Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by Dr. Alberto Solà

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Affirmations can change your life, and can help you immensely on your path to recovery.  Although affirmations don’t work for everyone, they are very effective for many, and many successful people from all walks of life use them every day to help them reach their goals, including famous people like Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey, Jay Z, and Will Smith, to name a few.  An affirmation is simply a statement about yourself, spoken aloud frequently, that you truly believe.  Whether it’s something that is true in the present, or something you want to be true in the future, affirmations can help guide you in the direction you wish to continue or go.

How Affirmations Work

There have been numerous studies about the use of affirmations, and many have shown that they are very effective.  A 2013 study from Carnegie Mellon University that was published in science journal PLOS ONE found that the use of positive affirmations boosted problem solving abilities in stressed individuals.   An article published in the Annual Review of Psychology that reviewed numerous studies found that self-affirmation is useful in curbing negative outcomes such as stress and self-protective defenses, and promote healthy outcomes like positive relationships, good health, and the pursuit of education.  And, a brain-imaging study published in 2016 learned by watching people’s brains illuminate during brain scans as a result of hearing certain positive statements also subsequently lead to certain positive behavior in the weeks and months that followed – showing, scientifically, that affirmations do have a motivational effect on a majority of subjects.  More studies continue on the benefits of affirmations every day, and although their effectiveness may be a surprise to some, the fact is, they work!

But how do they work?  Although the specifics of exactly how affirmations work on the brain are not yet known, some of it is just common sense.  First of all, people love to hear good things about themselves – and it’s great to be saying those good things to ourselves with conviction!  Affirmations help us to build our own self-worth and self-esteem, and as a result we can handle challenges more easily as they come at us.  If we are afraid to fail, affirmations can give us the confidence we need, and remind us of the positive qualities within ourselves that will help us to succeed.

Affirmations are a way to program our minds to believe a stated concept as truth, and in doing so, we actually will it to become truth.   In some ways, our minds don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy.  This is especially evident when we watch movies or read really good books.  We often will react to these mediums as if what was happening in the story is real; we will truly feel fearful when watching a scary movie, or we will cry real tears when a character in a novel dies.  That’s because for a moment, our mind believes it is really happening, right now and in the present.  By stating in an affirmation the outcomes we hope for in the future as if they were true in the present, our mind will in some ways take them as truth, and will subconsciously work towards making that truth a reality.

How Affirmations Can Help in Recovery

Affirmations can be a great help to anyone, but they can be especially useful for people who are in recovery.  Some days during your recovery, you will think to yourself that you cannot do it, and you will want to give up.   You will wallow in self-pity and will feel that this is simply too difficult, and not worth it.  However, with the use of affirmations, you can pull yourself out of that funk and get back on track.  Affirmations can help you to overcome self-sabotage and negative thoughts.  They can help you visualize the positive future ahead and can help you learn how to believe in yourself.  With practice and perseverance, you can continue to move forward on your sobriety and stay clean and healthy for the rest of your life.

Remember, though, affirmations can go both ways.  Most people tend to think of them in the positive way and that is certainly the way they should be used.  However, affirmations can be negative as well.   We generally refer to negative affirmations as negative self-talk, because that’s truly what they are.  We all know how negatively effective talking down to oneself can be. If you say you can’t do something, it’s likely that you can’t.  Don’t get caught in the negative self-talk rut.  Keep in mind that if negative self-talk is so effective, it makes logical sense that with the cultivation of a positive affirmation practice in your daily life, affirmations can work the other way, too.

How to Create & Use Affirmations in Your Life

Beginning a positive affirmation practice is simple – you just have to truly believe what it is you are saying, and stick with it!  Your attitude is everything in this practice.  Make your affirmations reasonable and attainable; don’t pressure yourself to be perfect, just move towards positive goals.  The process here is to create statements that stick with the conscious or unconscious mind, and to reinforce those statements every day.  Some tips for writing your own affirmations and starting an effective affirmation practice are:

  • Keep your affirmations in the present tense. Use phrases like “I am” and “I do” rather than “I will” or “I am going to.”  Keep them simple.  Use first person (“I”) whenever possible.
  • Speak your affirmations out loud for five minutes three times a day. Looking in the mirror and saying them to yourself helps, but that isn’t necessary every single time; more important is the repetition, habit, and frequency.  Incorporate this repetition into your daily routine – try repeating them to yourself during your commute, before meals, as soon as you awaken, or before you go to sleep.
  • Speak as if your affirmations are already true, even if they are things you are currently struggling with.
  • Deeply feel the affirmation in your body as you repeat it. Take deep breaths.
  • If you get tired of saying your affirmations, alternately, consider writing them over and over again.
  • To take things a step further, ask a close friend to say the affirmation to you to help reinforce it.


Sample Affirmations

Of course, it’s usually best to write your own affirmations.  Affirmations you write yourself are very personal and can be very meaningful coming from an individual to one’s own self.  However, here are a few examples or affirmations to get you started on this powerful practice.

  • I am in charge of my own life.
  • I make positive decisions.
  • I love the person I am becoming.
  • I am worthy of love and success.
  • I can and I will.
  • I am becoming a better me.
  • All of my problems have solutions.
  • I am strong and healthy.
  • I avoid temptation.
  • I am getting better every day.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am not that person anymore.
  • Obstacles are stepping stones.
  • One day at a time.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.
  • My health comes first.


At Clear Sky Recovery, we want to help you begin immediately to become free from drugs and alcohol and begin the walk on the healthy path to recovery.  Our facility in Cancun, Mexico offers ibogaine detox to anyone struggling with addiction, and we are confident that we can help you.  Our intake specialists are standing by to speak to you about your unique situation and the ways in which we can help.  Please give us a call today.