Positive Daily Affirmations: Is There Science Behind It?

positive daily affirmations
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Self-help books often promote the power of positive affirmations.

You, me, and almost everybody in the 21st century have heard of them. But if you’ve never tried them before, the idea can seem incredibly awkward.

Telling yourself how awesome you are can seem bizarre, but if that’s all you’re doing, there are probably more effective ways to go about it. And if you’re a skeptic, it doesn’t hurt to understand how and why positive affirmations became so popular.

And yes, there is genuine theory and a fair amount of neuroscience behind this practice. Let’s have a look!

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Mindfulness Exercises for free. These science-based, comprehensive exercises will not only help you cultivate a sense of inner peace throughout your daily life but will also give you the tools to enhance the mindfulness of your clients, students or employees.

You can download the free PDF here.

What are Positive Affirmations? A Definition

Fortunately, positive affirmations are almost as easy to define as they are to practice. Put simply, they are positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts.

Practicing positive affirmations can be extremely simple, and all you need to do is pick a phrase and repeat it to yourself.

You may choose to use positive affirmations to motivate yourself, encourage positive changes in your life, or boost your self-esteem. If you frequently find yourself getting caught up in negative self-talk, positive affirmations can be used to combat these often subconscious patterns and replace them with more adaptive narratives.

 

Is There Science Behind Them?

Science, yes. Magic, no. Positive affirmations require regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel. The good news is that the practice and popularity of positive affirmations are based on widely accepted and well-established psychological theory.

 

The Psychological Theory Behind Positive Affirmations

One of the key psychological theories behind positive affirmations is self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988). So, yes, there are empirical studies based on the idea that we can maintain our sense of self-integrity by telling ourselves (or affirming) what we believe in positive ways.

Very briefly, self-integrity relates to our global self-efficacy—our perceived ability to control moral outcomes and respond flexibly when our self-concept is threatened (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). So, we as humans are motivated to protect ourselves from these threats by maintaining our self-integrity.

 

Self-Identity and Self-Affirmation

Self-affirmation theory has three key ideas underpinning it. They are worth having in mind if we are to understand how positive affirmations work according to the theory.

First, through self-affirmation, we keep up a global narrative about ourselves. In this narrative, we are flexible, moral, and capable of adapting to different circumstances. This makes up our self-identity (Cohen & Sherman, 2014).

Self-identity (which we’re seeking to maintain, as mentioned before) is not the same as having a rigid and strictly defined self-concept. Instead of viewing ourselves in one “fixed” way, say as a “student” or a “son”, our self-identity can be flexible. We can see ourselves as adopting a range of different identities and roles. This means we can define success in different ways, too.

Why is this a good thing? Because it means we can view different aspects of ourselves as being positive and can adapt to different situations much better (Aronson, 1969).

Secondly, self-affirmation theory argues that maintaining self-identity is not about being exceptional, perfect, or excellent (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). Rather, we just need to be competent and adequate in different areas that we personally value in order to be moral, flexible, and good (Steele, 1988).

Lastly, we maintain self-integrity by acting in ways that authentically merit acknowledgment and praise. In terms of positive affirmations, we don’t say something like “I am a responsible godmother” because we want to receive that praise. We say it because we want to deserve that praise for acting in ways that are consistent with that particular personal value.

 

A Look at the Research

The development of self-affirmation theory has led to neuroscientific research aimed at investigating whether we can see any changes in the brain when we self-affirm in positive ways.

There is MRI evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016). If you want to be super specific, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—involved in positive valuation and self-related information processing—becomes more active when we consider our personal values (Falk et al., 2015; Cascio et al., 2016).

The results of a study by Falk and colleagues suggest that when we choose to practice positive affirmations, we’re better able to view “otherwise-threatening information as more self-relevant and valuable” (2015: 1979). As we’ll see in a moment, this can have several benefits because it relates to how we process information about ourselves.

 

Benefits of Daily Affirmations

Now that we know more about the theories supporting positive affirmations, here are six examples of evidence from empirical studies that suggest that positive self-affirmation practices can be beneficial:

  1. Self-affirmations have been shown to decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015);

  2. Self-affirmations have been used effectively in interventions that led people to increase their physical behavior (Cooke et al., 2014);

  3. They may help us to perceive otherwise “threatening” messages with less resistance, including interventions (Logel & Cohen, 2012);

  4. They can make us less likely to dismiss harmful health messages, responding instead with the intention to change for the better (Harris et al., 2007) and to eat more fruit and vegetables (Epton & Harris, 2008);

  5. They have been linked positively to academic achievement by mitigating GPA decline in students who feel left out at college (Layous et al., 2017);

  6. Self-affirmation has been demonstrated to lower stress and rumination (Koole et al., 1999; Weisenfeld et al., 2001).

If you’re interested in finding out more about the proven benefits of practicing positive affirmations, this article by Critcher and Dunning (2015) is worth a read. The article looks at the ways in which practicing affirmations has been shown to foster a broader sense of self-concept.

 

What Are the Health Benefits?

As the studies above suggest, positive affirmations can help us to respond in a less defensive and resistant way when we’re presented with threats. One study that was mentioned above showed that smokers reacted less dismissively to graphic cigarette packet warnings and reported intention to change their behavior (Harris et al., 2007).

But more generally, an adaptive, broad sense of self makes us more resilient to difficulties when they arise. Whether it’s social pressures, health information that makes us feel uncomfortable, or feelings of exclusion, a broader self-concept can be an extremely helpful thing to have.

 

Can They Help One’s Outlook on Life?

As inherently positive statements, affirmations are designed to encourage an optimistic mindset. And optimism in itself is a powerful thing. In terms of reducing negative thoughts, affirmations have been shown to help with the tendency to linger on negative experiences (Wiesenfeld et al., 2001).

When we are able to deal with negative messages and replace them with positive statements, we can construct more adaptive, hopeful narratives about who we are and what we can accomplish.

 

What Is Healing Affirmation?

This kind of affirmation is a positive statement about your physical well-being. Popularized by author and speaker Louise Hay, these affirmations are based on the idea that your thoughts can influence your health for the better. You don’t have to be unwell to practice healing affirmations; this idea can be just as helpful for healing emotional pain if you find the idea rings with you.

Examples from Hay’s website include:

“My happy thoughts help create my healthy body,”

and

“Wellness is the natural state of my body. I am in perfect health.”

 

Who is Louise Hay?

Louise Hay, mentioned above, was an author, teacher, and lecturer who was well-known for her 1984 internationally bestselling book You Can Heal Your LifeBorn in the U.S., Hay survived many difficult experiences, including abuse and domestic violence, before she established the First Church of Religious Science.

In the 1970s, Hay was diagnosed with what medical professionals called irreversible cervical cancer, and as a result, she began looking into non-medical healing alternatives. In doing so, she created an approach that combined visualization, forgiveness, psychotherapy, and dietary health.

In later interviews—Hay lived to the age of ninety—she shared how she believed that this was what led to her being cured within half a year of her diagnosis.

Hay argued that self-perspectives and other negative beliefs are often the causes of our health problems. Through affirmations and other alternative approaches like positive thinking, she argued, we have the power to transform our lives and health.

You may have seen Hay on Oprah, or you may have read one of her books, in which you can learn more about the techniques, practices, and affirmations that explain her beliefs.

 

Answers to Common Questions About Affirmations

If you haven’t practiced positive affirmations before, you might have a lot of questions at this point. Here, we’ll address some of the most common questions asked about the topic.

 

Are Self-Affirmations Best Said Every Day?

There are no hard and fast rules about timing or frequency when it comes to practicing self-affirmations.

According to psychotherapist Ronald Alexander of the Open Mind Training Institute, affirmations can be repeated up to three to five times daily to reinforce the positive belief. He suggests that writing your affirmations down in a journal and practicing them in the mirror is a good method for making them more powerful and effective (Alexander, 2011).

 

Can They Help with Anxiety and Depression?

Positive affirmations are not designed to be cures for anxiety or depression, nor are they a substitute for clinical treatment of those conditions. But that’s not to say that they won’t help.

The idea of affirmations as a means of introducing new and adaptive cognitive processes is very much the underlying premise of cognitive restructuring. This is supported by a study of cancer patients that suggests that spontaneous self-affirmation had a significantly positive correlation to feelings of hopefulness (Taber et al., 2016).

 

Will They Boost Self-Esteem?

Affirmations can sometimes be very useful for boosting your self-esteem—but there’s a caveat.

The most important thing, according to self-affirmation theory, is that your affirmations reflect your core personal values (Cohen & Sherman, 2014). There is little point in repeating something arbitrary to yourself if it doesn’t gel with your own sense of what you believe to be good, moral, and worthwhile.

To have any kind of impact on your self-esteem, your self-affirmations should be positively focused and targeted at actions you can take to reinforce your sense of self-identity. Use your real strengths, or strengths that you consider important, to guide your affirmations.

 

Can You Improve Sleep With Affirmations?

A large number of anxiety-sufferers experience disturbed sleep (Staner, 2003). In the sense that affirmations can sometimes help to relieve anxiety, they may have some beneficial effects in promoting better sleep.

In addition, incorporating your affirmations into meditation can be relaxing and soothing. Meditation has been found to have numerous benefits in terms of sleep quality, so positive affirmation meditation could very well be a good way to improve your sleep (Nagendra et al., 2012).

If you are interested in trying this, you’ll find some audio and video below that may be helpful.

 

Are They Just Positive Mantras?

If you start digging into the academic literature, you’ll find that the terms “affirmation” and “mantra” are regularly used interchangeably. The same goes for more colloquial uses of the terms. There is a difference, though.

Technically, mantras are sacred words, sounds, or verses that carry more spiritual meaning than affirmations (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019). Frequently said aloud or mentally, they are believed to have deep significance and they feature a lot in meditation. More specifically, according to Encyclopedia Britannica (2019):

“Most mantras are without any apparent verbal meaning, but they are thought to have a profound underlying significance and are in effect distillations of spiritual wisdom.”

Positive affirmations, in contrast, are described by the Psychology Dictionary as brief phrases, repeated frequently, which are designed to encourage positive, happy feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. They hold no spiritual or religious meaning in the traditional sense and can be used for many purposes.

 

Positive Affirmation Examples

Based on this definition, here are some examples of positive affirmations:

  • I believe in myself, and trust my own wisdom;
  • I am a successful person;
  • I am confident and capable at what I do.

Listed below are more positive affirmation examples, focused on specific areas.

 

9 Positive Affirmations for Women

Looking for some ideas to create your own affirmations? Here are some nice examples:

  1. I choose to be happy;
  2. My life is taking place right here, right now;
  3. I’m gifted with and surrounded by amazing friends and family;
  4. I opt to rise above negative feelings and ditch negative thoughts;
  5. I am resilient, strong, and brave, and I can’t be destroyed;
  6. Nobody but me decides how I feel;
  7. When I lie down to sleep, everything is as it should be, and I rest content;
  8. I am in charge of my thoughts, and I don’t judge myself;
  9. I accept and love myself, thoroughly and completely.

These are adapted from a bigger list of 110 affirmations, written by certified self-development coach Barrie Davenport.

 

9 Positive Affirmations for Men

Here are some affirmations for men, including affirmations of self-acceptance and positive body image. These affirmations are based on a larger list of 30 affirmations and were adapted using the cognitive behavioral therapy idea of “negative core beliefs.”

  1. I am responsible for looking after me;
  2. By being myself, I bring happiness to other people;
  3. My goals and desires are as worthwhile as everybody else’s;
  4. Through courage and hard work, I can achieve anything that I set my mind to;
  5. I’m fine with who I am, and I love who I am becoming;
  6. Through my contributions, I make positive changes to the world;
  7. My body is amazing just the way it is, and I accept myself this way;
  8. I choose only to surround myself with supportive and good people;
  9. Whenever I fall down, I get back up again.

 

15 Positive Affirmations for Teens

Social pressures and academic stresses can take their toll on teens, but they can turn around negative self-talk and do something positive about they think and feel. Here are some affirmations that are well-suited for teenagers:

  1. I am a quick, capable learner;
  2. I believe in myself as a person and I believe in all my capabilities;
  3. I am unique and beautiful;
  4. Others respect me for following my own beliefs;
  5. If a few people don’t accept me, I’m fine with that;
  6. I forgive others for sometimes doing the wrong thing, and I forgive myself when I do the same;
  7. I am kind and good to the person I see in the mirror;
  8. I deserve to see myself as amazing;
  9. Whatever difficulties come my way, I have the power to overcome them;
  10. I was born strong, and I grow stronger every day;
  11. Today, I am going to trust myself and my instincts;
  12. I am good enough, and I am fine with just being me.;
  13. I treat others with respect, and they treat me the same;
  14. I choose to rise above the hurtful things that might come my way;
  15. I am working every day on the best me that I can be.

These positive affirmations for teens are inspired by this article from the Positive Affirmations Center, and this video by Jason Stephenson. (The video is highlighted again later in the article.)

 

11 Positive Affirmations for Kids

By learning to practice positive affirmations at a young age, kids can become much more prepared to use them when facing difficulties later in life (Bloch, 2015). These are very simple affirmations because the easier they are for young kids to remember, the more likely children will be able to practice them without an adult’s help.

  1. I am loved;
  2. I am creative;
  3. I am kind;
  4. I am brave;
  5. I am a responsible person;
  6. I will always do my best;
  7. I am unique;
  8. When I set out to do something, I am capable of doing it;
  9. I’ll always help others;
  10. I’m going to learn lots today because I am capable;
  11. I am important and a valuable person.

Similar affirmations for kids can be found at The Teacher Toolkit.

 

Everyday Positive Affirmations for Students

Students may find that affirmations are helpful for coping with the stress of academic life as well as their extracurricular and social lives. Here are some examples from the full list that you or a student you know can use for motivation or inspiration.

  1. When I get a bad grade, I am motivated to do better;
  2. I am determined and I aim for the stars;
  3. I set high standards for my academic achievement. By putting in time and effort, I can accomplish what I set out to achieve;
  4. I appreciate my school, teachers, and classmates because they all play a role in helping me grow to be a better person;
  5. Even on days when I don’t make much progress, I am constantly learning. On other days, I make amazing progress toward my goals.

 

9 Positive Affirmations to Help Relieve Anxiety

Most people who have suffered from anxiety will likely know how important it can be to cut off negative thought patterns before they begin to spiral. These affirmations can be used at any time, and even those who don’t typically feel anxious may find them useful during stressful moments.

During times of anxiety or depression, this list of 72 positive affirmations can be used for reassuring yourself. A few examples inspired by this resource include:

  1. I am liberating myself from fear, judgment, and doubt;
  2. I choose only to think good thoughts;
  3. My anxiety does not control my life. I do.

Some other affirmations related to nonjudgment and mindfulness for anxiety can be found on this list.

Here are some that draw inspiration from the list:

  1. I breathe, I am collected, and I am calm;
  2. I am safe, and everything is good in my world;
  3. Inside me, I feel calm, and nobody can disturb this peacefulness.

Another 52 mantras can be found at Anxiety Gone. Here are some based on these principles:

  1. I recognize that my negative thoughts are irrational, and I am now going to stop these fears;
  2. This is just one moment in time;
  3. I’m not going to be scared by a feeling.

While practicing these affirmations, try to take deep, slow, soothing breaths. As you become more attuned to the flow of your breath in and out, try not to let your feelings distract you. Focus on the affirmation that you’ve put time into creating for yourself, and each time you practice, it will feel more natural.

 

5 Daily Affirmations for Depression

As with anxiety, depression is often linked closely to—if not underpinned significantly by—thought processes such as overgeneralization and cognitive distortions (Beck, 1964).

Selective abstraction is a common distortion that is associated with depression and describes the tendency to overexaggerate negative things while underemphasizing the positive. Affirmations can help us to try and correct this balance by acknowledging and focusing on more positive aspects of both ourselves and our lives.

Here are 5 daily affirmations you can adapt, as we have. You can also view them at their original source.

  1. I am not afraid to keep going, and I believe in myself;
  2. I have come this far, and I am proud of myself;
  3. This is just one moment in my life, and it does not define who I am;
  4. This is one isolated moment, not my entire life. Things will get better;
  5. These are just thoughts. Only I determine the way I choose to feel.

 

5 Positive Affirmations to Help Build Self-Esteem

Here are five positive affirmations that are designed to help you increase your self-esteem:

  1. I release negative feelings and thoughts about myself;
  2. I always see the best in others;
  3. I believe in who I am;
  4. I am on a journey, ever growing and developing;
  5. I am consistent in the things that I say and do.

These affirmations were adapted from quotes written by coach and trainer Caroline Rushforth.

 

Words of Affirmation to Use During Pregnancy

If you are expecting, here are some suggestions from midwife, reflexologist, and practicing nurse Marie Drake Boyle. These can even be useful during labor, she says.

  • My baby is secure, loved, and safe;
  • My baby is going to be healthy and at the best time for us;
  • I trust my instincts and my body to tell me what I need when I am giving birth;
  • Strong, healthy, good contractions will guide my baby into this world;
  • I am relaxed, and my baby is going to be born easily.

Here is the full list.

 

Using Positive Affirmations at Work

Just like you can practice mindfulness in a quiet moment at work, there’s no reason not to take some time out to practice your affirmations at your desk.

Some examples might include:

  • I do not need to rely on others judgment for acceptance;
  • I do my very best, and that’s great;
  • I am resilient and can handle problems with expertise.

 

Positive Affirmation Cards

If you find that writing down your positive affirmations is helpful, or you want to carry them around with you throughout your day, why not make your own positive affirmation cards?

A quick internet search will reveal an abundance of these products, but all you really need is your own affirmations, a piece of paper or notecard, scissors and a pen. Quite simply, affirmation cards are pieces of paper about the size of a credit card that you can pop into your wallet, bag, or pocket that can be useful as a little reminder when you’re on the move.

 

Recommended Apps

If you’re after an app that can whip up a positive affirmation for you, here are some great examples.

 

1. ThinkUp

ThinkUp is an app featuring affirmations that are personally used by dozens of notable people, including coaches, athletes, authors, and more. If it seems difficult at first to think of a meaningful set of affirmations, this is a great source of inspiration.

 

2. Shine

Prefer to receive your affirmations via uplifting SMS messages? Try Shine. When you sign up on its website, Shine will send you one text each weekday. Shine claims that 93% of its users have reported noticeable improvements in their happiness each day.

 

3. Unique Daily Affirmations

It’s as simple as one unique positive affirmation each day with this app, which you can either visit daily to see the affirmation, or you can set it up to send you push notifications. In addition, Unique Daily Affirmations has a nice feature in which you can record your own affirmations and upload your own photos to make it more “you.”

 

Positive Morning Affirmations

Do you look in the mirror before leaving the house in the morning? According to Louise Hay, affirmations and positive thinking expert, the morning is a great opportunity to practice mirror work, in which you recite affirmations while looking at yourself in the mirror.

And the morning, Hay believes, is the best time to determine how you want the rest of the day to go. It’s why positive morning affirmations can be very powerful—and a great opportunity to practice repeating them in the mirror. Here are some of her suggestions:

  1. I am beautiful and everybody loves me;
  2. Life brings me only good experiences. I am open to new and wonderful changes;
  3. I feel glorious, dynamic energy. I am active and alive;
  4. Every experience I have is perfect for my growth;
  5. Today I create a wonderful day and a wonderful new future;
  6. Abundance flows freely through me;
  7. My self-esteem is high because I honor who I am.

These examples are from author Hay’s website.

Some general sentences that you can use to create your own positive morning affirmations include:

  1. Each day, I am growing stronger;
  2. Today, I am going to tackle everything bravely and with confidence;
  3. I am in charge of how I live each day.

What works for one person isn’t always going to work for the next. If you are having difficulty coming up with your own affirmations, try to think of a value that you would like to become part of your personal narrative. If it helps, you can scroll back up to where we talked about self-affirmation theory (under the heading “Is There Science Behind It?”) and use those principles to guide you.

 

Positive Affirmation Meditations

You don’t have to limit yourself to repeating your affirmations subconsciously or aloud. You can use these to guide a meditation session while you reflect on what you say to yourself each day.

How, where, and why you might want to practice meditation is a much larger discussion, but the relaxation benefits are widely acknowledged. Here are a few guided meditation videos that might help you relax and meditate on your positive affirmations.

 

1. Positive Thinking Meditation: Endorphin Meditation With Positive Affirmations

Linda Hall is a personal development coach and a meditation teacher. This video uses affirmations with positive thinking principles. It’s ten minutes long, so it’s quite nice for whenever you have a short moment to yourself.

 

2. Morning Meditation: 10 Minutes – Positive Affirmations to Start Your Day

This is a nice mix of affirmations that includes breathing techniques. As the title suggests, this video can be a short yet intensely relaxing and motivating way to start your day.

 

3. I AM Morning Affirmations: Gratitude, Self Love, Positive Energy, Freedom & Happiness

In a similar vein, this video includes affirmations of self-love, gratitude, and self-acceptance. Another resource to guide your morning meditation.

 

 

3 Positive Affirmations in Audio

If you’d rather listen to some affirmations on the go, or if your morning is way too hectic to set aside time for mirror work, affirmations in audio format are great solutions.

There are plenty of audio versions of positive affirmations out there, but we’ve selected three for you to try. Here are some audio tracks you can listen to while you’re out and about.

 

1. Rewire Your Brain: 300 Affirmations for Positive Thinking by Zhanna Hamilton (Audiobook)

This audiobook by Zhanna Hamilton (available on Amazon) is exactly what it sounds like, and it contains hundreds of affirmations that you can take with you while riding in the car, bus, or train, or wherever you go. These affirmations mirror the concepts we’ve described above, and you can use these positive narratives to develop more optimistic thought patterns.

 

2. Affirmations Audio by Calmer You

Here’s a free audio track (downloadable from Calmer You) that’s very basic. Great for if you don’t want music or anything fancy, this is a short track of affirmations read aloud that you download as an mp3.

 

3. Positive Affirmations by Anandra Rose

You can listen to this soft and gentle 33-minute track (available on Audible here) of motivational affirmations anywhere, including as you drift off to sleep. Straightforward and uplifting, this track can help you shift your attitude away from negative thoughts.

 

Recommended Books

If you’re a reader and want to learn more, here are some nice books that you can order or download in whatever format suits you best.

 

1. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Hay’s bestselling book (available on Amazon) is a great place to start if you want to learn more about healing affirmations and Hay’s life-changing experiences with positive thinking.

 

2. You Can Do All Things by Kate Allan

This is a gorgeous book (available on Amazon) of affirmations, drawings, and even mindfulness tips, all created to help those dealing with depression and anxiety.

 

3. Affirmations: The Power of Affirmations & The Secret to Their Success by Louise Stapely

This lovely book (available on Amazon) contains more than 1000 affirmations that you can use as a jumping off point your own. It also contains tips about how you can make your affirmation practice more effective.

 

5 YouTube Videos Worth Watching

You may prefer audio rather than reading, and if so, you may find it super helpful to repeat the affirmations in some of these videos. Adding to their benefits? There’s so much scientific evidence to show that repeating things aloud makes for more effective learning.

 

1. POWERFUL 7 Minute Affirmations — Self Confidence for Teens

Just as negative thoughts can have huge power on the way we feel, so can positive ones. Even if these affirmations for teens aren’t your particular cup of tea, there are some lovely things in here that will definitely make you smile.

This video also has a large body of examples that you can use to create your own affirmations that are personally meaningful.

 

2. Self-Love Affirmations: “I am Beautiful” Affirm your Self Worth

This is a beautifully soothing video because it’s designed to aid sleep. Here are a few of the self-worth affirmations from the track:

  1. “I think positive thoughts about myself and others”;
  2. “I protect myself against any hurt that comes my way;
  3. “I like the person I see in the mirror”

 

3. Louise Hay – Your Own Healing

This video includes healing affirmations from Hay herself. This may be a particularly useful resource for those who are interested in her work, as she explains a lot about the relationship between our physical problems and our thoughts.

It explains the links between guilt, self-punishment, fear, and all the beautiful aspects of life that make Louise such an inspiring figure.

 

4. I Am Worthy | Affirmations for Self-Esteem and Self-Love

These affirmations are related more to building self-esteem rather than general healing. As well as being incredibly relaxing, the affirmations in this video encourage us to treat ourselves better.

 

5. 33 Positive Affirmations for Kids [sic] Self Esteem

Simple, and well-suited for younger children, these affirmations are set to cheerful music. Uplifting, optimistic, and incredibly easy for kids to get into.

 

 

5 Quotes

If you still need more quotes to really motivate you, here are some of the best.

Take positive care of your mind, and it would surely take positive care of your life.

Edmond Mbiaka

I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.

Muhammad Ali

You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

Louise Hay

If you want to change the way you feel about yourself, first you have to change the way you think about yourself.

Gavin Bird

We are each responsible for all of our experiences.

Louise Hay

 

A Take-Home Message

Positive affirmations can be a super refreshing way to use positive self-talk capable of reversing negative internal messages and motivating ourselves. Whether you’re seeking a means of coping with anxiety, want to get yourself pumped for something, or just want to be more optimistic in general, try coming up with your own affirmations

Do you have your own affirmations you’d like to share? Or, even better, how do you come up with your own affirmations? Share in the comments, we’d love to hear them!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our 3 Mindfulness Exercises for free.

If you wish to learn more, Mindfulness X©is our 8-module mindfulness training package for practitioners which contains all the materials you’ll need to not only enhance your mindfulness skills but also learn how to deliver a science-based mindfulness training to your clients, students or employees.

 

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  • Critcher, C. R., & Dunning, D. (2015). Self-affirmations provide a broader perspective on self-threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(1), 3-18.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019). Mantra. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/mantra.
  • Falk, E. B., O’Donnell, M. B., Cascio, C. N., Tinney, F., Kang, Y., Lieberman, M. D., … & Strecher, V. J. (2015). Self-affirmation alters the brain’s response to health messages and subsequent behavior change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(7), 1977-1982.
  • Harris, P. R., Mayle, K., Mabbott, L., & Napper, L. (2007). Self-affirmation reduces smokers’ defensiveness to graphic on-pack cigarette warning labels. Health Psychology, 26, 437–446.
  • Koole, S.L., Smeets, K., van Knippenberg, A., Dijksterhuis, A. (1999). The cessation of rumination through self-affirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 111–125.
  • Layous, K., Davis, E. M., Garcia, J., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Cook, J. E., & Cohen, G. L. (2017). Feeling left out, but affirmed: Protecting against the negative effects of low belonging in college. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 227-231.
  • Logel, C., & Cohen, G.L. (2012). The role of the self in physical health: Testing the effect of a values-affirmation intervention on weight loss. Psychological Science, 23(1), 53–55
    LouiseHay.com. (2019). 101 Best Louise Hay Affirmations of All Time. Retrieved from https://www.louisehay.com/101-best-louise-hay-positive-affirmations/.
  • Nagendra, R. P., Maruthai, N., & Kutty, B. M. (2012). Meditation and its regulatory role on sleep. Frontiers in Neurology, 3, 54.
  • Sherman, D. K., Cohen, G. L., Nelson, L. D., Nussbaum, A. D., Bunyan, D. P., & Garcia, J. (2009). Affirmed yet unaware: Exploring the role of awareness in the process of self-affirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 745-764.
  • Staner, L. (2003). Sleep and anxiety disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 5(3), 249.
  • Steele, C. M. (1988). The psychology of self-affirmation: Sustaining the integrity of the self. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 21(2), 261-302.
  • Taber, J. M., Klein, W. M., Ferrer, R. A., Kent, E. E., & Harris, P. R. (2015). Optimism and spontaneous self-affirmation are associated with lower likelihood of cognitive impairment and greater positive affect among cancer survivors. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 50(2), 198-209.
  • Wiesenfeld, B.M., Brockner, J., Petzall, B., Wolf, R., & Bailey J. (2001). Stress and coping among layoff survivors: A self-affirmation analysis. Anxiety, Stress and Coping: An International Journal, 14, 15–34.
  • Worthman C.M., Plotsky, P.M., Schechter, D.S., & Cummings, C.A. (editors). (2010). Formative Experiences: The Interaction of Caregiving, Culture, and Developmental Psychobiology. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press

About the Author

Catherine Moore has a BSc in Psychology from the University of Melbourne. She enjoys researching and using her HR knowledge to write about Positive and Organizational psychology. When she isn’t getting super ‘psyched’ about her favorite topics of creativity, motivation, engagement, learning, and happiness, she loves to surf and travel.

Comments

  1. Joseph

    Hi. How do you feel about subliminal suggestions that are barely audible on the conscious level but are supposedly heard subconsciously? Can they be effective?

    Reply
  2. Brian Flanagan

    Hi Catherine
    Great article! Here’s a morning affirmation i worked into a song to get me motivated in the morning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePCxqcunp-M
    Working on an affirmation song that includes Charles Haanel’s Affirmation which i’ll send on when i’ve finished it.
    Thanks for this
    Brian

    Reply
  3. Hazel Evans

    Interesting article. But why are there different affirmations suggested for women and men?

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Hazel,
      Good question. These have been taken from lists prepared by specialists and coaches. It’s possible that these writers work primarily with clients of a particular gender. At face value, I suppose it makes sense. Positive affirmations often help undo negative self-talk, and that self-talk can stem from societal expectations, the nature of which sometimes differs between men and women.
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
    • Sukirti

      must be according to the common gender roles. there aint none for the non-binaries and other genders, nobody includes em! :’0

      Reply
  4. Maria Reaster

    Hi Catherine,
    I loved the article. One thing I am wondering, where is the information for Steele, 1988 citation in the list of references? I would like to know more about that portion.

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Maria,
      Good spotting! We will pass this on to our editing team to get corrected. In the meantime, here’s the reference:
      Steele, C. M. (1988). The psychology of self-affirmation: Sustaining the integrity of the self. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 21(2), 261-302.
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
  5. Ali

    Thank you for this enlightening article on affirmations. It answered all my questions and is well written, referenced and full of great links and resources.

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Ali,
      So glad that you enjoyed the article and that it answered your questions 🙂 Thank you.
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
  6. Glenn Hurley

    In an adult treatment program for addiction, for men, they force the clients to do positive affirmations in the mirror in front of everyone else. I believe it is not affective due to the awkward feeling attached to it for the men. Am I wrong about this? Signed drowning in a sea of estrogen :).

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Glenn,
      You describe an interesting scenario. I would think that being made to deal with self-conscious emotions (i.e., embarrassment) while speaking affirmations to oneself would detract from the mental resources available to focus on the positive messages you’re trying to absorb. So, yes! That seems odd to me. The same logic applies when a boss is giving negative feedback to an employee — It’s better to do so in private, otherwise the person may be too worried about what others who are overhearing are thinking to really absorb the suggestions for improving their work.
      Anyway, that’s my thinking. I’d be interested to know what the facilitators’ thinking is behind this approach.
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
      • Glenn Hurley

        Thanks. I emailed the clinical staff. I will reply if they do.

        Reply
  7. Paul

    The information and descriptions of everything on this page was just amazing. You’re truly amazing for sharing it all. Thank you so much for it all x

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Pat,
      This is an interesting article. In this article, the author notes that positive affirmations may be insufficient to change deeply held unconscious beliefs (because positive affirmations target consciously held beliefs). It’s an interesting take. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
      • Joseph

        Hi. In response to your reaction to an article questioning the usefulness of affirmations, I always thought that they were in fact targeted at the subconscious, albeit via the conscious. Mental conditioning rather than brainwashing or hypnosis. I assumed that by repeating them often enough they would replace the deeply held negative beliefs. If the article is true, it is rather discouraging to someone my advancing age trying to improve his life with the year’s going by.

        Reply
        • Nicole Celestine

          Hi Joseph,
          Thanks for your thoughts. Please don’t throw your self-affirmation practice out the window based on this article (or be discouraged)! While it’s an interesting take, when you read closely, the author appears to be saying that for some people, they may want to try an alternative technique (introspective self-talk, explored in this article). This technique is less declarative and more about being curious about our beliefs and self-talk.
          In short, for those who aren’t seeing benefits from self-affirmations, introspective self-talk may serve as a useful stepping stone, whereby you begin to question your unhelpful beliefs rather than trying to change/replace them in a single step.
          So, perhaps the title is misleading. Positive affirmations can certainly work for some, while others may want to try a different/slower approach. I think there is certainly lots of evidence for the effectiveness of positive affirmations when practiced regularly (as cited throughout our blog post here).
          Hope that clears things up!
          – Nicole | Community Manager

          Reply
          • Joseph

            Thank you for your speedy response. It lifted my spirits (at least for now) and I’ll continue with affirmations, while at the same time trying the technique suggested in the article. When I repeat affirmations it’s usually at various times throughout the day, often while I’m at work, out loud when I can, and other times silently or under my breath. I might get in about a hundred or more repetions a day. I also try to repeat them before falling to sleep at night. Is this helpful?

          • Nicole Celestine

            Hi Joseph,
            Glad I could help! While I’m not aware of any research on when to time your positive affirmations specifically, most advice I have read suggests to do them either at the beginning of the day or before bed. Some people find it helpful to say them at a time when they can look at themselves in the mirror. If you find they help you while at work, too, keep doing them then. My sense is that any moment where there is sufficient calm for you to let the message sink in is probably a good moment. Also possibly during times of stress (e.g., if you find it helpful when negative thoughts are creeping in).
            So, overall, no hard and fast rule. Hope this helps. 🙂
            – Nicole | Community Manager

  8. Raymond

    Very nice and well written article. May God Bless you

    Reply
  9. Poppy

    This actually answered my downside, thanks!

    Reply
  10. Amal

    Hi Cath, I really enjoyed raeding this article and it has great depth. wish u all the best

    Reply
  11. GUL MOHAMMAD RAZA

    I have read many articles and I really like and I gathered a lot of knowledge from this website and many peoples get help from this website so please keep it up and thank you so much.

    Reply
  12. Elizabeth palmer

    Love this article! I am a librarian, and would like to make an activity where senior people craft some positive affirmations to take home or give away. I am wanting if possible to link this to the idea of Elder Abuse – that thinking positively about yourself will help you not be bullied/abused (ie if you stop thinking ‘I’m a burden and i deserve this treatment’ or similar and start thinking ‘I am worthy of kindness’) Can you help me with 9 positive statements for older people?

    Reply
    • Lucinda Allen

      Hi Elizabeth, that sounds like a wonderful initiative. Personally, I’ve found affirmations a great way to start my day with focus and clarity of mind.
      I can’t suggest specific affirmations for older age groups, but perhaps you could ask our community on Facebook? We have a group called PositivePsychology.com and I’m sure our members could share some ideas.

      Reply
  13. Hairstyles

    I have noticed that online diploma is getting popular because attaining your college degree online has become a popular method for many people. A large number of people have not had an opportunity to attend an established college or university nonetheless seek the raised earning potential and a better job that a Bachelors Degree gives. Still other folks might have a diploma in one course but would wish to pursue another thing they already have an interest in.

    Reply
  14. Annessa

    I’m really confused. This article describes affirmations as short statements but what is actually used in the literature is quite different. Can you clarify this for me?

    Reply
    • Catherine Moore, Psychologist, MBA

      Hi Annessa, what description are you referring to in the literature?
      Thanks
      Cath

      Reply
      • Annessa Valdez Simpkins

        This was quite some time ago, but what us described in the literature is actually a ranking if values and then a short essay on why the top values are important to you is what I recall…

        Reply
  15. Adam Dean

    Thank you Catherine for this wonderful resource.
    Some ask ‘do affirmations work?’
    I don’t think they can hurt. Language is powerful.
    A mentor of mine always uses the phrase “You speak your future.” I agree with this.
    Language is an extension of our thoughts, and thoughts are things, just in a finite, much more subtle form of matter to be manifested at some point in the future.
    some of my favourite morning affirmations are:
    “I choose to fill myself with positive energy.”
    “My mind is filled with positive
    and nourishing thoughts.”
    “I can handle anything that comes my way.”
    If you’re in a rush you can download and listen to different affirmations such as:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvxs8qiqloU&t=74s
    Within two years of starting morning affirmations, I was debt free. By all means this wasn’t magic, it was a lot of hard work and selling over the phone.
    But it certainly starts with the attitude, mindset, and smile on your face. That’s how you make a connection with people, that’s how you make money. Money is energy and your energy will be a key factor in making money.
    People want to argue belief over behavior or behavior over belief.
    You need both. Bottom line.

    Reply
    • Catherine Moore, Psychologist, MBA

      Thank YOU Adam for such a pleasant and well-considered comment. I’m glad as can be to hear your positive story, and I’m happy that you liked my article.

      Reply
    • John Zehr

      Would love to hear more of your thoughts about the efficacy of affirmations.

      Reply
  16. Alessandro

    Wonderful article!
    But, wasn’t there a study which said that positive affirmations were detrimental for persons with low sel esteem and a bit effective in persons with high self esteem?

    Reply
    • Anastasia

      Yeah, exactly. Also, the scientific studies that confirm and explain the positive effects of self-affirmations (including those cited in this article) actually do not talk about self-affirmations in the popular psychology sense. They are describing the positive effects of recalling some positive aspects of oneself and one’s identity the person already *deeply believes to have*, not the ones this person *wants* to have. So, for example, when someone has troubles at work that make them question themselves as a professional, they can recall being a great parent, or a chess grandmaster, or just a good and compassionate person. If that’s the identity they strongly associate with themselves and also value. Such a self-affirmation would help them cope with the stress and remind them that their current problem does not define them. But just repeating “I am happy, successful, and beautiful” when one’s subconscience tells them that’s not true is not how it was supposed to work. It may work as a form of auto-suggestion or a placebo effect though.

      Reply
      • John Zehr

        Anastasia, you seem to have some very clear thoughts about the value of doing affirmations. I’m doing some research about affirmations and I was wondering if you’d be willing to take 10-15 minutes to answer a few questions via text message.
        Please feel free to email me at thetruthaboutaffirmations@gmail.com
        I look forward to hearing back from you.

        Reply
      • Truth

        You are not going to get traffic to the article (and people to buy your affiliate products underneath it) if you tell your visitors something that contradicts what they already believe and want to keep believing in. It’s not good for business to tell the truth if it’s inconvenient and can make your visitors leave your site. Even if what you write is based on distorted science, on a supposedly scientific website.

        Reply
  17. Fatimah Mustjab

    Dear Catherine
    WoW. What a wonderful Article.
    Thank you so much for your hard work. it is really not easy to compile so many valuable pieces of information in the same place.
    It has been helping me to find my way towards the transformation of ME.
    Thank you for being a part of my journey.
    From the bottom of my heart……….. God Bless You.

    Reply
    • Catherine Moore

      Wow, you made my day!
      Thanks Fatimah 🙂

      Reply
  18. Tim

    Cath,
    I really enjoyed reading your article. It has really gave me some insight on how this works and how it can help me with my wife, kids, family, friends and most importantly myself. I am new at this and learning and getting started.
    Thank you,
    Tim

    Reply
    • Catherine Moore

      Thanks Tim, I appreciate your encouraging words a lot 🙂

      Reply
  19. Heather Peterson

    Cath,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I am researching the benefits of reciting positive affirmations. I was very excited to come across information that had cited references. I am interested in learning more. Do you have a reference page or bibliography available?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  20. Megan Ruffino

    Hi Catherine, I love this article! You have gone into great depth and provided so many great resources. May I please link to it from my own website? I have recently launched a website called happinessisadecision.com where I would like to help people take charge of their own happiness. I would love to link to your article if that is okay with you. I would also love it if you would consider writing a guest article for my website to share your insight and knowledge with my (so far small) audience. Or give me your feedback. I understand that your time is busy with your work and writing so I completely understand if if this is asking too much. Fingers crossed though. I’m looking forward to hearing back from you when you can.

    Reply
  21. Roshani Shenazz

    Would be happy if you could go through and share with your community if you deem fit, my best-selling book “Angels Speak” which is the 1st Indian Oracle Book of 365 Channeled Angel Messages and Healing Affirmations along with 15 Archangels Channeled Illustrations that can be use for Meditation purposes to resonate the healing energies of the Archangels into our lives. It has been creating miraculous healing and transformations in many lives since its launch in 2016.
    Thank you for this lovely piece and all that you share into the world.
    Blessings, Roshani Shenazz

    Reply
  22. Kat

    Great (constructive, useful) piece! Feel better already. Thanks very much for the links, too.

    Reply
  23. Dimitris

    I find quite irresponsible articles like this one.
    Check the article below. Positive affirmations help the people that already have high self esteem. Those with low self esteem are negatively affected by them.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19493324?fbclid=IwAR3uZOdNj7LwL8saWpZqstdCi1mTQoiriayQlFg64ill2MJEze28hqdSYmY
    People are trying to maintain their self-image. It is mentioned in the article that positive affirmation theory suggests that people reflect on their core values but this only gets passed as a simple mention. Then Louise Hay presents herself. She has nothing to do with the research. She was just spreading positive affirmations all around.
    If you say I am beautiful and everybody loves me and this is not what you believe in your core then you will only feel worse.
    This is a wonderful and thoughtful site. But please take extra care when posting research based articles to include al research and be thorough on the suggestions. They can be widely misread.

    Reply
  24. Rob Rodgers

    Hi Catherine
    My name is Rob Rodgers, I’m a Flight Paramedic working in the Las Vegas, NV area. I love your article! I have been writing positive affirmations down and saying them for quite some time now … In fact they worked so well with my family, my daughter and I decided to make a small book with 22 of our favorite positive affirmations for people to read out loud each day. We loved your recent article on positive affirmations so much; we wanted to ask if we could refer people to this this article, and to you, for further information on the subject. We would like to add the link to this article and your name and credentials in the book. Please e mail us back when you have time … and thank you again for you amazing work! My e mail is flynmedic@msn.com Take Care.

    Reply
  25. Catherine Moore

    So happy these affirmations are useful to everybody, thank you so much for engaging!

    Reply
  26. Lesley

    Thank you for sharing!!

    Reply
    • Catherine Moore

      You’re most welcome! Hope they are helpful!

      Reply
  27. T Styles

    This is Extremely Beneficial!!!! Thanks for Sharing.

    Reply
  28. Oby

    This is amazing

    Reply
  29. vespa

    Thanks for sharing it’s amazing <3, Whatever I need to know is revealed to me at exactly the right time.

    Reply

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