What do you do when you’re in a stressful moment? When you’re anxious about giving a presentation, or your friends hang out without inviting you, or you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see? What about when bad things happen, or you make a mistake, or you doubt whether or not you’re good enough to have all that you want? Some people cope with stress and anxiety with a yoga flow, a Netflix show, or a sleeve of Oreos. While I still resort back to all those coping mechanisms here and there (healthy or not), the one thing I always have with me is an affirmation.
Technically, everyone has an affirmation, whether they’re aware of it or not — it’s that one phrase you hear in your head over and over or tell yourself repeatedly. Some lucky people have great mantras: I’m awesome. What a beautiful day outside. I love my life. And then there are the affirmations that many of us are plagued by: I’m not as pretty. I’m not good enough. What if something goes wrong? Many of us hear these phrases in our heads so often that we believe them. So what if we could replace these thoughts with phrases that are not only better for us, but can help us be confident, feel less stressed, and live our best lives? The secret to achieving your best self might just be an affirmation away…
What is an “affirmation?”
I first learning about the idea of an affirmation from learning about mantras. The term “mantra” is an ancient Sanskrit term, used in Hindusim and Buddhism to mean a phrase that was repeated frequently in meditation. Nowadays, everyone from yogis to modern psychologists are relaying back to the ancient technique as a powerful therapy tool in the form of personal affirmations. Neurologically, affirmation training can reduce distractions and calm the mind. It’s also been proven to reduce stress because repetition and focus regulate chemicals in the brain, releasing endorphins and blocking stress hormones like cortisol.
Beyond just the physical benefits, an affirmation puts you in a more positive mindset, and the repetitive nature trains your brain overtime. In other words, remember those negative thoughts? With affirmations, they can be a thing of the past because you’ll naturally think more positively.
Affirmations can be repeated as a tool for focus during meditation like mantras, used as a tiny, consistent reminder throughout the day, or looked to when you’re in a moment of anxiety, stress, or lack of confidence. The goal is to find the affirmation that clicks for you; the one that just makes sense. It’s the phrase you need to hear, and the repetition to allow you to actually hear it.
Here are the affirmations that have changed my mindset, confidence, and life. Memorize the one that clicks with you, write them down and tape them to your wall, or copy them in your phone notes to look to whenever you need it. Get ready for your most powerful, confident, passionate, and best self, yet:
1. “I am enough.”
This is the reminder we all could probably use every now and then. It’s human nature to think we could be better, or there’s always someone better than us — it’s what drives competition and keeps us pushing ourselves to be better. But sometimes, that pushing becomes a lack of appreciation for who we are now, causing insecurity and self-doubt. Use this affirmation when you’re worried about being liked, struggling with insecurity, meeting new people, or entering a new job. Remind yourself that you are pretty great, just the way you are.
2. “I am ready to be healed.”
Use this affirmation when you’ve been having a particularly hard time and you’re ready to move on, or need help moving on. It’s so easy to get into a funk because we’re going through a hard time — maybe we lost our job, went through a breakup, or have just been feeling sad with winter blues. While grieving and downtime is important, and emotions should never be ignored, this funk can turn into a vicious cycle of self-pity and wallowing. The first step of moving on and feeling better is to acknowledge that it’s time to be healed and it’s ok to be healed. You’ll start to subconsciously seek out your own healing.
3. “I am discovering my inner superstar.”
There is an inner “superstar” in all of us, even when we don’t think there is. I call it “superstar” because the word makes me smile, but you might call it your best self, your true self, or your own hero. Use this affirmation when you need some extra motivation and inspiration to achieve your goals, and to believe in yourself. The wording of this affirmation is particularly nonjudgmental. Rather than expecting yourself to achieve greater things (and the possibility of feeling disappointed or unconfident if you don’t achieve them), you’re acknowledging that you’re in the process of discovering your best self, without expectation or judgment.
4. “I return my body to optimal health by giving it what it needs on every level.”
Use this affirmation when you want to resist the box of donuts at the office, or you know your body needs to be (and deserves to be) healthier. Rather than forcing yourself to eat healthy or exercise for vanity reasons, this sentence allows you to reflect on what your body actually wants and needs, whether that means having that piece of chocolate or adding in some leafy greens, or sleeping in and taking a rest day versus getting up before work to go to the gym. Remind yourself to listen to your body and act for the sake of nourishing it.
5. “I am open and receptive to all good.”
When you seek the good, you won’t notice as much bad. The issues you run into in your everyday life, like your train being late or your internet running slow, won’t feel so bad. Use this affirmation when you need an extra boost of optimism. Train yourself to be a glass-half-full kinda girl by repeating this sentence whenever you start to complain or notice a negative thought. There’s so much good, whether it’s in a situation, a setting, or in a person. We just have to allow ourselves to be open to it.
6. “Today is about pleasure. I am living this day for the sole purpose of enjoying it.”
What if you lived as if the purpose was to enjoy — not just to check items off your to-do list or just get through the work day until 5pm? Use this affirmation when you notice you’ve just been going through the motions instead of living. Notice and value indulgences that truly make you happy — a new candle, a long hot bath, a bouquet of flowers you picked up on the way home from work. Fit small pleasurable activities into your day, and when something stresses you out like a tough deadline or a boss in a bad mood, remember that this day is for you to enjoy, and don’t let little problems bother you like they normally would.
7. “Stop making people wrong.”
You know the times when you’re in a fight and you just feel so annoyed, or sad, or angry? Maybe your roommate is annoying you about doing the dishes, or your kids are making you mad by not picking up their toys? Use this affirmation when you’re in one of those times. If your mom missed an important event, your best friend has been too busy for you, or your significant other said something you don’t agree with, remind yourself to think about the other’s perspective. Be compassionate to their point of view and voice your feelings with the understanding that your loved ones don’t mean to make you feel bad. Remember that how the incident affects your relationship is not based on their actions, but the way you take them. Seek the right in the people you love instead of making them wrong.
8. “Be the person who feels like sunshine.”
Use this affirmation when you’re in a social setting you don’t feel confident in. It might be tempting to be the girl that acts too-cool-for-school, or make jokes to get laughs (even if it’s at the expense of others). When we’re not feeling confident, these are easy defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from being disliked. But this affirmation reminds me that what people actually like to be around is someone who exudes kindness, and is warm and happy — someone who feels like sunshine. Besides, what if your main purpose was to lift others up? Give them compliments, make them laugh, help out when you see they need it — how much happier would you be?
9. “I give myself permission to be ok where I am. I know that I am doing my best.”
We’re always thinking towards the next goal, always feeling behind or focused on the future so much that we don’t feel good about the present. It’s not often that we actually let ourselves be ok with where we are in our lives, knowing that it is exactly where we are meant to be and all good things will come. Use this affirmation when you’re feeling anxious about the future.
10. “I am seeking contentment, not perfection.”
Use this affirmation if you can be too much of a perfectionist. From the outside perspective, no one would expect me to call myself a “perfectionist” — I can be messy, my right brain is way more dominant than my left, and I’m a Libra (a social, charming, romance-obsessed sign — not a perfectionist). And yet, I find myself rewriting articles because they never feel good enough, obsessing over my hair when it’s not curling the way I’d hoped, or feeling anxious and stressed when something didn’t go the way I pictured. Sound familiar? Remind yourself that the goal in life is not for everything to be, look, and seem perfect. The goal, instead, is to be happy. It makes all the little things I worry about seem insignificant.
11. “I trust that I, and only I, know what’s best for me.”
We can so often be completely plagued by self-doubt, especially when we’re making huge choices like college decisions, getting into a relationship, moving cities, or which job to take. Oftentimes, we want validation because we don’t listen to the gut instinct, or maybe can’t hear it at all. Use this affirmation when you’re making big life decisions. Listen for your gut reaction, and trust that you don’t need to listen to or seek out anyone else’s opinion because the answers to even your biggest life questions is something only you can know.
12. “Don’t go in your mind where your body is not”
Are you a worrier, or, like me, a constant worrier? Do you overthink whether or not your friends took your joke the wrong way, if your boss won’t like the work you did, or how a (perfectly normal) doctors appointment will go? Me too. Many of us torture ourselves by thinking about what might happen, we often forget to focus on what is actually happening. This saying helps me remember I’m making up the worry in my mind, and I need to work on being present to what’s happening in the here and now. Use this affirmation when you’re worrying about something.
13. “All is well.”
Though simple, this powerful affirmation serves as a constant reminder that everything is okay and will be okay. Repeat this sentence to yourself when you’re feeling anxious. Anxiety happens because you’re constantly telling yourself that something negative is happening, and your mind starts to believe it. Counteract that anxious voice by giving yourself peace of mind.
14. “I surround myself with those who make me better.”
Have you ever heard that study that says we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with? It’s an important study and makes a lot of sense — when you spend a lot of time with someone, you can adopt their mannerisms, their habits, and even their morals. Do you want to be like the 5 people you spend the most time with? Or is it time for a change? Use this affirmation when you’re dealing with a toxic friendship or jealous coworker, and to remind yourself you have control over who you let affect you.