Sunday, August 14, 2011

Doctor, does positive affirmation really works?

"So Doctor, does positive affirmation really works and helps me with my depression?"

My simple reply is that, "It really depends."

In my opinion, it is more likely to be effective if you keep the following simple rules in mind....
  • It has to be realistic
  • It has to be believable to you.  This is what I think is the most important feature.  For example, you cannot tell yourself that you still look young like a 21yo when you are 50.  But what is more "believable" is that you can say, "Iam pretty good for a 50yo."
  • We communicate with our "subconscious mind" through a number of senses, so the more senses we employ, the better.  What do I mean by this?  Well, when you try to say something positive to yourself, say it, hear it, feel or sense it, and visualize it.  (Note: smell, taste and touch is not as useful but can be useful in some situations.)
  • Your behaviour has to be congruent with what you say.  For example, you cannot say, "Iam going to feel great today and things will be good" when your body posture and tone of voice is that of someone who is feeling down and fatigued.
  • You have to mean it because if you don't, your "positive affirmation" will just come across as pure "sarcasm".
In essence, the use of "positive affirmation" is one of the tools of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Try to do it more often.  A gratitude diary is in essence the same.  I think that it can be a useful tool to remind our "subconscious mind" that not everything is doom and gloom.  Unfortunately, the media sometimes does not help with this aspect.

Dr Vin Tran
MBBS FRACGP Qld Australia