Before you roll your eyes, quickly scroll to the next post and grumble “ugh, not another unicorns and rainbows positivity piece, I will positively puke”, I’m here to tell you that this will be a different take on affirmations, focusing on the neuroscience behind the new-age practice, and why you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about yourself from your own brain.Believe me, I used to be the biggest sceptic when it came to positive psychology – “life doesn’t work like that” I would muse, knowingly. I’ve had my fair share of bad luck, bad genes, and a healthy dose of anxiety, which means I tend to always view the worst case scenario as the most likely. But after many years of meditation, mindfulness practice, and good old-fashioned therapy (as well as some coaching of my own), my views have shifted, and I’m here to explain why so that you can harness the power of positive affirmations to effect transformation in your own life.
First, The Bad NewsOur brains evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago with a bias towards negativity. This tendency protected us from being eaten by saber-toothed tigers and generally kept us in a constant state of vigilance, yet alive. Since it was important, evolutionarily, to pay attention to negative stimuli and react accordingly, this trait has stuck around and we tend to remember negative things more than positive ones – just like the one wrong answer you got on the test, or that one guy who dumped you unceremoniously. But does this mean we need to stay in cavewoman survival mode and let negativity determine our decisions? Nope. The unique thing about the human brain is its capacity for change and flexibility, or neuroplasticity – it’s more like Play-Doh than granite, and you can consciously influence the way your mind works.
Enter AffirmationsWhat are affirmations? They are quite simply, positive statements that are used to influence the brain to take on a more optimistic outlook on life. We know that the brain is like a muscle in a sense, and the more you strengthen certain pathways, the stronger they become – so if you are constantly obsessing over your shortcomings and negative thoughts about yourself, you will flex that muscle and it will become your default way of being in the world.