I was going through some old draft posts, where I started but never finished a post where I put a link to remind myself to respond to something later, and I came across a link to Creative Affirmations blog to an article called The Top 5 Affirmation Pitfalls.

Since I’ve been talking about affirmations lately, I thought this might be something good to talk about.

The “pitfalls” the author gives are:

  1. Affirming with words that do not promote feelings.
  2. Your affirmations are in future tense.
  3. Not saying affirmations.
  4. Not taking action.
  5. Doubt.
Some people claim that affirmations are magical, but there is a real psychological action to them.
Affirmations are a way of focusing your thoughts. It’s a way of helping to reprogram your subconscious thoughts.
I went looking for some research on affirmations, because so many people believe they help so many things, and I was surprised at what I found. 
I did find a 2009 study that indicates affirmations are helpful in combating depression and anxiety, but I also found a more recent study that indicates that the psychology of affirmations is more complicated than most believe.
If someone is a positive person with healthy self-esteem, the affirmations worked a little bit. But for people with low self esteem, some affirmations made them feel worse.
While I believe affirmations can have a positive effect, I can also see this point.
When I was in my deepest depressions, nothing helped. I read Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life  about 10 years ago, and I threw it across the room more than once. I don’t remember a lot of specifics, but it felt like “fake it till you make it” to me, and there was no way that was going to work for me at that point.

And I’m someone that believes in this stuff.

So, while affirmations may not help people who are clinically depressed or naturally negative thinkers, if you are trying to become more positive about things in your head, give them a try.

If they make you feel worse – by all means stop and get some real medical help.

But if they do help you feel better and help you focus on your goals, then make sure you use positive emotional words, keep them in the present tense, and work to make them come about.