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Positive Affirmations: The Power of Self-Talk and Daily Affirmations You Can Try Right Now

Young college student repeating positive affirmations in the mirror The idea of daily positive affirmations may seem a little new-age to some people, but there is actually a lot of science behind why this practice actually works.

Happiness, positivity, and mindfulness are all key components to living out your dreams and reaching your goals in any aspect of your life. You can certainly become successful in many ways, but if you don’t have happiness along with that success, you’ll never truly feel fulfilled.

Positive affirmations are free, don’t take a lot of time out of your day, and can be done anywhere at any time. In this article, we’re going to give you a rundown on how affirmations work and offer some ideas for kids, college students, stressed out teenagers, and everyone in between.

Young women embracing happiness with a smiling face balloon

The Power of Self-Talk and Positivity

Here’s some perspective for you: did you know that the average human has up to 60,000 thoughts per day – and of those 60,000 thoughts, 80% are negative? In 2005, the National Science Foundation published a shocking study revealing this data.

So, what exactly is self-talk? It’s essentially exactly what it sounds like: the way you talk to yourself.

You may not realize it, but you talk to yourself a lot. The thoughts that race through your mind every minute are your brain’s way of communicating with you and “talking” to you. For many people, that “self-talk” includes everything that’s wrong with yourself, and not a lot of the things you love about yourself. Eventually, you start to believe all of this and begin to act like you’re not worthy of better things.

This is why affirmations work. When you translate that self-talk into positive words instead of negative ones, you’ll start to see that positivity manifesting into many areas of your life. Repeating positive daily affirmations is a great way to make sure you get those positive thoughts in on a regular basis, and eventually you’ll start to feel the difference.

How Affirmations Work

A study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in 2013 found a direct link between self-generated thoughts and mood. In this study, researchers found that when participants had positive thoughts, their mood increased.

That same study from the National Science Foundation that determined 80% of our daily thoughts are negative also found that 95% of those daily thoughts are the same repeated thoughts from the day before.

Here’s some more science for you: in a journal in the Psychological Bulletin, University of Exeter psychology professor Edward Watkins published his findings based on research on repetitive thought. He concluded that repetitive thought has either a constructive or unconstructive outcome depending on the type of repetitive thought that occurred (positive thoughts or negative thoughts). Positive thoughts led to constructive outcomes such as recovery from trauma, better preparation, an increase in healthy behaviours, and recovery from depression. Negative thoughts led to unconstructive outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and decreased physical health.

So, what does this all mean? Essentially, there are two main takeaways from the science:
Constantly repeating the same negative thoughts to yourself has a substantial impact on your mental and physical health.
You can use repetitive thinking to add positive emotions to your daily life and help many aspects of your health and wellbeing.

Ultimately, repeating daily affirmations to yourself helps you “train your brain” or “rewire your brain” to form new patterns of positive thought. That positive thought can translate to accomplishments, increased mental and physical health, higher self-esteem, and ambition.

Young woman in her bed meditating and using affirmations

The Manifest Mindset

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are what you think you are?” This is a saying that stems back to Buddhist teachings, but it’s been quoted over time by people like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Marcus Aurelius.

The idea comes down to this: if you think positive thoughts, positive things will happen in your life. With enough positive thinking, many people believe you can actually manifest the things you want in life or the positive changes you want to make, but you need to make sure you have a manifest mindset in order to make it happen.

Before you go and start trying to use Jedi mind tricks to make the universe come together for you, understand that this is more about training your thoughts to shape your reality and not so much pointing at a lottery ticket and turning it into a million dollar winner. Your emotions often predict and determine the way you act and behave. Therefore, if you visualize yourself reaching your goals and believe you can accomplish them, you’ll start to put out the positive energy that will inspire you to stay on track.

So, does this actually work? Just ask some of our previous Homework Help Show Student Influencers Podcast guests. Manifest Mami, our guest on episode 27, lives and breathes the manifest mindset. Katie Neal, who joined us on episode 29, also talked about manifesting your dreams and gave us some examples of how this worked for her.

Person with a positivity outlook making a heart with their hands

Helpful Positive Affirmations To Get You Through School Stress

“It’s okay to ask for help when I need it.”
Many students often feel as though they shouldn’t ask for help or that asking for help is a method of admitting you don’t know what you’re doing. But there’s no shame in asking for help, and it’s actually an admirable thing to do! Your school has plenty of free support resources available, so use them as much as you can.

“I belong here and I can do this.”
Imposter syndrome is a very real and very common issue many students experience, especially when attending ivy league schools or when entering their freshman year. It’s defined as the idea of feeling like you aren’t as smart or qualified as your fellow students and therefore you feel like a fake or a “phony.” You wouldn’t have gotten into your school or program if you didn’t qualify, so give yourself a break and remind yourself that you absolutely belong there.

“I’m going to learn something new today.”
Dreading going to class and need some motivation to get out of bed? Think about the fact that you’re going to learn something today that you never knew before. These powerful positive words can add some optimism to get you on your way to even the most boring classes.

“I am courageous and ready for a challenge.”
University is full of challenges, and it’s how you handle them that really makes or breaks your success. Tell yourself you’re ready to tackle those challenges like the brave person you are and your positive thoughts will get you through them.

“Every roadblock is a learning opportunity.”
If you’re struggling in a class or failed a test, you may see it as a roadblock standing in the way of you getting the grades you need. But those failures, struggles, and obstacles are learning opportunities in disguise. How will you do things differently now that this has happened? What takeaways have you observed from this that you can use the next time you hit a roadblock?

Female student expressing positivity through a thumbs up gesture

Daily Positive Affirmations For Body Image and Self-Esteem

“My body is healthy and can do amazing things.”
When you’re starting to feel self-conscious about the way you look, which is completely normal and happens to everyone, think about how amazing the human body is. You are healthy and beautiful in your own way, and your body is the machine that gets you through every single day.

“I am enough.”
In case anyone hasn’t told you this lately, you are enough. You don’t need to try to change the way you look for anyone else. Accept yourself the way you are, because you are amazing just like that.

“There is more to life than the number on the scale.”
If you constantly worry about your weight, this is a powerful affirmation to remember. You are more than the number on a scale, and those pounds are just that – numbers. Unless you have to look at that scale for medical reasons, forget about it and enjoy your life.

“All media images are fake, photoshopped, and airbrushed. No one actually looks like that.”
Comparing yourself to the images you see in the media, on television, or in the magazines is not a good way to see yourself. Those images aren’t real, and no one is ever going to look like that in real life. You can remind yourself of this in your self affirmations.

“Food is not the enemy. My negative thoughts are.”
Eating too much chocolate isn’t going to kill you, and you’re allowed to enjoy your favourite snacks from time to time. What’s really going to kill you is the lack of positive thoughts when it comes to self-talk about your body.

Happiness shown in friends with painted hearts on their hands

Daily Positive Affirmations For Interpersonal Relationships

“Being different makes me special.”
It’s common to feel like you don’t really belong in a group when you don’t share a lot of the same interests or personality traits as your friends, which often leads to the pressure of pretending to be something you’re not. But being different makes you who you are and, quite frankly, the world would be a boring place if everyone was the same.

“My friends see the amazing things about me, and choose to be friends with me for a reason.”
Your friends hang around and invite you to hang out because they want to be with you. Share your positivity with them by being happy just the way you are, and stop worrying about whether they’ll like you. They already do like you; otherwise, they wouldn’t be your friends.

“I am exactly where I need to be right now.”
One of the biggest downsides of social media is that it forces us to compare ourselves to other people. When those people start to accomplish life goals before you do, it can feel like you’re falling behind or not as far ahead as you thought you would be by now. But that’s okay! You are where you are right now for a reason.

“Everyone in my life has something to teach me.”
Don’t dismiss people just because they seem different than you. Everyone in your life can teach you something or share something with you. Embrace it and let them influence your life experience.

“I have the power to help others.”
Helping others is the foundation of a positive, happy interpersonal relationship. If you have the means to help someone, you should do it. Even if it’s someone you don’t know, any little bit you can do to help will make a major difference in their life and bring them some happiness, too.

Person outside practicing daily affirmations in front of a multicoloured sunset

Positive Affirmations For Mental Wellbeing and Happiness

“My mental health is a priority.”
You should never feel guilty about prioritizing your mental health, even if it means you have to say no to someone. Campus anxiety and depression is very real, and can be a big roadblock to accomplishing your dreams if you don’t give yourself the care you need when you really need it.

“Self-care is important.”
Positive affirmations are a great first step in any self-care routine, but you need to make sure you focus on yourself and the things that bring you joy. If you need some new ideas to try, check out our list of 250 self-care ideas for students.

“My needs deserve to be met.”
You’re allowed to prioritize yourself. When your needs are met, you have the full potential to help others and achieve success, but you can only do that when you’re taking care of yourself first.

“I respect myself.”
Self-respect is an extremely important quality to have. If you respect yourself, you can prevent yourself from getting into a lot of situations where you’re disrespected and feel terrible about yourself.

“My mental illness doesn’t define who I am.”
If you suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, it can be difficult to separate who you are from what you’re going through. Positive thinking can help you reclaim your identity and show the world who you truly are, separate from all of this.

Young woman smelling flowers and embracing nature in her daily life

General Positive Affirmations to Help You Make Positive Changes in Your Life

“I am worthy of success.”
No matter how the successes in your life come to you, they are yours and you earned them. Keep reaching for your goals and following your ambitions because you are worthy of amazing things.

“There is so much time for me to make my dreams come true.”
Just because someone else is checking things off their list and accomplishing things doesn’t mean you’re behind. You have so much time left in your life, so make sure you enjoy it while you’re chasing those dreams.

“Life happens for me; not to me.”
Letting yourself feel like life is beating you up is normal, but if you start to re-think it as life doing things for you instead of happening to you, you’ll be able to take those challenges with positivity instead of frustration.

“I am choosing to make positive changes and not waiting for them to happen to me.”
If you want something to happen, you have the power to make it happen. Instead of waiting around for opportunities to fall into your lap, use these positive words to remind yourself to go out there and grab them.

“Today, I choose happiness.”
This is one of our favourite affirmations because it’s so simple, yet so powerful. Tell yourself you’re going to be happy and positive, and you’ll be able to get through your day with a smile on your face and an amazing outlook on life.

College student practicing meditation and positive daily affirmations outside

Daily Affirmations For Getting Through Difficult Times

“My past does not define my future.”
It’s important to allow the trauma that happens in your past to shape who you are and how you grow, but when you dwell on the past, you can actually limit your own future and close yourself off to the opportunities that may be right in front of you.

“Other people don’t define my happiness. I am in control of my own emotions.”
This is a great affirmation to use if you’re going through a breakup or if you’ve had a falling out with a toxic friend. You are the person who controls your happiness – always remember that. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness for others if it emotionally drains you.

“Some things in life are out of my control, and that’s okay.”
Throughout your life, there are going to be circumstances and situations you can’t control, and sometimes that can be stressful. All you have to do is focus on the things you can control. The way you handle the out-of-your-control things determines how you make positive changes in your life.

“I am grateful for everything I have in my life.”
One of the key elements of positive thinking is gratitude. When everything seems to be going wrong, remind yourself of the things in your daily life that bring you happiness, even if they’re small things like your favourite coffee mug or your softest blanket.

“One bad day won’t get me down. I can bounce right back.”
When you have a really bad day, you’re allowed to take time and process. But positivity can help you convince yourself you can get through any difficult time and not let those bad days get in the way of your academic, personal, or career success.

Hands outside in nature making a thumbs up to show happiness

Let Your Positive Affirmations Manifest Into Academic Productivity With Professional Help

One of our favourite positive affirmations on this list is reminding yourself that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. That includes getting help with your schoolwork. When you need a helping hand, that’s where we come in.

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