What are words of affirmation? Positive Affirmations & Love Language

What are words of affirmation? Positive Affirmations & Love Language

Affirmation is the act of declaring and asserting that something is true or exists. And from this definition, what are then words of affirmation?

Words of affirmation are simply statements spoken or written, that we want to assert as truth.

In this article, I’ll go through what positive affirmations are (and how you can use positive affirmations for mental health) as well as how words of affirmations can be used as a love language.

Table Of Contents

You may also be interested in: How to Use Positive Affirmations for Anxiety

How Does Words of Affirmations Work?

how does positive affirmations work - words of affirmation
Image by Josh Riemer

Scientifically, in our brain, there’s a huge amount of brain cells. And each thought, feeling, and belief we have is a connection between multiple brain cells. The first time we think of something, we create a new connection between X amount of brain cells. And for each time we repeat the same thought, the stronger that connection becomes, and the easier it is for us to believe the thought as truth. And with time, that connection becomes automatic. It becomes unconscious. It becomes our belief.

It’s basically as “simple” as that, even though that was a simplified explanation. But now you know why practicing affirmations and saying words of affirmations to oneself and others truly work.

What Are Positive Affirmations?

One type of words of affirmations is “Positive Affirmations”, which you may have heard in the sphere of spirituality, self-help, and meditation.

Positive affirmations are words of affirmations that are uplifting and supporting ourselves (or others). For example, if we want to be happy, we can practice stating the positive affirmation “I am happy”. It is not about saying the words, it’s about feeling the meaning. Again, and again, until your brain has created the connection of that belief in your brain so much that it becomes a reality.

I am smart” – An example

what are words of affirmation
Image by Annie Spratt

When you are born, you are born with many brain cells, but not that many connections expect for those needed to keep you alive. Think of a connection as one thought, fact, or belief about the world. But when you are 7 years old, your parents tell you for the first time that “You are smart”. And you believe them, so you start to think “I am smart“. This is the first time you’ve had this thought, and a new connection has been created in your brain.

In the following weeks, months, and years, you think the statement again and again. “I am smart. I am smart. I am smart”. Every time you think that thought, it becomes deeper imprinted in your brain and it becomes a truth for you over time. You now have a self-belief of being smart. And it gives you a lot of positive effects: You act as if you’re smart! You believe in yourself in school, at work, when learning. You are smart, so you can learn and do anything! And this will most likely result in a life where you are successful in both school and your career, and you’re not afraid of learning anything new.

But what if instead of “I am smart”, you learned to think “I am dumb”? And what if you repeated that affirmation for yourself again and again? Would it make it true? No. Of course not. You are still the same. No matter what affirmations and beliefs that you learn to believe about yourself, you are still you. And so positive affirmations about yourselves will always serve you better in life than negative ones. It’s just a matter of choosing what to believe. And you need to become aware of what beliefs about yourself you have that don’t serve you well.

You are not your beliefs

You are not your body; you don’t say “I am leg”. You are not your possessions; you don’t say “I am bed”. And you are not your thoughts; you shouldn’t say “I am dumb” or “I am depressed”

You only have thoughts and emotions. But you are not defined by them.

So, instead of thinking: I am depressed or I am worthless, you think: I have depressive feelings or I have feelings of being worthless. And you can learn to let those negative feelings go by using positive words of affirmation. But don’t define yourself by temporary thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

Positive Affirmations for Mental Health & To Change Beliefs

Now when you’ve realized that your beliefs about yourselves are only constructs of your own mind, you can start to take control and change your beliefs and the way you think. You can do this by using words of affirmation to change your patterns of thinking.

You need to create new connections in your brain cells that serve you better. Positive beliefs about yourself will always serve you better than negative ones.

You need to start thinking, writing, and saying statements that are positive about yourself, that you want to be true (because they will be). If you want to become happier, start stating “I am happy”. If you want to feel more alive and happy every day, start stating “I am alive to the joys of living”.

Positive Affirmations for Mental Health

Positive Affirmations are best when they are personal (tailored to your own unique situation and thoughts), but to give you some ideas, here’s a list of positive affirmations for mental health.

  • I let go of all negative and toxic thoughts
  • I am alive to the joys of living
  • My anxiety/depression doesn’t define me
  • I speak kindly and respectfully to myself
  • What’s meant to be will be
  • I am relaxed and calm
  • I am kind to myself and the people around me
  • I am loved
  • I love and accept myself

What Will Happen When You Start To Practice Positive Affirmations?

The first time you use a new positive affirmation you may feel weird. This is because it’s unfamiliar thought. Anything unfamiliar will not feel natural – until it becomes familiar (through repetition). The thought won’t be integrated into your sense of self or your beliefs of the world, in an instance.

But the more you practice saying a positive affirmation, the stronger the thought and belief will become in your brain. And with time, that statement will become a truth to you. You will believe it to be true, and you will act accordingly, and so it will become true. If you think that you are happy, and you believe it, then you’ll start to feel happy. But it’s important to remember:

Don’t just say the words, feel the meaning. Evoke the feeling of your statement.

And it takes practice. I try to do it multiple times a day. Every time I catch myself acting and thinking something about myself that I don’t want to think, then I practice an opposing affirmation to change that. For example: If I catch myself thinking “I’m ugly”, then I’ll correct my thought to “I love and accept all of me”. With time and practice, the positive affirmation will become stronger, until that positive thought will become the default.

For some people, this shows effects right away, but it may take a few days, or weeks or months. It all depends on how strong your opposing beliefs are and how intuned and aware you are of your own thought patterns.

Words of Affirmations to Help Others

Kindness is contagious - Words  of Affirmation
Image by United Nations

You can also use words of affirmation to help the people around you to believe more positive things about themselves. And this is something that I believe in and encourage everyone to do. Say positive statements about the people around you, both to them directly, and behind their backs. Talk good things about people, and good things will happen.

It can also go the other way around as well of course. There’s a lot of toxic and dangerous people who manipulate the people around them to believe negative and hurtful things about themselves. For example, there are parents who tell their children that they aren’t capable, or that they’re worthless or unworthy. Even if it’s 100% untrue!

So be very careful about who you listen to, and who you allow saying things to you. Some people will consciously, or unconsciously put you down and give you limiting beliefs that stop you from living a happy and fulfilled life. And it may already have happened to you, even if you’re not aware of it.

What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are things you believe about yourself, others, and the world that are limiting your own possibilities. Many of your beliefs can absolutely be false.

You may believe “I am not capable of getting good grades/getting a good job/becoming rich/being desired/finding love” or “It’s impossible to survive as an artist/a writer/a YouTuber/doing what I love”. But those beliefs may very well not be true. You have to become aware of what you believe and be ready to challenge them.

Recommendation of a great podcast about limiting beliefs by Science & Spirituality on Spotify.

That’s why you should be aware of your beliefs about yourself, others, and the world. A lot of things are not true, even if you believe it to be.

If you love people around you, give them positive words of affirmations instead of negative ones. Don’t throw insults or put people’s confidence down (even if you are angry), because it can have a lasting effect.

What Are Words of Affirmation as a Love Language?

Another way to use words of affirmation is by speaking it as a love language.

There’s a great model about The 5 Love Languages, about how people show, and appreciate love and affection in 5 different ways. By identifying which love language you and your partner (or friend, or family member) have, you can learn to show each other love and affection in ways that the other person will appreciate the most. Sometimes you may think you show your love well, but if the other person speaks another love language, then they won’t feel that love.

The 5 love languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

If your partner/friend/family members language is words of affirmation, then he or she will highly appreciate positive affirmations. Some examples are

  • Saying I love you and state reasons why you love them (only saying “I love you” may not be enough)
  • Sending unexpected messages (or notes) of appreciation and love statements
  • Compliments
  • Encouragement and acknowledgment

Since my love language is words of affirmation as well, I can attest that this is true and important. For me, something only becomes true and real once I hear it from another person. I can suspect that someone for example appreciates me, but if they don’t say it, then I won’t feel it. And the more times I hear it, the more I’ll believe it. Which is fully in alignment with how beliefs work in our brains.

You can take tests on the The 5 Love Languages website yourself to find out about your own love language. And it can be a good idea to make for example your partner do it as well.


Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful to you.

Wendy Zhou

UX/UI designer from Sweden. I write about design, tech, side projects, personal finance and cyberpunk. Contact: wendyzhou.design@gmail.com

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