Have you ever been at a gathering, and a person you have met before forgets your name? They say, “I’m sorry, I’m just no good with names.”

When this happens to me, I like to have fun with it. I will ask them, “Would you like a tip to help you better remember names?” They’ll usually say yes, to which I respond, “Start telling yourself you’re good at remembering names.”

This anecdote speaks to the power of affirmations. I believe we would all agree that if we tell ourselves that we are not good at something, we likely will not be good at it and possibly restrict ourselves from ever getting good at it. The funny part is that we tend to doubt the reverse. If we tell ourselves that we are good at something, we don’t necessarily believe that this will lead us to be competent at this same thing.

I admit to being skeptical when I first heard about the power of affirmations. I’m not skeptical anymore. I genuinely believe affirmations work. I now practice them virtually every day as one of my first activities after getting up in the morning.

Freudian theory indicates that our mind is divided into three levels: conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. Our unconscious mind is the layer where our innate thoughts, memory, and emotions reside – primarily, these are things we are unaware of and are absorbed by our sponge-like brain at a young age and are the foundation of our belief systems. Psychologists tell us much of our unconscious mind develops in childhood, around six or seven, which is about when we become ‘conscious.’

Psychological research tells us that just about everything we were told and experienced as children before becoming conscious tends to reside in our subconscious memory. To a certain extent, this programming has become our operating system, not unlike iOS or android in cell phones. You don’t notice it, but it runs in the background and controls much of what we believe and how we act.

In humans, for better and for worse, our subconscious shapes how we experience and interact with the world.

When negative, this programming can hinder our experience. For example, you may have been told or formed an impression in kindergarten that you were bad at art. It’s possible you could still believe this, and that belief is self-fulfilling – you stay away from anything to do with creating art.

Negative programming and self-belief aren’t just created in childhood – belief systems can be developed as adults too.

Affirmations are a way we can overwrite some of our negative subconscious beliefs and create positive self-talk to serve us better.

Consistently framing what we think about ourselves in a more positive light using affirmations has been scientifically shown to produce better life outcomes. It seems like a little effort can produce outsized results for us.

The rules for affirmations are simple:
1. Begin with “I am… “
2. Say it out loud.
3. Say it with elevated emotion and conviction.
4. Convince yourself – believe it is true.

Affirmations will not instantly change your life for the better. Practiced consistently over time, I’m confident you will notice a positive change. I find a great place to practice is alone in the car.

What are the attributes of the person you wish to be?
What affirmations can you create from those attributes?
What might you believe about yourself (for which there is no evidence) that is closing off possibilities for you? What affirmation can you create to counteract this belief?

I hope you will give affirmations a try.

With loving kindness,

Coach Billy