Get more from your affirmations

I’ll let you into a secret… Cognitive Behavioural Therapists don’t really teach positive affirmations. The reason being that CBT is about finding a balanced alternative to a negative thought and is not so much about ‘thinking positive’ as some people expect.

So the idea of positive affirmations is one that hasn’t been on my radar until relatively recently.

However, the trend for positive affirmations appears to be growing and many people seem to find them helpful.

I used one myself this morning when I needed to have a difficult conversation and it was very helpful to me. If you are wondering, it was: ‘I can approach this conversation with strength and compassion’.

If I did teach positive affirmations, I would probably teach them like this:


Take small steps towards increasing positivity in your affirmations


If you currently believe ‘I am a bad person’ and your positive affirmation is ‘I am a good person’, it is probably a leap too far.

This is how people sometimes apply ‘positive thinking’ and it often doesn’t work, simply because it doesn’t feel believable. You can usually tell if you are trying to trick yourself into believing something you don’t!

Steps might include language like:

‘I am working towards believing I can be a good person’

‘Sometimes I feel like a good person’

‘I am doing the best I can to be a good person’


Make them your own


I saw a client recently who has been using positive affirmations from a list of somebody else’s affirmations. A list of affirmations or suggestions from others may give you some good ideas and help to get you started but it may ultimately be more helpful to word them in a way that is more personal to you.

The more personal you can make your positive affirmation, the more believable it is likely to be.

The more believable it is, the more helpful it is likely to be.

When you make your own, you can also make them situation specific as I did this morning. This may be of more use than something generic.


Use evidence to back them up


In CBT we use evidence for and against thoughts. When you can see that there is evidence against a negative thought, it undermines the believability of the thought.

Likewise, if you can find evidence to support a more helpful thought, it feels more believable.

So, carrying the logic forward, if you have evidence to support your positive affirmation, it is likely to feel more believable to you.

For example, if your affirmation is ‘I am a good person’ and today you did a favour for a friend or helped someone in need, the evidence fits the affirmation.


Nod… yes nod!

OK, this one is not mine. This was something I heard on the (awesome) Savvy Psychologist Podcast by Dr. Ellen Hendriksen who cited a very nifty psychological experiment. You can listen to the episode here:

In a nutshell, participants were asked to test a set of headphones while listening to either positive affirmations or negative statements by either moving their heads up and down or from side to side. Afterwards, their physical performance in an exercise task was measured.

Those who ‘nodded’ to positive affirmations performed the best and those who ‘nodded’ to negative statements performed least well.

The impact of the positive affirmation was boosted by performing a physical action ‘confirming’ the statement, even though the participants were not aware that this was what they were doing!

I highly recommend that you take a listen to the Savvy Psychologist Podcast!

Dr. Hendriksen has an abundance of helpful tips on a range of issues and in my opinion, has wonderful warmth and humour.


I would love to hear your comments about positive affirmations. Do you use them? Do they work? Are you already using these tips? Do you have other tips?

Thanks for reading!

Image credit: Pixabay


What is meditation?

A lot of people think meditation is about clearing your mind of all thoughts and focusing on nothing. However, as you might imagine, this is incredibly difficult to do!

The truth is that there are many forms of meditation and in most forms of meditation the aim is not to empty your mind altogether, rather it is about focusing your attention in a specific way. Many forms of meditation also involve focusing on the breath at some point within the practice.

In mindfulness meditation, the aim is to focus your attention in the present moment without judgement.

In loving kindness mediation, the aim is to focus on feelings of compassion for yourself and others.

In a guided relaxation practice, you are invited to focus on visualisation within your imagination and to notice what you can see, hear, touch or smell.

Any form of meditation can be beneficial within the workplace as it aids concentration, helps you to quieten down your mental chatter and reduces your body’s stress response, also known as your body’s fight and flight response.

Find out more about the benefits of relaxation for the workplace in this short video!


Want to learn how to recognise and manage workplace stress?

Join Flourish in Mind and Lemon Squeezy Wellbeing at our upcoming workshop: Workplace Wellbeing that Works!

There you will learn what stress is, how to recognise your unique stress signature and learn tools to manage workplace stress that can easily fit into your working day.

You will also experience a guided relaxation exercise to develop a visualization practice you can use time and time again at work or at home!

The workshop is developed and run by Jen Rawlinson bringing expert knowledge as a Mental Health First Aid trainer and Louise Aaron an experienced Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.

Find out more and get your ticket here:Workplace Wellbeing that Works!

We look forward to meeting you there!

Jen & Louise

My weird and wonderful experience of Bars and Access Consciousness

As a start to my personal wellbeing project to re-prioritise my self-care I attended an Introduction to Bars course and an Access Consciousness ‘Being Your Life’ course delivered by Jessica Summers.

Here is how it went…


You can find our more about Jessica Summers here:

Find out more about Bars and Access Consciousness here:


The images I experienced

I thought I would share the images that came up to me when I was being gifted Bars (gifted seems to be the term used in the Bars world) and in the process of the Being Your Life course. Make of them what you will! I’m not sure what to make of them myself just yet.

The first image that came to my mind during Bars was a still sideways image of a water droplet creating ripples in a pool. It was a vivid image but it passed by quickly.

A memory that came back to me was a time when I had stood up for myself in a way that was really out of character for me (I was actually telling someone where to go and it was in quite a public place).

The images that came to me in the Being Your Life course were partially guided and we were asked to imagine a ball of energy in front of us. This is similar to an image I already use sometimes for emotional regulation but in this image the ball exploded like a supernova.

I also recalled a dream I had a number of years ago, which was very random and vivid. I hadn’t thought about this dream for years and it was one of those dreams you wake up from and wonder how the hell your brain came up with it!

The sense of it was about expansion and connecting with something bigger and to me it was visually beautiful.




My reflections after the course

I’m not sure I can show all of my inner workings but here are 3 key reflections that I have come away with:

  • It is OK to explore and not to know all of the answers. If I follow my curiosity and interests, I can form my own path.
  • If I am ‘doing’, it is usually a means to an end. If I am ‘being’, it is an end in itself.
  • My power is in kindness.


I am aware that reading this back, it all sounds a little bit bonkers (particularly if you haven’t watched the video) but my idea was to share with you my experiences of different methods of self care and wellbeing and here it is!


What next

I plan to book in an appointment to get my Bars run and see what happens in a full session! Meanwhile, I would love to explore and experience some other forms of therapy (holistic or otherwise).


If you are a practitioner and you would like a review of your therapy and you are happy for me to write a blog about it, please do get in touch!

My personal wellbeing project

Prioritising wellbeing is difficult.

So far in my blog posts I have been offering tips and tools based mainly on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you to boost your wellbeing. The tips I write in my blogs are things I have used personally and used with clients.


However, I have come to a realisation that even though I use these tools myself, I am not always very good at prioritising my wellbeing and sometimes it can fall off my radar. My own wellbeing can sometimes get a little patchy.


I am used to looking after the wellbeing of others. I am less used to looking after my own. I’m guessing that this is familiar for a lot of people reading this too. It is so easy for wellbeing to be pushed further and further down your list of priorities.


So, I have made a decision to embark upon a personal wellbeing project and I would like to invite you along for the ride.


I am purposefully going to try therapeutic approaches and methods that are different from my own to get a broader look at the things that can help us in our self care and wellbeing.


I am going to commit to being open minded about methods and approaches that I might not have otherwise considered. (With my training in CBT, a heavy emphasis is placed upon the evidence base and clinical trials, but in my personal exploration I am going throw out my pre-conceptions about what ‘works’ and find out what works for me.)


I will blog (and maybe vlog) about my experiences to give you an insight into some different types of therapies and wellbeing methods. Hopefully it can give you a little more information about what is out there and help you embark upon your own wellbeing journey too.


As well as taking care of my own wellbeing and helping people to see a variety of different approaches to wellbeing, I hope that I can be helpful in promoting the work of other wellbeing practitioners. I would love to be able to support my fellow therapists, coaches and entrepreneurs to showcase their methods. I’d call that a win-win-win!


If you are reading this as a fellow wellbeing practitioner or coach and you would like a blog/vlog about your particular approach, please do get in touch!

Of course, I will be continuing to offer my usual workplace wellbeing sessions based on my training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.