PJ's Fitness Blog

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Are Affirmations Better as Questions?

afirmationsMy job changes every day. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much. New research comes out all the time, and each week  I get to learn new tips, tricks, and techniques that help people reach their health and fitness goals. This week I learned that affirmations may be even more powerful when they are phrased in the form of a question, rather than a statement.

Affirmations 101

I have instructed many people on the power of affirmations and how they are a powerful tool for helping us reach our fitness, health and wellness goals. I use them myself, and I have seen them produce miracles in many lives. Affirmations are a proven, effective way to reprogram your subconscious brain. This is so important is because your subconscious brain is the “boss” of you. It will make happen whatever it believes, through controlling your conscious and unconscious actions every day.

Good, but not perfect

You can use your conscious brain to reprogram your subconscious brain using certain techniques, and affirmations are one of these very powerful techniques. Many people have trouble with affirmations however, because since they are traditionally phrased as a statement, they can cause a conflict if you don’t believe the affirmative statement you are making.   Pounding away at it will effectively reprogram your brain over time due to the sheer volume of messages (it’s actually just a brainwashing technique), but it requires significant willpower to implement, because we are forcing ourselves to say something we don’t believe (yet).

Since most people feel this as an internal conflict, they stop doing their affirmations. Their mind fights against it and makes them forget, or they just don’t want to do it because the mental exercise is emotionally uncomfortable. Some even find that affirmation statements like “I am thin and fit” when they are far from it, even feels like a lie, which cause negative affirmations to follow, canceling out the positive ones.

Is there a better way?

I am always on the hunt to reduce the need for willpower, because I firmly believe that achieving true fitness doesn’t have to be a battle. This is why I was so excited to read the research study by Dolores Albarracin, published in Psychological Science, April 2010, Volume 21, Number 4. She discovered that phrasing affirmations as a question instead of a statement drastically increased success! When people asked –  “Am I going to exercise today?” instead of saying  “I will exercise today.”  – they were much more likely to follow through.

She found that framing the desired outcome as a question presented a challenge to the person instead of a requirement that they might rebel against. By asking themselves a question, people were more likely to build their own motivation. The results of this experiment showed that participants not only did better as a result of the question, but that asking themselves a question did indeed increase their intrinsic motivation.

I will. Will you?

All it takes is switching two little words in your daily affirmations.  Instead of “I will,” use “will I?” Try it and see. It makes a lot of sense to me, and it sure is easier in a lot of ways for many reasons, to perform daily affirmations without the tedious feeling of forcing a new belief. Will I be doing affirmations this way from now on? I think so. Will you?

Here is a hilarious video of the traditional way of performing affirmations. Watch it (it’s less than a minute) and get some laughter chemicals pumping and raise your metabolism a bit. Keep in mind, this technique still works, and is still the most effective in many cases, but I think professor Albarracin has done us all a huge favor with her breakthrough study.

I would love to hear some back-talk on this topic:

  • What affirmations can you to form into questions?
  • How is it working?
  • Will you share what you’ve found out in trying this?