The simple things in life are the ones we often glance over – without any thought.
And yet, that is where the biggest part of our power lies: in our thoughts.
How many times have we experienced it to be true that “the outside world is a reflection of what’s going on in the inside”?
In other words, whatever is going on in our lives is a mirror to how we may be feeling or what we may be thinking: if we are thinking positively and feeling expansively, then we are setting the stage for higher-level circumstances in our lives and work. If we are not, well, then the opposite has a larger chance of occurring.
If we tell ourselves we are incapable of something, we are likely to sabotage ourselves and not accomplish that thing. If we tell ourselves we are not good enough, we will likely find ourselves in situations in which we show ourselves that we are not.
In other words, whatever we focus on in the secret place of our minds, the universe dutifully brings to us.
Indeed, in leadership and in life, many people have discovered a simple, yet profound truth:
What we say verbally (and internally, via self-talk) eventually materializes into our conscious experience.
We can affect what we want to be or do or have by consciously choosing what we tell ourselves.
And, yes, while that might very well sound woo-woo, there is actually quite a bit of scientific research backing it up.
Leverage the Power of Affirmations to Achieve Success
Numerous studies have noted the positive effects that affirmations provide.
Research at the Annenberg School for Communication, collaborating with University of Michigan and UCLA, discovered what happens in our brains while we practice self-affirmations.
Affirmations, like prayer, actually change the brain on a cellular level—in other words, what you think about matters—a lot. “Thoughts have a direct connection to your health,” says Dr. Joseph Dispenza, author of Physics, the Brain and Your Reality:
“Thoughts make a chemical. If you have happy thoughts, then you’re producing chemicals that make you feel happy. Negative, angry thoughts and fearful thoughts also produce chemicals to make you feel how you’re thinking.”
Neurons connect in your brain by attaching to thoughts and memories. Thoughts then become organized into a pattern. For example: The feeling of love is stored in a pattern. Each person builds his/her concept of love from many different ideas and experiences, explains Dispenza.
What Exactly Are Affirmations, Anyway?
“Affirmations are statements you make to yourself — declarations of what you wish to be”.
– Sharon Janis
“Every thought you think and every word you speak is an affirmation. All of our self-talk, our internal dialogue, is a stream of affirmations. You’re using affirmations every moment whether you know it or not. You’re affirming and creating your life experiences with every word and thought.”
– Louise Hay
As Bryan Goodwin wrote in Affirmations for Better Leadership, saying affirmations with confidence awakens the subconscious mind, thereby causing it to pay more attention to our affirmation – and less attention to that which we are critical of ourselves for.
While affirmations should be your own words, Rick Clonlow writing in LinkedIn shares some good examples to inspire us:
-I am achieving dramatic success in my work.
-I am a good listener.
-I am working smarter, not harder.
True Leaders Speak Authentic Affirmations
When acknowledging achievements done by their team, authentic leaders offer congratulatory praise that is genuine – and personally directed.
Enzo M. Battista-Dowds PhD. RD noted in The Ascent that when we are not genuine, our affirmations aren’t, either. After all, our listeners can easily tell – by our tone of voice or by our energy – when we are not being genuine with our words.
For example, a leader may tell an employee that they are brilliant, excellent and exceptional, but as Battista-Dowds states, if they are not specific to the person, there is no depth to these words. They are merely empty words that a person with little self-esteem will most likely disregard. To change this disbelief, Battista-Dowds suggests a double affirmation.
Start with a value affirmation and end with a quality affirmation that is specific to the person. This creates compelling affirmations. Examples from Battista-Dowds:
“Your teamwork is fantastic. You’re collaborative.
Your service is stellar. You’re professional.”
Context is everything, says Batista-Dowds, and “doubling-up” is even more powerful. An employee hears their service is stellar and then acknowledges their work is stellar because they are a professional.
Our world yearns for positivity and compassion. An authentic leader inspires others with meaningful and genuine words of praise, specifically tailored for each team member. Employees are uplifted and motivated – a win-win atmosphere in any organization.
We Can Affirm Our Way to Success With Positive Statements
Affirmations needn’t be complex – they are simply positive statements we make that focus on whatever it is that we desire to accomplish.
To be most effective, they are to be repeated frequently and with a strong conviction to create a fundamental shift in our subconscious so that our inner system truly believes in what we are telling it.
Just as important as affirming regularly is surrounding ourselves with people who support us with empowering thoughts. Amy Morin in Psychology Today says the company we keep says a lot about us: we begin to act like the people we surround ourselves with. This is why it is important to associate with those who raise us up.
Affirmations should be words of our own choosing. We can speak them, too, as if we are talking to a friend. Speak in the present tense.
To normalize the affirmation in your thinking, repeat it 10 times for a few minutes, twice daily.
Be consistent. Remember, we often are uprooting decades of thought patterns that create limiting effects for us. Stay grounded in what you want to create for yourself.
And, as the old saying goes, “Act as if.” Doing so helps influence our subconscious mind more effectively so that it believes in the truth of our affirmative statement.
Yes, it really is true: we do have the power to change ourselves. It is within each of us. As we tell ourselves powerful, positive thoughts, we can be witness as our outer world transforms.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
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Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As the Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International (ALI) & a Women’s Leadership Coach, my highest intention in the business realm is to help women in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.
Recently, my perspectives were featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.