The Benefits of Affirmation Journaling
Positive thinking is easy enough to talk about but for most people, much harder to put into practice.
It's a struggle to change the way you think especially if you’re particularly set in your ways or assume that aspects of your life are not in your control.
(the poor me syndrome)
With so much of our lives dependent upon the attitude we put forth into the world, you owe it yourself to try and make a positive, permanent change.
One technique for starting this process of self-improvement is through affirmation journaling.
Simply put, affirmation journaling refers to making a journal filled with affirming thoughts about yourself to help change the way you perceive the world from one of unhappiness and struggle to one of happiness and contentment.
Deceptively simple in its premise, affirmation journaling can be the key to true self-actualization if you know how to go about it.
It’s also fairly easy to start and keep up with, so there’s really no reason not to give it a try.
Let’s further dive into the benefits of affirmation journaling, how to get started, what you need to do to make it work, and what could happen if you’re successful.
Affirmation Versus Gratitude
Before we can begin down the path of self-improvement, it’s important we first distinguish between affirmation and gratitude.
Both are important for becoming a more complete and happy person, but we’ll only be focusing on the former today.
What is the difference, you may ask?
The line between the two can be a bit blurry given they both involve similar things like positive thinking and taking stock of your life, but the devil is in the details.
Essentially, affirmation is more about recognizing something about who you are while gratitude involves things that you have or that happen to you.
For example, you can affirm the fact that you are loved either by yourself or others while being grateful for the fact that you are loved in that way.
In the first part, you recognize that something is a fact that and remind yourself of it while the second has you feeling thankful for the positives in your life.
As said before, both of these skills are helpful for creating a better life for yourself, but we’ll only be focusing on affirmation for today.
If you’d like to introduce a bit more gratitude into your day, too, though, make a note of one good thing that happens to each day.
Knowing Your Goals
A big part of successful affirmation journaling is to know what it is you’re working towards.
What about your thought process do you wish to change in particular? What are you struggling with in life?
While more general positivity is always nice, it’s not nearly as effective as targeted affirmation.
First and foremost, you need to identify something that makes you unhappy.
Do you often put yourself down? If so, what for? Your appearance? Intelligence? Finances? Work ethic?
Whatever your common point of self-criticism is, identify it before you try to proceed any further.
Once you’ve done this, it becomes all about working towards identifying the cause of these thoughts and working to change them.
Identify Your Faults
This is also a good opportunity to reflect on why you wish to change the way you think in the first place.
Why are you endeavoring to start an affirmation journal and what do you hope to gain from it? Are you doing it for yourself or the approval of others?
What about these thoughts do you not like and want to change? If you can answer these questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you need to do to achieve real change and success in your journaling.
Creating Your Affirmation
After laying the groundwork, you can finally begin to try affirmative thinking for yourself.
Affirmative thinking can be broken down into four ingredients, the first of which is simply finding the right words to tell yourself.
Step #1 Concise choice of positive words.
Choosing a few simple (but concise) positive words to repeat is all it takes to start thinking more positively.
These will depend entirely upon the issues you were able to identify earlier, meaning you’ll want to target your affirmative phrase to combat the negativity impacting your thoughts.
When you’ve gotten the words you want to say together, you can next move onto visualization.
Step #2 Clear Visualization
Visualization refers to having a clear mental picture of what your words actually mean.
For instance, if your phrase is something like, “I love myself,” as a means of combating feelings of self-loathing or depression, you need to fully understand what you’re saying.
When you tell yourself, “I love myself,” you’re saying that you have a great deal of affection and appreciation for the person that you are now, faults and all.
This can be an extremely powerful thing to feel especially if you’re not used to it since it runs counter to what you normally think about yourself.
Step #3 Corresponding Feeling
You must connect the corresponding feeling to the visualization. A feeling is emotion, emotion is energy.
"I am happy". How does happiness feel? Visualize the energy that goes along with this feeling.
Step #4 Repetition
The third step is repetition. Repetition is how we are going to reprogram our subconscious.
Without repetition, the other two steps simply won’t matter.
Repetition is how you got to be where you are today, both in other aspects of your life and in the way you currently think of yourself.
For someone who lacks confidence or is insecure in what they do, their first instinct when making a mistake is often to belittle themselves for that fact.
We’ve all had moments like this where we mess up and immediately think, “You’re such an idiot,” to ourselves.
If this kind of reaction becomes a habit, though, a serious problem can develop.
This is the kind of problem we’re endeavoring to solve through affirmative thinking.
Rather than a negative response being our default reaction, we repeat our affirmation until it becomes instinct. Replace that negativity with positivity to help yourself grow rather than tearing yourself down at every setback.
Writing an Affirmation Journal
To begin, you obviously need a journal or something similar to write in.
It wouldn’t be much of an affirmation journal without one, you know?
While many companies make journals specifically for this writing purpose, a normal one will work just as well.
Style, color, page count, dimensions, and any other details don’t matter nearly as much as if you like it, so pick one that catches your eye and sticks with it.
Add Your Name Inside
When you’ve obtained a journal worthy of your affirmations, start by writing your name inside.
Plenty of them have space right at the start for this, but even if yours does it you should still do it anyway. This is less about putting your name on something you own and more of a silent acknowledgment that the things you’re going to write in here are your thoughts.
After this, you can finally begin your writing proper by outlining your goal.
Outline Your Goal
Give yourself a page or two to really go into what you hope to accomplish with this affirmation journal to both help keep you on track and to get words you might have otherwise only thought into reality.
Next, take a few pages to write down various aspects of your life whether they be positive, negative, or neutral. Organize them in a way that makes sense to you; say, physical health, mental health, financial health, etc.
So long as you can understand what you mean by the categories, you’ll be fine. This is to help you take stock of your current situation in life to see what’s helping or hurting you materially.
When all of that is done, you can move on to actually making your entries.
To best embody the idea of repetition, it’s a good idea to write at least once a day in order to form a habit. The ritual of writing in your journal itself can help to reinforce the affirmative thinking you’re trying to develop, too.
Each entry in your journal should begin and end with your affirmative phrase. If you struggle with feeling loved by others, for example, try to start each page with, “I am loved.”
After this, write down different things that happened to you during the day that reinforce this belief, like small gifts from friends or people saying things that made you feel appreciated.
Good and Bad
Additionally, you should make sure to note the negative thoughts you have during each day, as well. Simply ignoring bad things won’t make them go away so writing them down gives you the perfect opportunity to debunk them or deal with them on your own terms.
If you’re having doubts or self-conscious feelings, you could write down all the reasons that those kinds of thoughts don’t make sense.
Your affirmation journal is also a good place to help you plan out your day.
If you write in your journal before going to bed each night, keep your journaling very positive. Your subconscious is busiest while you sleep, so make sure you feed it nothing but positive energy right before you sleep.
Ultimately, the direction of your affirmation journal will be all your own.
These are merely guidelines on how to help reach success in your journey.
There are plenty of other ways you can use your journal to benefit yourself, so use what’s listed here as a starting point and adapt as you go.
Put Plans into Action
Thoughts are one thing but actually doing something is another. The process of thinking positively can be tough especially if you’ve never attempted this kind of process before. As such, you’ll need to take action if you want it to be a success.
When you discuss things you can do to improve your life in your journal, you need to have the discipline to actually carry out those plans.
If all you do is talk about how they can benefit you and how you should be doing them, you’ll just be left in the same situation as always.
Just like the journey to a physical place takes the effort of walking there, so too does the journey towards a more positive outlook take the effort of putting your plans into action.
The act of conscious affirmations, repeated over and over will allow us to reprogram our self-conscious. The act of affirmation journaling, writing our affirmations out each day is especially powerful if we do them right before we go to sleep.
I highly recommend you watch the two videos below. They are short and concise, only 5 minutes each so no excuses, watch them!