What do you think of affirmations? I hate them. I’m sure some of you just gasped and thought what a bad attitude I have. Maybe I do. Maybe I should say some affirmations to change that. Oh hell, I’ll never get around to doing that. Oops! Even more bad attitude. Why don’t I like affirmations? Plain and simple – they don’t work. I find most of them trite and some downright condescending. However, despite my bad attitude regarding affirmations, there is, much to my chagrin, evidence to the contrary. One study, published in PLOS|one, and approved by the Carnegie Mellon University Institutional Review Board, involved eighty undergraduate students. Study participants indicated their perceived chronic stress over the previous month and were randomly assigned to either a self-affirmation or control condition. The students then completed 30 problem solving items under time pressure and in front of an evaluator. The findings showed individuals who were assigned the self-affirmations outperformed those in the control group. The author’s conclusions were that “self-affirmation may be a relatively easy-to-use strategy for mitigating stress and improving problem-solving performance in evaluative settings.” In another study, published in Psychological Science, researchers showed that self-affirmations Improve relational security and social behavior. The study uncovered the behavioral mechanisms underlying the rejection prophecy: “They demonstrated that relational insecurity (i.e., lack of confidence that one is valued by interaction partners) translates into a tense social demeanor that inhibits social warmth, which in turn results in a cold social reception from novel interaction partners that further reinforces the individuals’ relational insecurity. The rejection prophecy seems to result from insecure individuals’ feelings of inferiority, which result in a self-protective motivation to avoid social situations in which rejection is anticipated.” I don’t know about you, but I relate all too well to this cyclical nature of feeling less-than. Researchers helped the participants develop affirmations based on their level of insecurity in social behaviors. The results were that participants who were initially insecure, and completed the self-affirmation task grew more secure over the following two months and also behaved in more relaxed and positive ways with the experimenter. For my own peace of mind, I scoured the net for studies that prove that affirmations don’t work. I simply wanted to back up my personal theory that they are a waste of time. I failed in my search. There were some articles that had titles, such as “Why Affirmations Don’t Work,” but in the end the titles proved to be misleading and they were more about finding different ways to use affirmations. On the other hand, there is an ocean of articles and studies, like the two above, regarding the effectiveness of affirmations. Despite these findings, I’m still not a fan of affirmations. It’s a personal thing. They do, after all, require effort. You can’t just write one down and post it on your bathroom mirror. You have to commit saying the affirmations daily over an extended period of time. While you may feel some benefits almost immediately, it sometimes takes months to gain their full benefit. Instead of affirmations, I choose meditation. I adhere to the Tibetan Buddhism methods which involves chanting, as well as the more familiar silent practice. I’m guilty of not doing it lately as much as I should and it shows. My husband, Maurice, says it’s obvious to him when I have or have not meditated, so clearly they are effective to me. If you use self-affirmations, please don’t be offended by my silly gibes. I have personally seen the positive effects they’ve had on other people. They just aren’t my thing. On the one hand I believe maybe I should give them another try, yet, one the other hand I wonder why I would bother when I found something that works for me. Maybe the true purpose of this post is not to prove that affirmations work, rather, maybe we all need to find our own path to find the methods that works for us. Whatever method you choose, I hope it helps you achieve balance and peace of mind. I’m interested to hear what works for you. Do use affirmations? If not, is there any other practice you use to seek peace?