Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!
— Maya Angelou

A self-affirmation is a positive statement of how we envision our best self or some aspect of what desire in our life. Positive comments are a one-step process that creates a picture or instructions for your brain to follow. Negatives instructions require a two-step process, which involves deciding what you don’t want and then determining what to you want to do. Our brains respond best to a positive one-step clear and direct message.  These directions need to specify that you and your brain get the same message.

Self-affirmations have the power to transform our lives. Their power lies in connecting them to what is meaningful to us. They need to focus on our most important values. Many who practice self-affirmations discover that through practice, they begin to see what they desire is already present in their lives. What doesn’t work is mindlessly repeating statements in our minds without actually connecting to the meaning.  Many people find affirmations are most effective when they are accompanied by a mindfulness practice. In other words, learning how to purposely repeat them while your attention is in the present moment and with an open heart and mind.

How to Use Affirmations to Direction for Your Life

  • Affirm those aspects of your life that are truly important to you
  • Construct your affirmation. One that reflects who you are and what you desire most.
  • Make them short between 3- 6 words. You may even have several phrases that you repeat in as series as in a walking meditation.
  • Practice your affirmation only when you are in the present moment, with purpose, and feeling
  • Post your affirmation where you can see it, and it will remind you to practice.
  • Allow your affirmations to evolve. You may even have a few at any given time to be ready for those times when they are needed. For example, if you have a recurring situation that is difficult for you, you could create an affirmation to help you prepare. For example, many people have difficulty speaking in public. You could write an affirmation like, “I am ready for this presentation” or “I speak clearly” or “I speak my truth” or whatever comes from who you are.”

How to Get Started

One way to get started is to consider some of the negative statements that you say to yourself and find ways to transform them into something more positive. For example, “I am too shy” to “I have much to give to others.” Once you have determined a positive affirmation statement, follow this process.

  1. Pause and get present.
  2. Connect to your breath by taking a few cleansing inhales and exhales.
  3. On your inhale, affirm: “I AM.....”
  4. On your exhale say what is important to you or what you would like to experience.
  5. Stay with your breath a few moments longer allowing your mind and body to resonate with your affirmation.
  6. Then repeat the affirmation on the next inhale with “I AM” and on the exhale. Repeat as many times as you feel you need.
  7. Pick a time of day for this practice that works for you. It could be morning, evening, or before you begin work. You may also find it a very invigorating moment in the middle of a stressful time. Or you could think a challenging time ahead and prepare to use an affirmation to deal with that particular situation.


Creswell, David J., Dutcher, Janine M., Klein, William M. P., Harris, Peter R., Levine, John M.(2013). Self-Affirmation Improves Problem-Solving under Stress”. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5).

Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2006). The psychology of self-defense: Self-affirmation theory. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, (38),183-242). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 


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