Inspiring Thoughts from EAC

Creating Real Affirmations for Positive Change

affirmations on post it notes

By Cynthia May, MA, LLP, EAC Clinical Specialist – Many people have learned that when you want to make a positive behavior change in your life, it’s important to create a phrase or sentence to remind yourself of your new thinking. That’s called an affirmation. Repeating it often to yourself helps re-align your thoughts with these new messages.

But do you know the criteria that’s essential for affirmations to really work? Read on to discover how to create positive, effective affirmations!

First, let’s look at an example of a change: changing your diet, maybe not eating sweets (cookies, cake, donuts, candy, etc.)

Creating an affirmation has a few criteria.  An affirmation should:

  1. Be written in 1st person language, like “I Am…”, “My body is…” etc.
  2. Be written in PRESENT tense.  I am, my body is, etc.
  3. Be created with only POSITIVE language. There must be an absence of all forms of the words noand notincluding contractions like can’t, won’t, don’t This is often much more challenging than one may first think. So, it is not helpful to say, “I am losing weight each and every day until I get to 120 pounds.”


In our language and in our upbringing, losing something means that we’re eventually supposed to find it!  Ever been a yo-yo dieter?  Lose some weight and then gain it back?

Additionally, when you create your affirmation (using the three criteria above), be sure it is a believable possibility.  For example, if your affirmation is, “I am a slim, trim 120 pounds,” yet the reality is you weigh 160 pounds, your inner personal lie detector is definitely going to buzz!  Loudly!  If you really want to release weight to get to 120 pounds, then you’ll need to create an adjective, a descriptive word, that is in the present tense. For example:  “I am becoming a slim, trim 120 pounds easily each and every day.” Use an action verb adding “ing” to make it at least 50% believable and encouraging.

Let me clarify why we need these criteria.

The purpose of an affirmation is not only to keep it in our conscious mind, but we also want it to become embedded into our subconscious. That level operates on a higher frequency of existence, in a simpler system.  It’s like only using a binary code of 0 and 1 in a computer program.  We come into this world using that system as babies, and what we learn at this time becomes our subconscious as we get older. Babies only know NOW, the present.  And they learn to receive POSITIVE words. In fact, their whole world revolves around their existence – what they see, smell, feel & touch (e.g., hunger, comfort, pain, light, dark, etc.)  ME, ME, ME.

So, let’s take a 15-month year old toddler who reaches for and grabs a pair of sharp scissors and starts running, ok, toddling fast. If an adult says,” No! Don’t run with those scissors!” that toddler only hears, “____! Do ___ run with those scissors.” The toddler is still living in that early binary code.  We all know that it takes a child until close to being a two-year-old or older to understand the concept of “no.”

In regard to the example affirmation, if one is created that says, “I will not eat sweets,” then our subconscious will hear, “I eat sweets.” And that’s what gets programmed into our inner belief system, our inner voice.  The word will is in the future tense, and not isn’t recognized.  “I eat sweets” is going to actually increase our urges to eat sweet foods.

Some examples of healthy affirmations are:

  • I am easily releasing extra weight, every day, reaching 120 lbs.
  • My body is easily dissolving extra weight, even now, to reach 120 lbs.
  • I really enjoy choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables. My body becomes happy, healthier, and leaner.
  • I am learning to love & care for myself more and more every moment.

So, to recap, the 3 criteria for creating a positive, effective affirmation are:

  1. Write it in 1st person
  2. Write it in present tense
  3. Use positive verbiage

Happy creativity to you.  Happy You!

If you would like assistance in creating your affirmations, or would like help with other life issues, please reach out to EAC.  We’re here to help!

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