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SCIENCE AND AFFIRMATIONS


Science and Affirmations

After failing my driving test twice I was extremely nervous about taking it for a third time. But this time for half an hour before my test I stood in front of the mirror and told myself I would absolutely pass this time, and I did! There is more and more research being done on how positive affirmations actually work. Affirmations are said to help with self-esteem and self-confidence and this is now being explained by neuro-science and better understood. Research done by Carnegie Mellon University* found that daily self-affirmation improved the performance of students, in particular those more prone to stress. But how does this work?


Our understanding about the human brain is developing at a fast speed. When talking about Plasticity in reference to our brains we are looking at the brains ability to rewire or reconfigure itself. The neurons in our brain talk to each other with an electrical signal. These links become electrochemical pathways, many of which are specific to certain emotions. One of these is oxytocin which relates to feelings of attachment and trust. This is the chemical released during breastfeeding and when mother and baby interact. It has also been shown to be released when two people first fall in love and has been linked to the ‘honeymoon period’ of dating. This chemical and others such as Serotonin effect how we feel because they interact with both the emotional brain (limbic system) and the fight or flight part of our brain (nervous system). When you think a certain thought these chemicals are released and create either positive or negative feelings depending on what the thought is. When positive thoughts are repeated we activate neural pathways. When we do this again and again these pathways become thicker and stronger. We are able to re wire our brains.




Parenting approaches such as Hand in Hand Parenting and attachment parenting emphasise the importance of the parent child connection. I see it with my own children all the time. After school, after screen time, in the morning or after any time apart they can feel disconnected and their behaviour goes ‘off track’. Bringing connection calms their limbic system and brings them back to being able to think rationally. This is one of the reasons schools are using Nurture Groups more and more. Evidence suggests that a child’s emotional well-being must be looked after before they can begin to learn. How can a child learn when their system is in fight or flight? We are now starting to understand more about how trauma can change the brains wiring. When a child has experienced trauma, feeling a positive connection can begin to rewire their brain in a positive way.



Researchers at the Annenburg school of communication* found (using MRI scanning) that affirmations activate the reward centres in our brains. There is also research to show that affirmations can enhance creativity. Affirmation cards for children can be used as Nurture Group resources, in Yoga, in Social Skills Groups or at home to enhance the parent child connection. They help to boost self-esteem and self-confidence in children. They help children to create more positive belief systems about themselves which counteract any negative messages they may receive throughout the day.


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*https://www.cmu.edu/homepage/health/2013/summer/benefits-of-self-affirmation.shtml

*https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/news/study-reveals-neural-mechanics-self-affirmation


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