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For some of us when we think of positive affirmations, we are reminded of Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live.

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and dog-gonnit, people like me.”

It seems silly, hoaky and soft, not a real tool that we would use to improve our emotional well-being. Or is it?

As it turns out, scientists have been conducting studies on whether or not positive affirmations affect the brain and if those effects are positive. What they have found is that positive affirmations are effective. In fact, not only are they effective in promoting health behaviors in high-risk populations, but also improving academic performance in minority groups

If used consistently, studies found that positive affirmations can help individuals  maintain a positive self-view and that threats to perceived self-competence are met with resistence. When threatened, self affirmations can restore self-competence by allowing individuals to reflect on sources of self-worth such as core values (Cascio, et. al 2015)

The study did find, however, approaching it from the classic approach of affirming positive matras about yourself like, “I’m lovable” can actually backfire. For people who don’t actually believe them, these personal mantras can lead them to feel worse because doing so reminds them why they feel they aren’t lovable.


Studies have found that writing self-affirmations from the perspective of your core values are more far more effective. Write about the things that you value and turn them into an affirmation. For example, if you value your friends and family, you could affirm something like:

“My friends and family are a powerful and positive impact in my life.”

“I love my family and they love me.”

“My friends and family are a source of joy in my life and help me when I am down.”

If you value your work and career, you could try on something like:

“I value the work that I do.”

“My work makes a positive contribution to my community.”

“I am passionate about my job and my passion fuels my work.”

“I appreciate my job and the financial abundance it brings into my life.”

So go ahead, give the values-based affirmations a shot. There’s science behind its effectiveness in improving resiliency. Of course, we’re never opposed to you sitting in front of a mirror and affirming how great and wonderful you are.

Check out some fun self-affirming resources below including the study that was discussed in this blog