There is a true power in using self-affirmation and a science behind how it helps leaders achieve success. I have personally been utilizing the technique of self-affirmations or personal affirmations since 1988 and have seen the benefits of this great tool.
There’s an old saying that says sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Of course, we all know that this isn’t really true. Words have power, and when they are wielded carelessly, they actually can hurt. In both your personal and professional relationships, the words you choose and the tone you take can shape the way other people feel—about you and about themselves.
Chances are, you know this from personal experience. Perhaps someone said something thoughtless to you once, and it really hurt. It caused you to lose some of your own confidence or self-esteem. At the same time, people who speak carelessly can also do damage to themselves; perhaps someone says something rude to you and you simply lose your respect for them, finding it difficult to look past their haphazard remarks.
As a leader, the way you talk to your team members can have a dramatic impact on the way your team functions, and ultimately on the very way in which your company works. Here’s something that’s just as important, though, and even harder to implement: The way you talk to yourself also has huge ramifications and can make or break you in terms of everyday success.
Starting the day Positively
- That’s why I think it’s so important to start each day right looking in the mirror and speaking a few words of affirmation to yourself. These don’t have to be over the top; simply remind yourself that you are capable, that you are hardworking, and that you have what it takes to succeed. Build up your own confidence with some positive self-talk.
- By no means is this a silly or nebulous exercise. Psychologists agree that the way you speak to yourself can shape your attitudes and your actions throughout the day. Speaking positively to yourself pushes your subconscious to step up, take action, and spur you toward success—whereas speaking negatively to yourself will only suppress your potential.
- Getting into the habit of self-affirmation can have other positive effects, too. For one thing, it will build within you a meaningful routine of affirmation. You’ll find yourself speaking negative thoughts—I can’t do this, I’m going to fail, etc.—much less frequently. You’ll be able to shake off those confidence-killers once and for all.
Self-affirmation also helps you stay focused. It allows you to be reminded, each and every day, of what your purpose is, what you’re trying to achieve—and how you’re going to achieve it.
There is actually a self-affirmation theory. It is a psychological theory that focuses on how individuals adapt information or experiences that are threatening to their self-image.
- Claude Steele a social psychologist and professor at Stanford University originally popularized the self-affirmation theory in the late 1980s and remains a well-studied concept even today!
- The Self affirmation theory states that if you focus on the values you want to embody, you will be less likely to experience stress and react defensively when confronted with an experience or information that contradicts or threatens your self-image.
So, yes there are even psychological studies based on the idea that we can maintain our sense of self by telling ourselves or affirming what we believe in positive ways. Our perceived ability to achieve our goals and respond to challenges in a positive manner is based on the image we have of ourselves and protects us when threatened.
Scientific Research and Self- Affirmations
The development of the 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 brain activities are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016).
- Parts of our brain 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).
This means when we choose to practice positive self – affirmations, we’re better able to view otherwise-threatening information as more relevant and valuable to our circumstances.
Saturday Night Live and Self Affirmations
Personal Affirmations were also made famous by former United States senator and Saturday Night Live comedian Al Franken playing his fictional character Stuart Smalley. His famous affirmation “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!”: Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley, was also the title of a book in 1992.
Celebrities Who Succeeded with the Use of Positive Affirmations
There are many celebrities and athletes that come to my mind when I think about their success due to the use of positive affirmations. The most famous being Jim Carrey. Long before he was a successful superstar, he had already started believing he would be a success someday.
In 1985, Carrey made an audacious decision: He wrote himself a $10 million check for “acting services rendered,” dated it 10 years in the future, and kept it in his wallet. Call it a coincidence, but in November 1995, Carrey found out he was cast in the movie “Dumb and Dumber”. Guess how much for — you guessed it — $10 million.
It is he who says that nothing in this world happens without a thought and intention behind it. He imagined his success and constantly believed in it.
Speak powerful words into your own life. Watch how that confidence overflows into your daily activities, and even into the way you speak to others! For some specific affirmations or some general confidence-boosting tips, contact Dr. Rick Goodman—the team-building expert!
Dr. Rick Goodman is a professional speaker and author who works with organizations that want to develop great leaders “Through Excellence in Communication and Team Building.” For more information on Rick’s speaking programs, audio programs, and learning programs, contact (888) 267-6098 or Rick@rickgoodman.com, or visit www.rickgoodman.com.