Affirmations: Can They Change Your Brain?



This article is based on our podcast episode, Make Magic: How Affirmations Change Your Brain. Listen to the full episode here. Lately, I’ve been jazzed about the the topic of affirmations and their healing potential. Many ask if they are effective. Today, let’s explore what affirmations are and how you can use them in your everyday life.


What Are Affirmations?

According to Wikipedia, psychology affirmations can reaffirm personal values and encourage healthy self-identity by using the practice of positive thinking or prayer, which focuses on an idealistic outcome.


I find it effective to introduce affirmations to clients who are trying to change old belief systems and their energetic programming, or what they give their attention and focus to.


In my psychic coaching sessions, I use affirmations to combat the nauseating cycle that can come with having awareness about something in our life that's not working, but feeling unable to change it.


When you struggle to move out “old” parts of yourself, it feels impossible to make lasting changes in your bigger goals. It can be really frustrating to know what you want to bring into your life, but not feel you are moving forward in your efforts. You may even begin to doubt that it’s possible, leaving you with a sense of powerlessness and ultimately grief or guilt that you're doing something wrong.



Is Life Weighing You Down?

A couple of years ago, I was doing psychic coaching with a man (let’s call him Charlie) who was going through some very difficult life challenges in terms of relationships, career, and family heartache.


I could see how driven he was and how he wanted to change his life. Even with his efforts, he still felt like there was a metaphorical rock weighing him down from moving forward. This rock came with a very negative view of himself that he was really frustrated with.


When I asked him if he believed in himself, Charlie replied, “Yes. I see this great future ahead. I'm very frustrated with this negative energy. When doubt sometimes creeps in, I don’t know how to move it out of my life.”


Although he felt positive looking towards the future, he still had an antagonistic voice playing on repeat in the background that he couldn’t seem to shake.



Becoming Aware

Positive, negative, motivational drill sergeants - these are examples of the different “voices” or modalities competing for our attention inside of us.


If you want to break down the beliefs in your psyche to heal, you’ll want to get more aware of who you are at your core. This will identify where the struggles come in when you're feeling on opposite sides of the spectrum.


Consider your internal drill sergeant. It may try to motivate us, but this voice can also be simultaneously degrading, dismissive, or lacking compassion. It might even be downright mean. It is typically the voice that is loud, speaks fast and is not open to other perspectives. For most of us, it is the voice that loves to hog the microphone.


Personally, I have currently downgraded my sarge to an overly vocal and zealous tee-ball coach. I'm more able to laugh at his antics when he is putting far too much pressure on the chipper, five-year-old self part of me that comes out when I'm trying to learn something new. Rather than letting me have fun without judgement, he comes in with far too much pressure and intensity. And I've learned to recognize his voice so easily that I can separate myself from it. This small shift helps me view myself with more compassion and realize how unnecessary the aggressive voice is for the situation (and most) at hand.


Sometimes reframing the different voices in our space is important. Where did they come from? Do they remind you of certain family members, friends, teachers? By focusing on each voice and getting to know it more clearly - tone, cadence, pitch, verbs, nouns - we get a clearer understanding of where the beliefs come from, and whom.



Intimately Understand Your Psyche

How your inner voice is speaking to you will feed a particular way of thinking, or a neural pathway in your brain, thus creating your reality through these beliefs.


For instance, when I was working with Charlie, we discussed his inner Tigger. Yes, we are using a Winnie the Pooh metaphor for this.


Charlie could definitely feel this positive part of himself in his mental space, but, he struggled with the melancholy, doubting Eeyore voice that seemed to show up alongside the peppy, upbeat Tigger. This was frustrating to Charlie because he wanted to outgrow his Eeyore voice. It didn't feel helpful to him anymore.


I invited Charlie to close his eyes while I guided him in having a conversation between these two parts so he could really listen to each side's beliefs.



Take A Neutral Position And Listen

If you're making changes in your life, but you're struggling with internal polarity, try this out. You can close your eyes right now or you can take some time after this. Imagine yourself in a really beautiful room that you're inspired by. It could be a library, tea house, a treehouse, or a room filled with pillows and blankets with big, stained glass windows and lots of plants. You name it. Sometimes I imagine a closed courtyard with a fountain and everything covered in vines and ivy.

The next step is for you to imagine yourself, with dignity and respect, setting out two chairs for each opposing part of you to sit in. Lovingly ask both of these parts to sit down and offer them some tea and snacks.


Now, you sit in the middle and ask each part questions such as, "What is your frame of mind here? What are you trying to protect me from with your beliefs? What are your core beliefs? How are you trying to be helpful? Where did you come from in my life and at what age?"


Take the role of a moderator or a referee in order to get clear on how these parts of yourself seem to be clashing. Evaluate them with respect and neutrality while paying attention to the answers. The goal is to hear and understand the core belief of each part.


Most of our beliefs come from past experiences that sometimes come forward in our minds, even when we've outgrown them. The first step is really hearing what those thoughts or voices have to say so you can see where they originated.



Where Affirmations Come In

Most of us have a myriad of things we would like to shift in our lives, but we struggle to find the methods and ways to do it when there are parts of ourselves that are not 100% on board. There are usually core beliefs sitting behind our own resistances to taking big steps towards what we really want (that secretly feel unsettled or anxious about not being enough). This is where the power of affirmation comes in.


By saying something new to yourself, you build a brand new neural pathway. You don’t even have to believe it at first because, when you say it repeatedly to yourself, you will grow into it.


There are dozens of clients I have worked with that are using this strategy to change their lives. Little by little, thought by thought, they build a stronger and stronger pathway (thought pattern) that gathers more strength and weight. You change your entire mindset. You start doing better things. As my clients create new thoughts, old feelings and beliefs start coming to the surface as they're detoxing their mentality.


If this happens to you, don’t get distraught or confused. It is natural. You’re not doing it wrong. When we push old feelings and thoughts down, and then stop pushing them down, they rise. And we wave goodbye to them and let them go. Lean into the process knowing that straying away from what we've always known may give you some anxiety or fear.


Affirmations are the small steps to change.


Each time you repeat an affirmation, it equals one step away from something old as you move towards something new. It might feel ridiculous, inauthentic, and even completely foreign. If you take a moment and consider how you’d like to feel, your authentic “soul truth” will reveal itself.


Repetition makes the change happen over time.


By getting in that vibe, frequency, and energy of doing something over and over again, your awareness will feed the new pathway and overwrite your now “old” way of thinking. This is how we transition and transfer into a new way of thinking.



The Power Of Affirmations

You can get playful with how you want to reaffirm a new belief. One time, I taped an affirmation to the top of my steering wheel so I had to read it between all my in-home therapy appointments. Sometimes I got in and out of my car 10-15 times a day, so I had to read it every time I got behind the wheel.


You can write it down and put it in your shoes. Ask family members to hide it all over the house.


Coffee addict? Put it on your coffee pot. Phone addict? Set it as your wallpaper. Make it a game.


If you want to change something in your life, find a way to bring it front-of-mind so you can be aware of it. Every single time you read it, you will strengthen your belief and connection to it.

Our brain chemistry begins to change when we feed it certain thoughts. Our body will also adapt because it adapts to what we think about ourselves. Affirmations allow us to change our brain chemistry and shift our mind-body connection.


Get really clear on the life you'd like to create and put that thought where you can see and repeat it. This affirmation or mantra will positively impact your life. You’ll feel your frequency shift and ultimately help you manifest what you want in the world.



Conclusion

If you would like more personal, one-on-one help with trying to figure out how to flip some of that fear in your system, I invite you to book a soul wellness coaching session or a psychic reading with me. For deeper emotional work, check out my soul psychotherapy services. I am absolutely here to help you shift your space to help you manifest what you want.


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