How To Write An Affirmation That Works

By definition, affirmation is “a declaration that something is true.” And also known as “a form of prayer that focuses on a positive outcome.” So how do you write an affirmation that works?

But it is not as simple as looking in the mirror and saying “I love you, you are the greatest!” as positive psychology would have you believe.

You can look in the mirror and say “I love you, you are the greatest!” all day every day but, if you didn’t believe it, it would take forever before any changes in your self attitude were had.

An affirmation has to be believed for it to work.

Say what? Isn’t trying to change my beliefs the reason to write an affirmation in the first place? Absolutely!

“One good wish changes nothing. But one good decision changes everything. Your power to choose, to make a good decision, spells the difference between wishing and making real life changes.” ~Steve Goodier

affirmation You're worthy and amazing

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If you most of the time believed you can love yourself, then saying “I love you, you are the greatest,” would work to make you feel more confident and steady in that belief each day. But if you didn’t  believe you were lovable at all, it would remain out of touch, even if you say it a zillion times.

This is because you are jumping too fast to the new, preferred story, “I love myself” when you feel far from it. The old story, whatever it is– guilt, shame, self-blame, fear–begin to build up a case flinging disparaging thoughts at you. Their retaliation can make you feel worse. So not only do these affirmations not work, they make you feel more alone in the world, or up against too much. Then you judge yourself harshly because everyone can do it but you, leaving you feeling like a failure again at getting better.

Don’t despair! This post will help you write an affirmation that works!

The reason it is not working IS NOT YOU! There is just too big a gap from the dominate story of pain (what is known and familiar) to the preferred story of love (what is possible to know)*.

Of course you can come to counseling to help transverse it. (I now do online counseling and scheduling. Click the button over my photo.) In counseling we deconstruct that story of pain, and reconstruct a new story (i.e., of connection and relationship and of self love.)

Or you can try a Therapeutic Document

To write an affirmation that works, the problem story still has to be deconstructed. Like, with anxiety, you have break down the power of it. And then smaller, transversable steps can be taken to get from the known and familiar to what is possible to know.

First, you have to identify a belief that you want to change. For example, “I will never get better.” Or “I am unforgivable.” And think of the place you would like to get to. (This might change over time, as your perception and beliefs change.)

Then, you use a series of affirmations. Beginning with an affirmation that you can believe. For example, I you did not think you could get better, you might use. “There may be (however small and remote) a possibility I can get better even though I don’t see it right now.”  Or, if  you did not think your actions were forgivable, you can start with saying:  “It might be possible that I can forgive myself for this.”

Once that is accepted and believed you can take the affirmation one step further. This may take months or days…

“There might be a possibility that I can get better.”

“It is possible that I can forgive myself for this.”

Next,

“I may get better, I think I can get better.”

“I deserve forgiveness for this.”

Then,

“I am getting better.” or “It doesn’t have to be scary to heal.” (Tailored to the belief that you are trying to change.)

“I can forgive myself.”

Then on and on, small steps–as small as you need–or bigger when you are ready.

I always prefer to write an affirmation down at least in the beginning. Maybe it is the repetition of writing it  or seeing it.

Repetition is important when using an affirmation

Unfortunately, fear and shame, or whatever you call the emotion that dominates your pain, often speak to us all through the day. The negative voices of our past telling us that we are not good enough, not thin enough, or smart enough can be good at repeating themselves. Over and over.

So we have to match that. Say  or read affirmations at least 12 times 3 times a day. Try to feel it or picture it in your head also. For example, when I was scared of flying, I pictured myself on a plane, calm and happy. I had to feel this one for it to work.

When kids are afraid of panicking in school, their anxiety creates a “video” in their heads of them freaking out at school. I have them counter this by replacing those “videos” with pictures of themselves calm in school.

One more thing to remember: Make sure the affirmation is targeting what you need them to. Once someone wrote to me because she was afraid of going into surgery. She was doing affirmations about walking on the beach on vacation a few months after the surgery. This is great, but she was still feeling awful. I found out that she was mostly in panic about the recovery room and being numb still from the anesthesia. I reminded her to do affirmations, especially kinesthetic ones, about the recovery room: Picturing herself in the recovery room, feeling numb but being calm and at ease. She told me this shifted things majorly!

* Concepts from Lev Vygotsky and Michael White.

Over to you. What’s your first affirmation, did I miss anything? 

32 thoughts on “How To Write An Affirmation That Works”

  1. My favorite word is YET. So when that naggy little voice starts in, “You haven’t sold a book,” I add the word “yet,” as in, “True, I haven’t sold a book, YET. But I have now written more than one book, I continue to write, and I am taking many solid steps along that path to publication. It’s only a matter of time. Take that, naggy voice!”

    I think your point about targeting affirmations to the fear is an excellent one. I’ve done general affirmations and felt generally silly, sometimes. Must drill down.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted..Honeymoon Haven – or Anytime GetawayMy Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      “I can write a book” still doesn’t clear all of my chakras. There are still some limiting beliefs there for me but I am working on it! I am still at “I might be able to write a book.” is where I am at! (dangling participle- I have far to go!)

  2. Repetition is the key, Jodi! 🙂 I also find that looking in the mirror helps especially when believing is involved. And of course, writing it and keeping it in a place that’s easily visible!Lovely post.

    Much love to you!
    Vidya Sury recently posted..Happy DaysMy Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Looking in the mirror is an old tradition of Tratak. It build trust in the self and connects us with our inner light. Thanks Vidya!

  3. We have a family motto which goes like this:- “We are as good as the best and better than the rest.”

    I remember once chatting to a priest and he said “If I don’t believe in myself how can I expect people to believe in what I say.”

    There we are two pearls of wisdom for what they are worth. Which perhaps is not a lot.

    I had to smile where you put I love myself as an example, we once worked with this chap and all the rest of us thought he used to send himself a Valentines card because we reckoned nobody loved him more than he did himself!
    Robert recently posted..But what if…….?My Profile

  4. Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    I am worth living. My life will not be a failure because I am not where I want to be right now. You have to keep practicing it until it sinks it. It takes a while to overcome a lifetime of negative thoughts.

    Thanks for the post.

  5. Lisa A. McCrohan

    Yep, lovely, Jodi! I’m printing this off and sharing it with my clients. You give really sound, clear steps here. Affirmations are something that you hear tossed around a lot. But what you bring up here is really important — the problem story has to be deconstructed. It has to be named. And the affirmation has to actually be about the “tone, vibe, feeling state of what you want to shift (ie how you want your new story to be). Really lovely, Jodi. From one therapist to another– you go girl! Blessings, Lisa

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Thanks Lisa, you comment means so much! I could have gone on and on and I might make a part 2, then I think I will compile it to a pdf and make it a handout! Great idea!

  6. Well, they say ‘Fake it ’til you make it,’ Jodie. I mean, does that go out the window in this case? Folk need to know the right application for saying this. 🙂

    On the serious side, like anything else, loving is an action verb and we can, as you say, tell it to ourselves a zillion times but today, I’m from Missouri. 🙂
    totsymae1011 recently posted..Ego Trippin’My Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      I totally believe in fake it until you make it, but sometimes we get so sad about faking it, it gets in our way. So youre not ready to say you love yourself? is that what you are saying? I love you Tots!

  7. I think for affirmations to work for methey need to be specific and somewhat realistic. Sometimes some affirmations don’t to me soound realistic.

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      I agree completely! If they are doable, then we believe them and they can shift our thinking. This is what we want from them!

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      I feel those bigger plans for you. There is a growing energy witin you. I think I see it more than you do. But it is grand, my dear, very grand. xoxox

  8. I think you’ve covered it. Repetition seems to be the key. Often people forget their own inner beauty and net worth and having a reminder (written or otherwise) to fall back on can only be helpful. We have to champion ourselves, and this seems to be positive and nurturing way to do it. I have a little song I sing that kicks my backside if I find myself wallowing. Well said, Mistress Jodi.
    brenda recently posted..The Awesome DietMy Profile

  9. Affirmations are a great tool for those feeling bad about themselves or an aspect of themselves, and I like how you show such a logical way to create your own. But, I have to say, this actually also gives me a chuckle, remembering SNL’s Stuart Smalley character when he’d say, I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone It, people like me!

  10. Temilola Globalwalyy

    Hello Jodi, this is my first time of coming here, and guess what am reading an awesome post from you about affirmation..

    wonderful post and i so much agree about all what you said about Repetition

  11. Jodi, I am living proof that affirmations work! You know how petrified I was about going into that surgery. It took prayer, imagery and affirmations to get me through the process. I did exactly what you suggested and the results were incredible. I remember being alert in the procedure, not needing a sedative, and even watching the monitor as the surgeon did the debridement of my meniscus. I felt such peace as I envisioned my knee filled with positive light! I will forever be in your debt! Thank you, my friend! 🙂
    Bella recently posted..Who’s ready to take the first step?My Profile

  12. Jodi,i am new to your website. I am in love with someone deeply anc passionately. Can there be affirmation tht he loves me same?

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      You can write affirmations for your own beliefs, but not create someone else’s. He has free will. If he tells you he loves you and you are insecure, then you can do an affirmation for this. Wish I had a better answer for you! Xo

      1. I understand that he is free will but he says he likes me and yes I am insecure. What kind of affirmation will help me?

        1. I am still waiting for your reply . I am reslly confused . I really feel insecure and doubt my worthiness to have love in my life . It will be great if you help me in ths .

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