Affirmations are positive, present tense statements. We say them as if the statement is already true. Most of us use affirmations all the time, without realising it. Do you identify with any of these?
These are all examples of my negative self-talk (or affirmations). Negative affirmations often come from things other people have said – teachers and parents in particular. They were true because I believed them, and I had plenty of evidence to back up my beliefs too. In fact, I’m still telling myself I am not great with names, so guess what? I’m not! But I believe I have the power to change this by changing my self-talk to something more positive.
So isn’t this just wishful thinking? Well, affirmations work because our mind runs on patterns, and it will do everything it can to prove itself right – from filtering what we notice through to self-sabotage. Many of these patterns have been running for years – for example, the maths one was from primary school, and so whenever I approached a maths problems or a sum, I would get anxious and think, oh no, I’m not good at this, this will be too hard for me, and so on. Do you think it’s easy to do a sum with all of that going on in your mind? Nope. My mind was setting me up to fail.
So, in order to overwrite the negative beliefs or negative self-talk, we need to give it something else to ‘say’. By repeating positive affirmations, they eventually become part of our new reality, and our mind starts trying to work to prove us right.
The power of positive affirmations is well known by athletes and sports psychologists. Most athletes and sportspeople use affirmations (and visualisation) as part of their training routine.
In the context of birth, positive affirmations are useful as one of the tools to help us overcome our negative thoughts and experiences about birth. If we go into labour with all of our old, negative beliefs about birth unchallenged, then our subconscious will cause us to want to escape the situation, because it believes it isn’t ‘safe’ for us to be in labour. This will cause a physiological response that will make normal birth much more difficult, as we feel stressed, anxious and afraid of what is happening to us.
However, if we can give our subconscious some new beliefs about labour and birth, then there is much less likely to be any conflict between your body and your mind when you go into labour.
Here are some examples of positive affirmations:
My body softens, opens and relaxes more and more as my labour advances
All of my feelings are valid
I feel the love and support of others around me
My baby knows all is well
Birth is a safe and wonderful experience
I trust in my ability to give birth
My body knows exactly what to do to birth my baby
I am strong, confident and assertive
My body is completely relaxed
I feel the surges move through my body and know that all is well
I breathe calmly to oxygenate my blood and allow my uterus to work efficiently
My body knows how to grow and birth my baby
I relax and allow birth to happen
I see myself handling everything beautifully
I find it easy to speak up for myself and ask for anything that I need
Pick your favourites and write them on post its or postcards and pop them around the house where you will see them. Say them to yourself whenever you see them, and watch your confidence expand!
Photo by David Salafia, CC BY
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I'm Liz Dew, founder of SheffieldHypnobirthing.com and I love a good chat about birth. This blog is where I explore some of the things that I find amazing, frustrating, or fascinating about birth and birth culture. Grab a cuppa and dive in.