Are Positive Affirmations Bullsh*t?


Courtesy of Claire Fountain

Claire Fountain—celebrity yoga teacher, personal trainer, and wellness expert—founded #TrillYoga with her unorthodox approach to breaking stigmas and stereotypes in the yoga and wellness space. After getting into yoga for depression and anxiety, she has always been a mental health advocate beyond all her fitness endeavors. She also has an e-book series called Built and Bendy that promotes strength training, flexibility, mindfulness, and positivity-led health goals.

Growing up, I learned about positive affirmations in therapy. Now, they seem to be everywhere as your quick fix to making everything right. Want to change something, just think your way to a better life by ridding yourself of negative thoughts and thinking all positive things!

But I can’t be the only one who starts to roll my eyes now with some of these motivational lists or how to affirmation guides. Most end up sounding superficial or seemingly empty, others feel too idealistic, and the rest just sound pretty corny to me.

Let’s start with what an affirmation is: An affirmation is a quote or phrase that affirms something about who we are, what we do, etc. It can help to reprogram the subconscious mind, be transformative, or at least inspiring. It feels best when it also effects behavior change, but we will talk more on that later.

Affirmations can be good at times. Positive thinking and taking control of our self-talk IS a good thing. However, this doesn’t happen instantly, nor can it, as most thought patterns that center around our self-esteem and the idea of ourselves are ingrained in us as early as childhood. These subconscious thought patterns are what make us feel like fakes when we repeat stock positive affirmations. Forcing ourselves to repeat things we innately do not believe can actually make us feel worse, not better, as they act as a reminder of our flaws and shortcomings we already believe about ourselves. What an exhausting inner battle that can create.

How then can we find a way to create affirmations that don’t suck, and that might help us instead of hurt us? How can we change the underlying thoughts and create a lasting impact instead of a fleeting falsity?

Some of this has to do with learning how to correctly create affirmations. The rest centers around what you’re saying and how you’re posing the affirmation. So let’s get started.