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How To Use Affirmations To Reprogram The Subconscious Mind

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I stumbled across affirmations for the first time when I was researching ways to overcome the toxic cycle of negative thoughts I was stuck in during my recovery journey from a serious injury and the surgery that was required to get back to normal. As I am sure anybody out there can relate to, it is often very difficult to change the way we think during our normal lives, as well as during the hard times we all inevitably will experience at one point or another. The one thing many of us often forget is how our thoughts are often nothing more than habits. We think a certain thought or way because those are the patterns we have ingrained into our minds. Affirmations are a way of breaking the spell of these. 

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations are phrases that we manually repeat to ourselves either mentally or ideally out loud, that are examples of thoughts we would like to think or experience more of. Affirmations are also often used in journaling and repeated to ourselves mentally through the simple act of writing them down. Affirmations are usually utilized in a set of several that we run through each time we sit down and give them our time, or they can be a singular phrase, utilized almost like a mantra. To summarize all of this, affirmations are short, positive, and empowering statements that we repeat to ourselves intentionally and with focus. 

Why Do People Use Affirmations?

This may sound a little sci-fi to some people, but affirmations are essentially used to reprogram the minds default go-to thoughts. Just as thinking about how much we hate our jobs, or how much we hate our messy roommate only solidifies those thought patterns in our cognition, repeating empowering and uplifting affirmations to ourselves regularly can help us reprogram the unconscious habits in the way we think. Affirmations are used by many people who are looking to; become more confident in themselves, grow their sense of self-love, become more friendly, experience a greater sense of compassion, enhance their feeling of gratitude, and many other things. We use these affirmations to teach our subconscious mind how we would like it to think. This is of course a very slow process but can work incredibly well if we remain dedicated and committed to the practice of affirmation. Even if we may not be feeling the way our affirmations state when repeating them, the goal is to get the mind used to that way of being ahead of time. The old adage of “fake it till you make it” is very real when it comes to changing our way of thinking and interacting with the world around us. The more we practice showing up a certain way, the more habituated it becomes and the more comfortable we become acting as such.

How To Use Affirmations Effectively

Using affirmations effectively is a very simple process. Overall, the simple explanation of how to utilize affirmations is just to repeat them to yourself. This is the key element, but there are several things to keep in mind to help you get the most out of them in order to retrain the mind more effectively. 

  1. Choose affirmations that are right for you. This may seem obvious, but every one of us is dealing with something different on a daily basis than everyone else. When beginning to utilize affirmations, make sure you hand select a collection of affirmations that are relevant to your specific situation. If you have something specific that you want to work on, decide on a set of phrases that are powerful when relating to that specific thing. 
  2. Make sure to repeat the affirmations using “I” statements. When repeating affirmations the goal is to make it about you and your internal belief systems. The subconscious mind knows that “I” is different from “you, them, or we. We want this to speak to your mind’s logical side, and the unconscious parts that we do not control. After, the subconscious mind makes up the vast majority of our memory, behaviour and beliefs. 
  3. Ideally repeat your affirmations out loud. You can repeat them to yourself mentally, but it will not have the same powerful effect as repeating them out loud, so that your subconscious mind can hear them out loud through the additional senses your ears provide. This, although very subtly, can make the experience feel more real to the mind and body.
  4. Try repeating them in the mirror with a posture that matches the state you are going for. An example of this would be standing with a strong but relaxed posture while repeating confidence affirmations back to yourself. Looking yourself in the eyes while practicing appearing and repeating statements that reflect thought patterns you would like to see more of will make it feel much more real to the body. It will serve as actual practice for that way of being, ideally solidifying your thoughts with more power and energy.
  5. Record audio of your repetitions of the affirmations you are working on and listen to it in headphones. This is an old trick I learned from a global real estate mogul I met while living in Toronto. He apparently did this for 30 years to become the all star he is today. I can affirm that this approach works very well, especially when you update the audio regularly to reflect your updated mindset and aspirations. Hearing your own voice, again, makes it more real for your mind, and it is an excellent way to trick the subconscious into believing that these thoughts are already real.
  6. Visualize the emotion, feeling, and experience associated with the affirmations you are repeating. Take a pause after repeating each phrase and really visualize the experience of the affirmation. Feeling the emotional side and the physical experience during a repetition can help to lock in the habit, by making the feeling accessible. Adding this element to your affirmations can help make the experience more familiar in the future, allowing you to tap into that; confident, grateful, stress free, or whatever other feeling you seek more easily than before you started affirmations. 
  7. Listen to affirmations on YouTube or mindfulness apps. If you are out and about, or you do not have the time to create your customized list of affirmation, you can always turn on a video of affirmations created from someone else. This will not be as specific to your situation, or as accessible to your subconscious mind, but it can serve as a great alternative when you are in a pinch or simply want a light but positive audio track to put on in the background.
  8. Google search lists of affirmations for some great ideas for phrases that you can begin repeating. I know it can be difficult to think of all the affirmations that may be beneficial for us off the top of our heads, so it always helps to be able to customize our own list by generating and copying a few ideas from other lists. Luckily there are a huge amount of existing affirmation lists scattered across the web for you to browse.
  9. Repeat them a lot! I saved this point for last, because it is likely the most important out of all 9 points. Just as we had to put in our reps for all the other skills we have acquired in life, this will require a lot of repetition. Repetition is the mother of habit, and habit is the mother of skill. To become skilled at accessing the state of mind your affirmations seek, repeat them often. Most of the successful and happy people I have met who attribute a lot of their wins to affirmations say they repeat their affirmations to themselves on a nearly daily basis, if not more. I know for myself, I repeated my affirmations 1-5 times a day when I first picked up the practice. I did this for nearly 3 years before slowing my pace. I would keep a paper with affirmations written on both side either in my backpack, laptop sleeve, or in the case of my phone. This way I could pull them out and read them back to myself whenever I had a few minutes of spare time throughout the day. This habit was perhaps one of the most effective habits I have picked up over the years of exploring mindfulness.


To conclude this article, affirmations can serve as a valuable tool that serves two important purposes: helping to retrain the way your mind thinks and its automatic thought reactions, and manually reminding ourselves of the kind of person who is choosing to both be, and practice becoming more of. The two of these things combined can serve as powerful tools for shifting the way we show up in the world. On the whole, I will share a few important mentions to close the article. Remember that affirmations are not a one size fits all bandaid solution. These will work differently for different people, and they are often most effective when they are just one aspect of a collection of practices and conscious actions an individual is taking to better themselves. They are also not a clinical treatment for any serious mental health issues. Looking back, I utilized these to help come out of injury-induced depression, but what is undoubtedly even better for this sort of thing, is professional help. If you are in need of help for a diagnosed issue or something more deeply tied to mental health, I would encourage you to seek out therapy or a professional that can help with your unique situation. I see a therapist for my own mental hygiene regularly, and I would highly recommend doing so for anybody who is considering additional support.

Our Guided Affirmation Audio Tracks On YouTube

Example List Of Affirmations You Can Use

I am confident in myself.

I am proud of my achievements.

I am grateful for everything I have in life.

I am grateful for all of my experiences, even the bad ones because all of them have shaped who I am today.

I am creating the life of my dreams one step at a time.

I choose to be a beacon of positivity for the people in my life.

I love people and I enjoy being friendly to everyone I cross paths with.

I choose to live in possibility and the world is my oyster.

I have overcome challenges in the past, and I can and will do it again.

I am resilient and strong.

I am calm and at ease.

No matter what the world throws at me I remain safe and secure.

I am loving.

About the author
Picture of Sean Grabowski

Sean Grabowski

A passionate ambassador, educator and student of mindfulness and meditation. Advocate for unique experiences and life long learning.

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