How to Use Affirmations: The Ultimate Guide (The Naysayers are Wrong)
This ultimate guide shows you how to use affirmations for success, money, and happiness. It shows you how to use affirmations to play the mental game toward your advantage. Affirmations are a key tool to help you change results in all aspects of your life.
“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.” – Richard Bach
Affirmations Guide Contents
Quick jump to article sections with these links.
Table of Contents
- 1 Do subconscious beliefs drive my behavior and results?
- 2 What are affirmations?
- 3 What can affirmations help me accomplish?
- 4 What research says about how to use affirmations
- 5 What successful and famous people say about how to use affirmations
- 6 How to use affirmations to make more money, have more happiness, and be more successful
- 7 How do I write great affirmations?
- 8 How should I use affirmations?
- 9 What are some examples of great affirmations?
- 10 The 3 top books on affirmations
- 11 How should I get started with affirmations?
- 12 Related
Absolutely! All of us have a mindset or preconception about how the world works, what we are worth, and how we fit in. This preconception drives much of our behavior as we work to conform to this preconception. Therefore, changing your preconception will change your behavior and therefore your results. After all, your current situation is the result of all previous actions, decisions, and beliefs you have had.
Affirmations allow you to change your mind’s beliefs. They are simple messages you repeat to yourself, and over time, recondition your fundamental, subconscious thinking about yourself and your capabilities.
“Confront old conditioning. It leads to unconscious behavior….Examine your core beliefs. Hold them up to the light and discard beliefs that make you stuck. … Your brain must become your ally. If it does not, it will remain your adversary” – Depak Chopka, MD, and Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, Super Brain
Advertisers use affirmations on you
If you don’t believe affirmations are real or effective, look no further than the advertising industry. Affirmations are literally the cornerstone of advertising.
The advertising industry in the US is a $100B industry (statista.com). Their core tool is repetitive messaging to drive your behavior in their favor.
Why not use the same methodology to shape your mind the way you want to shape it? Drive your subconscious behavior toward achieving what you want with affirmations.
Everyone knows the company McDonald’s, yet they continue to advertise constantly. Why? This repetitive messaging will, given enough time, change your behavior and trigger most people to make purchases at McDonald’s.
This is the power of affirmations and you need to begin using it on yourself to create your own story!
How have affirmations shaped your mind?
You have been receiving messaging about how things should be your entire life. Growing up, this was likely your parents, teachers, your community, and other influential people. Studies have shown students regularly work to achieve the expectations of teachers–this is mental shaping in action!
As you grow, your friends, environment, coworkers, and the media heavily influence your beliefs. Who is shaping your mind now? Are you watching hours of commercials every day and letting others build your sense of self?
If you want to improve your life, you must get in the driver’s seat.
Have you ever noticed confident people are successful and get what they want? This is because they naturally define their own self-image and don’t allow the beliefs and expectations of others to determine their limits and beliefs. Confident people self-affirm their own beliefs and therefore achieve greatness. This good news is that this is all learnable.
“If I’ve learned anything in life, it is that if you believe something is possible, you tend to focus on the constructive means necessary to make that possibility a reality. I’ve also learned to believe the opposite. If you don’t think something is possible, then you will be blinded to the ways it could be done. It’s like a self-imposed blind spot.” – Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty International – The Millionaire Real Estate Agent
What are affirmations?
Affirmations are simple, memorable, statements that you read and/or listen to multiple times per day. The goal is to begin believing whatever it is the affirmations tell you. Affirmations are nothing more than advertisements you run for yourself.
Simply put, you write short sentences that challenge the way you currently think and perceive the world. As you repeatedly read these sentences, you begin to alter your perceptions. This change in perception then translates into a change in your real-world results. That is fundamentally how to use affirmations.
For example, if you believe your $20,000 per year salary is normal and that a $100,000 per year salary is unachievable, you need an affirmation. The affirmation will be one component of your metamorphosis from a $20k earner to a six-figure earner.
Affirmations allow you to replace doubtful, negative, or uncertain, “this is normal,” and “can’t do” thoughts and replace them with positive, affirmative, “that can be my normal,” and “can do” thoughts.
Since you are molding your mind, you want to do it effectively and properly! This article shows you how to build affirmations properly.
“Change your self-talk and your comfort zone by affirmations. Bombard your subconscious mind with new thoughts and images. In each area of life, create at least one affirmation.” – Jack Canfield, The Success Principles
Affirmations are part of a broader self-improvement plan, but their goal is to ensure your subconscious is helping you toward your goals, rather than being an inhibitor. As you think about how to use affirmations, you should consider writing them for each major part of your life, including:
Including such items as weight, strength, cardiovascular fitness, and more. I am healthy, ripped, stress-free, and always young.
Including earnings, net worth, streams of income, effort to earn, and more. Money comes to me often and easily, giving me the freedom to live life however I want.
Including how you want to spend time with your family, friends, and coworkers. What does your ideal relationship look like? I enjoy spending every day with my incredibly beautiful spouse and children. Together, we are full of life and joy.
Career and Creative Affirmations
Including what you want to achieve in your career, how hard you have to work for it, and what you need to get there. I am action oriented, turning ideas into measurable results quickly and often. I realize this outstanding success while enjoying a balanced life.
Including how you can benefit your community, how you can increase your contributions and relationships, and more. I only think positive thoughts about those around me, and assume the best intentions. I give of myself to the benefit of another at least once per day.
As mentioned above, affirmations are the basic component of the $100 billion advertising industry in the US. You can readily attest to the effect advertising has on yourself and others. Advertising is not just about product awareness–it is about repetitive messaging to change your behavior.
If you’ve read to this point and still aren’t convinced, you can check out Yale’s publication on The Unconscious Mind.
“This research has demonstrated the existence of several independent nconscious behavioral guidance systems: perceptual, evaluative, and motivational. From this perspective, it is concluded that in both phylogeny and ontogeny, actions of an unconscious mind precede the arrival of a conscious mind—that action precedes reflection.” – Yale research
As published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychological Science, the actual effects of affirmations are real and measurable, albeit the mechanism is not yet understood.
“Although we know that self-affirmation reduces threat and improves performance, we know very little about why this happens. And we know almost nothing about the neural correlates of this effect,” says lead researcher Lisa Legault of Clarkson University.
While it’s certainly a stretch to say all successful people use affirmations, there are plenty that credit affirmative beliefs and affirmations as a key component of their success, particularly as they transitioned from rough times to hitting it big.
Jim Carrey utilized affirmations to help him through rough times.
“I am a really good actor. I have all kinds of great movie offers. Movie offers are out there for me, I just don’t hear them yet.”
Oprah Winfrey regularly discusses her use of affirmations.
“If you believe you can only go so far, it is an obstacle.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly discusses how to use affirmation and how they have helped him have successful bodybuilding, film, and political careers.
“The more I focused in on this image and worked and grew, the more I saw it was real and possible for me to be like him.”
“It’s the same process I used in bodybuilding,” he explained. “What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that picture as if it were already true.”
“I’m going to be the number-one box-office star in all of Hollywood.”
Henry Ford is famous for surrounding himself with people who used mental tricks.
“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
Alex Noble recognizes success is a process that includes affirmations.
“Success is a process, a quality of mind and way of being, an outgoing affirmation of life.”
Napoleon Hill spent two decades studying the 500 most successful people in the world, and determined the mental game, including affirmations, was the key to success.
“Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.”
“Here is a most significant fact—the subconscious mind takes any orders given it in a spirit of absolute FAITH, and acts upon those orders, although the orders often have to be presented over and over again, through repetition, before they are interpreted by the subconscious mind.”
W. Clement Stone taught many, including Jack Canfield about affirmations.
“Self-suggestion makes you master of yourself.”
Dr Maxwell Maltz details how affirmations integrate with behavior.
“This same creative mechanism within you can help you achieve your best possible “self” if you will form a picture in your imagination of the self you want to be and “see yourself” in the new role.”
Will Smith has many videos on how he uses affirmations, which include this great quote.
“The first step is you have to say that you can. Believing in yourself is the first step to accomplishing any goal. If you think you’re going to fail, you probably will.”
What if you have a goal to have 10% body fat, but your family is all overweight? If you believe being overweight is in your genes, that is a limiting belief (albeit inaccurate) that will prevent from achieving your goal.
Similarly, what if you want to make $300,000 per year, but you don’t have a college degree? If you believe you need a degree to achieve that sort of salary, you have a limiting, inaccurate belief that will hinder you from achieving your goal.
Therefore, your job is to identify what beliefs are keeping you from accomplishing what you want in life. You then create affirmations directly tackling those beliefs. Since your mind is at the root of everything you do, affirmations can help you change results in an aspect of your life.
1. Think about your goals in life
For each goal, what belief keeps you from taking action today? What belief keeps you from making your goal much, much bigger? Focus on this belief. We want to change it! e.g. I cannot make a lot of money without working excessively. Or I cannot have a successful marriage and a highly successful career.
If you don’t feel you have a belief holding you back from achieving a goal in a particular area of life, go ahead and jot down a measurable goal. But if you’re not taking action on the goal, dig deeper and create an affirmation to get the ball rolling.
2. Identify negative self-images
Alternatively, identify negative self-images or negative thoughts you have about yourself. e.g. I am overweight. Or Nobody at work respects my opinion. Or I didn’t graduate from college, so I cannot earn six figures.
3. Define how you want the world to work
Now, turn your belief on its head and define how you want the world to work. For example, I can make a lot of money without working excessively. Or I can have a successful marriage and a highly successful career. Or I am beautiful and at a perfect, healthy weight.Or People at work highly respect my opinions. Or there are plenty of people before me who did not have a college degree yet become multi-millionaires.
4. Start your affirmation with “I am…”
Affirmations are about altering your beliefs; you are in charge of yourself. Do not try to change someone else. If there is someone blocking what you want in life, ask yourself why you are allowing that person to be a roadblock in your life. Address the belief behind this.
5. You are in charge–no limits!
Do not limit yourself. The world is open. You say how the world works. Don’t think your affirmation is ridiculous. Also, keep it open-ended by adding words like “or better.” I am making $500,000 or better this year.
6. BUT, ramp up. Affirmations should be big, but believable.
Affirmations should push you out of your comfort zone but should be believable. To get to a very large goal, you can progressively grow your affirmations as you take steps toward your goal. If you are in debt now and want to become a millionaire, perhaps your first affirmation should be focused on how great you’ll feel once you have a positive net worth. Once this is accomplished, start ratcheting up your belief of the sort of net worth you will achieve. Gaining momentum is critical to a successful plan.
6. Positive wording = positive results from affirmations
The wording should be positive rather than negative. Positive thoughts and attitudes lead to success and opportunity.
7. Add emotion and feeling words to your affirmations
When you add emotional triggers, your affirmations will be more memorable, more fun to read, and will work with your mind on a deeper level. Think about effective advertisements. They are catchy, easy to remember, and fun–the classic jingle.
8. Do your research to enhance your belief
Chances are someone else has come from your circumstance and achieved the result you want. Do you want to be a millionaire, but have recently declared bankruptcy? Read about people who have already been there and done that. This will prove to you it is possible. Now you just need to tell yourself it is possible for you too.
9. Consolidate everything into a sentence or two
Now that you have your thoughts together, handwrite your affirmation in a single sentence or two. Something you can easily read to yourself with regularity.
Now that you have a few affirmations written out, it’s time to put them into practice. The best, most fundamental way to go about it is to write your affirmations on note cards. You can keep your postcards in your pocket, near your bed, and even post them on the wall of your office.
You may also put them on your phone, as pictures, notes, a widget, or even the background. On your computer, you can put them as your screen saver.
Should I listen to my affirmations?
Absolutely. I find this very effective. I simply record my affirmations and play them back while I’m driving or in the morning. Hearing ties closely to memory, so this can be a very effective as either the primary way of consuming your affirmations or a supplementary way.
Should I visualize my affirmations?
As with advertisements, print, audio, and video are all effective for different reasons. With affirmations, you can do the multi-media approach by utilizing the theater of the mind and visualizing the world as it would be when your affirmations are true. Visualization is a complex task which is worthy of its own detailed look. For more, you can read our article on how to use visualization to achieve your goals.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, here are some excellent examples of affirmations by Jack Canfield and The Success Principles and How to Turn Limp Affirmations Into Mantras for Success. Both are great resources on how to use affirmations.
“I am effectively communicating my needs and desires with my wife.”
“I am celebrating feeling light and alive at my perfect body weight of thirty-five.”
“I am enjoying watching the sunset from the lanai of my beautiful beachfront condo on the Ka’anapali coast of Maui.”
“I am enjoying driving my new red Porsche 911 Carrera.”
“I am lovingly supporting my children and encourage them to fully express their unique talents and gifts.”
“I am joyfully celebrating my graduation from college with a master’s degree.”
“I am effectively delivering my first talk to an audience of over 1,000 people who affirm my message with a standing ovation.”
“I am confidently checking the balance of my bank account as I make a deposit of $1,000,000.”
- Psycho Cybernetics by Dr Maxwell Maltz. If you want to know the real deal behind your mind’s power and the capabilities of affirmations, there is no better resource. Written by a doctor and based on his field research, this book provides a fantastic grounding in affirmations and the mental game.
- Super Brain by Rudolph E. Tanzi Ph.D. and Deepak Chopra. This book provides an outstanding look from the perspective of a Harvard Medical School Professor into the power of the mind. It will show you how to use your mind to achieve health, happiness, and spiritual growth.
- The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Whereas the first two books provide a lot of detail on the why and how of affirmations, The Success Principles cuts to the chase and shows you how to implement and use affirmations very effectively as part of a broader self-improvement plan.
You have all of the information you need on how to use affirmations! Grab a piece of paper. Think about where you want to be in life. Write out a few affirmative thoughts. Revisit them and revise them.
We also provide a free tool to help you write one affirmation for each area of your life. Those affirmations are then emailed to you daily so that you can be reminded to review them on a regular basis.
And read how I used affirmations as one of many tools to transform my life in Leave the Grind Behind.