Do you know what positive afformations are? I didn’t either until just recently. They are a concept first coined by Noah St. John. In order to understand what afformations are, let’s back up a step first.
Have you ever tried to use positive affirmations for social anxiety? You tell yourself things like, “I am relaxed and friendly around strangers” or “People are fun to talk to.”
But no matter how many affirmations you tell yourself, it just doesn’t seem to make a difference?
If this is you, it could be that you need to add something else to your affirmations to make them stick a bit more.
I recently learned about what complements affirmations from Sebastiaan over at Social Anxiety Solutions. While I don’t fully support all of the methods that he uses, he has done a lot of deep thinking about social anxiety and has lots of good thoughts to share on the topic. I suggest having a listen to his podcast if there are specific issues related to social anxiety that you are having a hard time with.
Okay, getting back to your affirmations. What is it that you need to do? Get ready for it…. what you need to do is keep going with your affirmations, but also add in AFFORMATIONS.
Afformations are “postive and empowering questions you ask yourself” according to Sebastiaan. What you do is state your positive affirmation, but then ask yourself why it is true for you right now. The goal is to change your beliefs about yourself by starting to focus on what is good about you instead of what is bad.
So, what I’d like to do is give you a step-by-step plan for using afformations for social anxiety below.
Step 1: State Your Positive Affirmation
There is a whole list of affirmations that you can use for social anxiety. I’ll just include a short list for you below so you can get an idea of the types of things you will want to say to yourself.
- People love talking to me.
- I can handle any social situation.
- I am a social butterfly.
- I’m at ease when I go out in public.
- I accept myself as I am.
You get the idea. Some of these feel like a really big stretch, right? That’s okay. On to the next step.
Step 2: Ask Yourself Why Your Affirmation Is True
Next, you will be using afformations and asking yourself why these crazy positive affirmations you are using are true. The idea here is that this forces your brain to search for positive evidence to support your affirmation. And that’s a good thing! It gets you focused on the positive.
So, you might ask yourself:
- Why do people love talking to me?
- Why can I handle any social situation?
- Why am I a social butterfly?
- Why am I at ease when I go out in public?
- Why do I accept myself as I am?
Step 3: Answer Those Questions
Your brain is now searching for answers to those questions. You might need to stretch a bit, but come up with some answers that seem reasonable.
Here are some ideas:
People love talking to me because…
- I have interesting things to say.
- I ask them questions about themselves.
- I’m a good listener.
I can handle any social situation because…
- Even though sometimes I get anxious, I always make it through.
- I have strategies to keep me calm.
- I enjoy new challenges.
You get the idea, I won’t keep going through examples. If you find it really hard to come up with answers to your questions, it could be that your affirmations are too far out of reach: you can’t get on board with them yet. If that’s the case, you may want to choose some that are more realistic for you.
Step 4: Watch Your Beliefs Shift
The goal of all of this work is to see a shift in your core beliefs about yourself. Imagine yourself as a person for whom social anxiety is just not an issue. Certainly, there are people in the world who never think much about being socially anxious.
How do they view themselves? What are their beliefs about themselves in the world?
Most likely, they believe that they will generally be comfortable around people and that social anxiety just isn’t much of an issue for them. This is the goal for you; to keep working at changing your beliefs until social anxiety rarely comes up for you.
Step 5: Repeat This Every Day
If positive affirmations and positive afformations aren’t working for you, it could be that you are doing them enough. Imagine that person for whom social anxiety isn’t a problem. When they think about themselves through the day, what do you think they are thinking?
When talking to a stranger… “People like talking to me,” “I never run out of things to say,” “I’m a good listener,” “Small talk is easy for me.”
Think this isn’t possible for you? Why not?
If you keep repeating these things to yourself every day, and you keep looking for evidence to support it, eventually some of that has to influence your beliefs.
The goal here is that eventually.. your new beliefs will influence what you think, and your thoughts will influence how you behave. You will start to become more friendly, etc. just like you wish you could be.
In summary, the steps to take to start using positive afformations in your life include stating a positive affirmation, asking yourself why it’s true, observing shifts in your beliefs, and finally practicing these strategies every day.