Get Courageous with Positive Affirmations


Affirmations whether used with scents that help us recall those affirmations or else are practiced by receiving positive reinforcment in other ways functions in a way that gives us courage. The summary of these two explanations below suggests that people benefit from affirmations as it gives us freedom from the idea we do not exist.

This proposes a deeper meaning realted to our deeper underlying fear of non-existence or death. However if one believes that all fears derive from the fear of death then by affirming we are alive and well and in control of our life then we can free ourselves from that fear and so have more courage.

To quit smoking or reduce stress, if we use a positive affirmation then we resolve in ourselves that we exist and we are not acting out of fear because we are more grounded in our being and our sense of self. When we have that then we are better able to look after our physical self and practice greater self love.

“Courage is the self-affirmation of being in spite of the fact of nonbeing. It is the act of the individual self in taking the anxiety of nonbeing upon itself by affirming itself either as part of an embracing whole or in its individual selfhood” (Tillich, 1952; p. 155).

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The theory of self-affirmation is a psychological theory that was first proposed by Claude Steele (1988) with the premise that people are motivated to maintain the integrity of the self. The ultimate goal of the self is to protect an image of its self-integrity, morality and adequacy. On the whole…  people respond in such a way to restore self-worth when their image of self-integrity is threatened.

In this theory, people would respond to the threat using the indirect psychological adaptation of affirming alternative self resources unrelated to the provoking threat

Self-affirmation: A strategy to reduce self-control failure

Published on March 26, 2009 by Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D. in Don’t Delay

Self-affirmation refers to behavioral or cognitive events that sustain, support and strengthen the perceived integrity of the self (Steele, 1988, cited in Schmeichel & Vohs, 2009). Examples of self-affirming events include:

  • receiving positive feedback from others
  • reflecting upon positive aspects of oneself

Another, and perhaps the most powerful, mode of self-affirmation is expressing one’s core values.

Their results also suggested that self-affirmation counteracts ego depletion by promoting high levels of mental construal. In other words, the process of self-affirmation changes the way we think about our tasks or goals, so that we think about our tasks in more abstract/value-related ways, as opposed to concrete, lower-level actions.

As the authors summarize their findings . . .
“The current findings extended the benefits of self-affirmation to essential volitional domains including pain tolerance, task persistence, and delay of gratification.

So how does it work?
In their discussion of self-affirmation, Schmeichel and Vohs draw on Terror Management theory.   This theory proposes that humans construct positive views of self because these views reduce the anxiety associated with awareness of death. In spite of the awareness of the inevitability of death, we are able to self-affirm our meaning, our sense of self.

and “The self whoseself-affirmation is virtue and courage is the self which surpasses itself” (pp. 18-19). Of course, this self-affirmation is a form of transendence that enables one to look past the immediate situation to find the strength to self-regulate.