Affirmations... Do they work or not?


Well, you might not like this answer, but I don’t think you’ll be surprised by it.

Question: Do affirmations work, or not?

Answer: It depends!

It depends on who you are, how you learn, what works best for you… but it also depends on how the affirmation came into your life and how you’re using it… If you’re able to believe it… I could go on! But for the sake of keeping this post simply useful and inspirational for you, let’s focus on to make an affirmation actually work for you. (And by “work” I mean produce the desired resulting feeling and/or situation!) Sound good?

First, let’s look at the number one reason (I believe) affirmations fail to work.

If you can’t truly relate to and believe the affirmation, it’s not going to work. Period.

So… if you got a gorgeous list of uplifting and perfect affirmations from an amazing blogger you love… as sweet as it was of her to make it, they might not work for you. Because they were written by someone else, with her beliefs and opinions and blocks and lessons learned in mind.

(Gorgeous photo by  Vana Ash  on  Unsplash  - edited)

(Gorgeous photo by Vana Ash on Unsplash - edited)


No matter how much love we put into writing affirmations for someone else, sometimes it’s just not what the person truly needs to hear.

The most powerful affirmations are written in your own words.

So… How do you write a powerful affirmation for yourself?

There’s more than one way to do everything, but here’s what I like to do!

1 | Take a good look at the limiting belief you want to shift.

Write it down. Really dig deep into the core of what’s bothering you. (This post on recognizing and releasing resistance might help with the process here!) Ultimately, you want to have a single sentence that sums up the belief you want to shift. It’s probably going to be ugly, you’re not going to like it.

But being able to look at it is the key to being able to shift it. Be brave and work hard on this step, it’ll be worth it!

Here’s are some examples of what this sentence can look like:

  • I am not enough.

  • When I use my voice, I’m annoying and needy.

  • I hate working.

  • I’m not good at finishing what I start.

  • I’m bad with money.

2 | Write the opposite!

This step is fairly self-explanatory. Write the opposite of your limiting belief. This is going to become your affirmation!

Important note: don’t feel like it needs to be absolutely perfect.

The more it is in your own words and full of your own inspired, positive energy (like when you feel super hopeful and inspired and optimistic!), the better it’s going to work for you. So don’t worry about it being a beautifully written work of art. Let it be what it is, I promise it’s exactly right. <3

Here are some examples based on the examples from step 1 up there:

  • I am not enough. > I am exactly enough.

  • When I use my voice, I’m annoying and needy. > When I use my voice, I am powerful. / I feel expansive when I use my voice.

  • I hate working. > I love working. (Not believable? Play with it more. “I find joy in my work.” “Working gives me amazing opportunities.” “I’m grateful for my ability to work.” Make sure it’s believable to you and also feels expansive and inspired, that’s what matters!)

  • I’m not good at finishing what I start. > I am such an awesome finisher. / I love finishing what I start. / It brings me so much joy to finish what I start.

  • I’m bad with money. > I’m proud of my ability to handle money. / I’m learning to handle money better every day.

3 | Prove it to yourself! Use actual events from your life recently to prove the affirmation true.

This is such a powerful step- don’t skip it! Once you’ve written down your affirmation, find its place in your life. Just like the limiting belief is backed by actual events and evidence from your life, you’ll find that the affirmation holds truth for you as well. You just haven’t been looking for it!

Reflect on your life. I try to start with the past 2 weeks, but you can go back as far as you want. Challenge yourself to create a list of evidence for that affirmation being true. Concrete moments in your life when it was true. Show yourself that the affirmation IS your reality already, and invite it to continue being proven every day.

This is how they start to really work!

I shoot for at least 15 points, and then challenge myself to add to that list every day for the first few days, and whenever I feel inspired moving forward, until the affirmation feels like such a natural truth that I don’t need to remind myself or convince myself of its truth anymore.

(This usually doesn’t take very long, honestly! After about 2 weeks, I’m pretty firmly convinced! It’s really powerful when these are in your own words and backed by evidence. You got this!)

Here’s an example using the full process of creating an affirmation:

1 | Identify the limiting belief: When I use my voice, I am annoying and needy.

2 | Write the opposite: When I use my voice, I feel expansive and powerful!

3 | List evidence for the new belief:

  1. I asked for coconut milk in my coffee last week, and the barista and I ended up talking about how awesome coconut milk is in that specific drink! Even though she doesn’t mind dairy, she loves getting coconut milk in that drink because it is AWESOME. I made a new friend because I spoke up, and it was fun!!

  2. I was waiting awkwardly for someone to move in the aisle at the grocery store… but when he took forEVER, I nervously said “excuse me, can I sneak past you?” and he chuckled and we got into a conversation about how hard it is to pick the exact spaghetti sauce his wife wanted. I ended up helping him out, cause I’m also picky about spaghetti sauce, and it was so funny. I felt powerful, I felt like when I used my voice this time, it created a connection with someone and it was beautiful.

  3. My dog was being really freakin’ annoying and I told him “No. Shhhh.” and he listened. It felt good to be heard, and I realized I am in charge of my own happiness, all I have to do is ask.

  4. My friend was having trouble with a problem in her life, and I felt a bubble in my throat when I wanted to offer some helpful insight. I was nervous it would make things worse instead of better. But then I remembered I can ask! So I asked her if she wanted me to listen, or if she’d like some loving insight. She wanted the insight, and I felt empowered because I used my voice to ask and to help. Using my voice was not at all needy or annoying.

  5. When I got a call with a job offer, the person was speaking so quickly before I even had a chance to tell them I wasn’t interested in working anywhere for $7.25/hour (thanks, no thanks!)… and at first I felt bad, like I was listening and didn’t want to tell them that was not even close to what I required for my time and energy… but then I realized I am allowed to own my space and speak my truth. I waited for the person to stop rushing through the offer and then calmly and confidently, I thanked him for his time and consideration, and let him know I wasn’t interested in accepting such a low wage. I suggested a more reasonable amount, and when he dove into a long-winded explanation of why he couldn’t pay more, I said, “thank you, but as I said, I’m not willing to work for so little. Good luck in your search, have a great day.” and hung up. I wasn’t annoying or needy for using my voice. I was honoring myself and it felt awesome. My energy didn’t need to be wasted feeling bad for having an opinion, that felt so good to notice!

  6. When my roommate had the TV up loud early on a Saturday morning and I was PISSED about it, I took a deep breath. And rather than stewing over it like I normally would, I poked my head out of the bedroom and said, “hey, I’m still sleeping, would you mind turning that down or using your headset please?”

    Every bone in my body was like “WOW you are SO annoying” leading into this, BUT then his response was, “oops, sorry. You bet!!” and it was great. There was no resentful petty passive aggressive gross feeling. We communicated, and it was great. When I use my voice, I am not annoying or needy, I’m just me. And it’s perfectly fine!

And the list goes on! I count every little thing. Nothing is too small to celebrate when I’m building an evidence list.

You can write shorter stories, I’m a writer and it shows but you definitely don’t have to write a book like that unless you want to. You can just note the time and place, or give the event a title. Whatever works for you is exactly enough.

So there you have it! You know how to write powerful affirmations that really work for you!

Give this process a try, and if you get stuck feel free to reach out for some assistance in the comments below!

Don’t forget to be gentle with yourself, play and have fun with the process, and know that you are exactly enough as you are. This new belief you’re bringing in, it’s just icing on the cake. You’re already freakin’ awesome. Promise.

Good luck, I’m wishing you the very best.

With love,

Jessica Peña

P.S. Want more of this goodness? Find me on Instagram! It was actually a question on Instagram that inspired this post! <3



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