Science of Affirmations

To heal from an injury, infection, trauma, or chronic disease, the body requires support in the form of ample rest, proper nutrition, sufficient hydration, holistic interventions or therapies, and a positive mindset. The mind is a powerful asset in health, healing, and quality of life. To will, believe, dream, manifest, and put out into the Universe are all actions of the mind that can create change in the body and our lives. Reciting healing affirmations is a simple act that can elicit extraordinary results, and there is a good deal of science to back up why this is possible. 

But first, let’s learn about the man who pioneered positive self-talk for healing. 

Émile Coué and Optimistic Autosuggestion  

Émile Coué was a French psychologist and pharmacist who is widely noted as a pioneer of self-improvement through optimistic self-talk and autosuggestion. Coué worked as an apothecary from 1882 to 1910 and, over the years, noticed that patients often experienced better results when he emphasized the likelihood of success of the medicine he filled for them. Intrigued by the results he was observing, he started writing positive notes to accompany each prescription. It seemed that when the patients expected the medicine to work, the prophecy became self-fulfilling. This led him to begin studying hypnosis, which inspired the discovery of what he called “autosuggestion,” a form of self-hypnosis. 

In his book, Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion, he explains the law of concentrated attention, which states, “whenever attention is concentrated on an idea over and over again, it spontaneously tends to realize itself.” Coué was a stronger believer that each person has the solution to their own problems within them and that we each possess the instruments of our own cures. This could be achieved through a process called autosuggestion or applied conditioning. A simple practice that he recommended was repeating the following affirmation several times a day: “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” 

He believed (and witnessed) that rather than focusing on the negative, concentrating on the positive and the possible often led to more successful outcomes, whether in healing and health or life achievements and goals. Coué passed away in 1926, but his ideas still flourish and are as relevant as ever today. 

The Neuroscience Behind Healing Affirmations 

Affirmations are intentional thoughts you come up with to encourage, pacify, and support your brain and body. Affirmations can be used to influence your thought patterns, habits, health, and moods. They are a mental tool that can help you nurture a healthy sense of self and a more resilient brain. “I listen with love to my body’s messages” and “I am in the process of positive change” are examples of healing affirmations. 

Our internal dialogue, similar to external factors, causes our brain to respond by releasing neurotransmitters that trigger both physiological and psychological responses (pleasure, calmness, anxiety, stress, pain, a feel-good sensation). Repetitive thoughts, whether positive or negative, can influence your brain over time via neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to adapt and modify both in structure and function in response to experience. Constantly listening to yourself talk about never getting better, for example, only further perpetuates a loop of negative responses. Eventually, these types of reactions become like a bad habit. 

On the other hand, simple positive affirmations can help counteract those negative and self-sabotaging thoughts and eventually even quiet them all together. It is important to remember that our brains are malleable, and our thoughts are a very powerful shaping force. And for that reason, there is a lot of truth to the adage, “you are what you think.”  

Overcoming the Negativity Bias  

The negativity bias is an evolutionary and psychological phenomenon. This bias is our natural human tendency to more readily register negative stimuli. This is also known as positive-negative asymmetry. We tend to remember negative things more vividly than positive ones and also have a tendency to hold on to negative experiences for longer. This bias is one reason why our thoughts more naturally shift to the negative when we are sick or healing. We are hardwired to focus on the negative. 

Back in our hunter-gatherer days, this bias was a survival tactic; our brain made it unavoidable for us not to notice and remember danger. And while most of us are not hunting and gathering in predator-rich environments anymore, our negativity bias is still alive and active. Positive affirmations are a way to tone down and actually reprogram this deeply ingrained bias. We have the power to overwrite this evolutionary bias by making the conscious decision to shift our focus and thoughts to the positive. 

The Limitations of Positive Affirmations 

Healing affirmations are not quick fixes and, in fact, are not really fixes in and of themselves. They are part of a change we have control over that can contribute to positive outcomes. Trusting in your body’s ability to heal, believing that you will get better, and supporting your natural healing capabilities through your thoughts is not magic; it is the conscious action of planting the positive seeds for the change you wish to experience. One of the biggest limitations of positive affirmations is they are contingent on your attitude and your actual ability to achieve your goal. 

For example, it is unrealistic and ineffective to tell yourself repeatedly that you will be able to surf the big swell forecasted for the weekend when you are in a great deal of pain healing from torn intercostal muscles (which take a while to heal). On the other hand, affirming that your body will heal itself and you will be back in the surf in due time is a powerful force. An affirmation like, “I trust my body’s natural and powerful healing capabilities. The pain and injury are only temporary, and there will always be another swell.” 

Keeping a positive attitude and setting realistic expectations and goals is where healing affirmations can really work wonders for your mental and physical state. 

Affirmations

How and When to Use Them 

With practice, positive affirmations can become a healthy habit. While it might feel awkward at first, the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. The basic model for creating an affirmation is to make your declarative statement in the present tense and first person. For example, “I trust the process of life” or “I honor who I am.” 

Healing affirmations can be used any time and as often as you want. The key is repetition and consistency. You’re not limited to just one affirmation, either. If it suits you better, you can choose a different affirmation every day or circulate a combination of them. There is no shortage of positive and healing affirmations available to choose from online and in print if you don’t want to create your own. 

20 Healing Affirmations from Louise Hay 

Louise Hay is a renowned motivational speaker, affirmation advocate, and best-selling self-help author. She is widely known for her healing affirmations. 

  1. All is well in my world. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe! 
  2. Every thought I think is creating my future. 
  3. I claim my power and move beyond all limitations.
  4. Deep at the center of my being is an infinite well of love. 
  5. My happy thoughts help create my healthy body. 
  6. Filling my mind with pleasant thoughts is the quickest road to health. 
  7. I am at home in my body. 
  8. Wellness is my natural state.
  9. I am in harmony with nature. 
  10. Today is a sacred gift from Life. 
  11. I release all negative thoughts of the past and all worries about the future. Negativity has no part in my life. 
  12. Love flows through my body, healing all disease. 
  13. My healing is already in process. 
  14. I am constantly discovering new ways to improve my health. 
  15. I now live in limitless love, light, and joy. 
  16. Nourishing myself is a joyful experience and I am worth the time spent on my healing. 
  17. Today is the future I created yesterday.
  18. I feel safe in the rhythm and flow of ever-changing life. 
  19. I now free myself from destructive fears and doubt.
  20. I love every cell in my body.

Talk Your Way to Health 

Healing affirmations work in part because the more you tell yourself something, eventually you are likely to believe it. Émile Coué realized this over a hundred years ago. Since his time, research has demonstrated that we can in fact reprogram our thought patterns thanks to neuroplasticity. Your thoughts are something that you can learn to control even when so many other things might seem out of your control. Of course, there is more that goes into healing than just believing you will heal, but having this simple and always available tool may be what begins the healing cascade when nothing else seems to be working. In this way, you can, in fact, talk your way to health.

 

Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or treatments mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a licensed medical practitioner for medical advice.

At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we may participate in affiliate advertising programs pertaining to products mentioned herein.

 

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Meet the Author

Jenn Parker

Originally from Florida, and after ten years of thriving in Costa Rica, Jenn Parker now lives on a small tropical island on the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. She is an avid surfer, nature photographer, environmental conservationist, traveler, yogi, and self-educated nutritionist and wellness advocate. She has long adhered to a plant-based diet, and full-heartedly believes in the power of nutrition. She has been working full-time as a professional wellness, travel, and lifestyle writer since the start of 2015. Passionate about sharing what she has learned along her journey and through extensive reading and research, she hopes to inspire others to lead a more mindful, environmentally conscious, happy, fulfilled, and healthy lifestyle.
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