reality and give rise to a brighter future. Although it’s obvious we shouldn’t take this idea literally, many believe positive affirmations can change our perspective and motivate us to achieve our goals.

In recent years, researchers have taken a keen interest in this concept as a potential strategy for boosting motivation and cultivating a success-oriented mindset. For example, studies indicate positive self-talk can act as a buffer against negative emotions [1] and empower children to achieve academic success. [2]

But what exactly are positive affirmations and how do they work?

What Are Positive Affirmations?

In simple terms, a positive affirmation is a phrase that holds profound meaning and can push us to make significant changes and pursue our goals.

Positive affirmations can replace the limiting and negative beliefs that often hold us back from pursuing our dreams and help us cultivate a healthy, happy, and abundant life.

In a way, a positive affirmation is like a prayer; a message we repeat to ourselves whenever we need that extra push to overcome life’s adversities. However, there’s absolutely nothing spiritual or ‘superhuman’ about positive self-talk.

What Positive Affirmations Are Not

When it comes to positive affirmations, there are a lot of misconceptions that circulate on the web. As a result, some of us end up believing affirmations are some sort of ‘mystical’ or spiritual practice that only the enlightened ones can benefit from.

Let’s debunk two of the most common myths about positive affirmations.

Blind Optimism

There are some who believe positive affirmations are nothing more than blind optimism. In other words, we use affirmations to ‘force’ ourselves into thinking life is beautiful and the future is bright.

Having a positive inner dialogue doesn’t mean you overlook the less pleasant aspects of life. It just means to welcome challenges and adversities with a positive mindset that allows you to overcome them.


Despite the significant body of scientific evidence that suggests positive affirmations lead to improved motivation, health, and happiness, some insist this approach is nothing more than self-deception.

But positive self-talk is not about tricking yourself into believing things are different than what they are. Positive affirmations are merely words of encouragement that keep you from giving up when life has thrown you a curveball.

Positive vs. Negative Self Talk

As I mentioned before, your inner dialogue can dictate the way you feel about yourself, others, and the world in general. In other words, the beliefs you hold as true and the messages you repeat yourself can elicit emotions and behaviors.

In fact, this ‘philosophy’ represents the foundation of cognitive-behavioral therapy, an approach that aims to help people reduce negative emotions while cultivating positive ones.

By rephrasing your inner dialogue in a more positive tone, you will gain the motivation you need to overcome whatever’s holding you back from living a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.

What Are Positive Affirmations Good For?

Positive affirmations can have a tremendously positive impact on your personal and professional life. Aside from boosting your motivation and improving your overall perspective on life, positive self-talk can also help you deal with more specific problems.

Stress Management

Stress represents one of the most significant problems of our century. The hypercompetitive work environment; the never-ending list of house chores; and the pressure of being the best at everything can take its toll on your overall health.

But how come some people manage to cope with everyday stress while others find it impossible to handle it?

Once again, it all comes down to how we interpret life events; what we tell ourselves about the challenges that may generate stress will inevitably influence our attitude and coping abilities.

Symptom Management

Regardless of the condition you might be dealing it with – be it a medical condition or emotional problem – it never hurts to change your attitude towards the issue you’re dealing with.

For example, you can pick up a fresh piece of paper and write down a set of positive affirmations that will help you accept your condition and also motivate you to do whatever it takes to overcome it.

Positive self-talk is clearly not the miracle cure, but it can help you cope with your condition better. And when you’re struggling with something serious, every bit of help counts.

Get Started Improving Your Inner Dialogue

Start Small

The first step in changing your inner dialogue and adopting a more positive perspective on life is realizing that this process requires a baby-steps approach.

In other words, you can’t just repeat “I’m strong and brave” a couple of times and expect to change your attitude overnight.

Through discipline and patience, you will eventually develop a more positive outlook on things. 

Identify Negative Thoughts

To develop a positive inner voice, first you need to identify the negative and dysfunctional thoughts that fuel your grim perspective on life.

What do you tell yourself when things don’t go according to plan? How do you cope with challenges? What is your overall perspective on life?

If you dig deeper, you might discover that your negative thoughts are the result of dysfunctional parenting styles. [3]

Identify Positive New Thoughts

Is there a way to perceive yourself, others, and the world in a better light? What can you tell yourself to avoid being entirely absorbed by the negative side of things?

Positive thoughts represent the foundation of a positive mindset. Take a good look at your current life and write down a list of affirmations that highlight positive aspects of your personal, professional, and social life.

Make it Believable

Since you don’t want to rely on blind optimism or self-deception, make sure to add a drop of reason to your positive self-talk.

For example, “I have the motivation and skills to achieve my goals” Is reasonable and believable; “I have the power to achieve anything” isn’t.

Get Inspiration from Others

If you find it difficult to see the bright side of things, perhaps an excellent way to adjust your perspective is by talking to other people. Ask them to help you come up with a list of positive affirmations that will change your views.

In fact, you can even start spending more time with people who cheer you up and help you approach life with optimism and hope.

Practice Daily

In the end, developing a positive inner dialogue relies on your willingness to identify your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones that help you see reality from a different perspective.

That means you’ll have to practice your positive affirmations on a daily basis and challenge every irrational thought that may push you back into your old thinking patterns.

Meta description: Positive affirmations are neither ‘magical’ nor irrational. They merely express a desire to make positive changes that impact our emotions, decisions, and actions.


[1] Z. Reyes, E. Eusebio, S. Wagner, F. Du, A. Tan, M. Tannler and S. Hee Yoo, “Positive Self-Talk During Conversations: A Buffer Against Negative Emotions,” San Francisco, 2015.

[2] J. Szente, “Empowering Young Children for Success in School and in Life,” Early Childhood Education Journal, vol. 34, no. 6, p. 449–453, 2007.

[3] G. L. Jantz, “The Power of Positive Self-Talk,” Psychology Today, 16 May 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-relationships/201605/the-power-positive-self-talk.

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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