The start of a new year is a natural time to look forward—to think about what matters most to us, clarify what we want to focus on, and set goals or intentions for the year ahead.
But let’s face it, it’s easy to get pulled off course—to fall back into old patterns of behavior and thinking.
To help, I’ve created a list of positive affirmations for the new year that can help you cultivate a positive mindset and stay committed to your personal growth.
What are affirmations?
Affirmations are short, simple statements that validate and encourage us. They can increase motivation and help us persevere. They also help us focus our time, energy, and thoughts on what’s most important to us.
Our thoughts influence our feelings and actions, so when you find yourself struggling or getting off track, reading or saying affirmations can help you refocus on your goals and create feelings of optimism or a positive mindset.
Repeating affirmations is especially helpful if you tend to rely on others to affirm your feelings, choices, needs, or self-worth as they can help you develop the ability to affirm yourself and decrease your reliance on others to affirm your self-worth.
Are affirmations useful?
Many people like affirmations because they’re a simple way to focus on their emotional strength and resiliency. However, if affirmations are going to work, they need to be realistic and authentic. Some affirmations can feel overly optimistic or unbelievable. For example, telling yourself “I am full of peace and joy” when you feel tense and worried probably won’t feel true or helpful.
Research by Wood et al. (2009) bore this out. They conducted two studies that showed that participants who had low self-esteem felt worse after repeating the affirmation “I’m a lovable person” or focusing on how that statement was true. This study underlines the importance of choosing affirmations that feel true and reasonable to you.
Instead of repeating affirmations that don’t ring true, I recommend acknowledging your struggle (that you feel tense and worried) and focusing on how you want to cope—what you want to think, feel, and do in response to your stress and anxiety—or your ability to cope. You might say, “I will lean on others for support” or “I can tolerate uncertainty”.
Tip: Adding the phrase “I will practice” to affirmations often helps them feel more realistic. For example, if leaning on others for support is hard for you, you might feel more comfortable saying “I will practice leaning on others for support”.
Affirmations for the new year
- Every day is an opportunity for a fresh start.
- I am focusing on what’s most important to me.
- I am doing what’s right for me. It’s okay that some people do not agree with or support my choices.
- I accept that I can’t control others. I release them to make their own choices.
- I can lean on others for support.
- My worth isn’t based on other people’s standards and opinions.
- I am setting boundaries for my own well-being, not to control or punish others.
- I am limiting my exposure to people who treat me poorly.
- I can overcome obstacles, figure things out, and persevere.
- I can tolerate uncertainty.
- I notice my emotions and am curious about what they’re telling me.
- My past does not define me.
- I notice what’s going well in my life and am grateful for what I have and who I am.
- I am allowed to rest.
- I offer myself grace when I make a mistake or mess up.
- It’s not selfish to take care of myself.
- Ending or limiting relationships with “toxic” people is an act of self-care. I will do so thoughtfully and without guilt.
- My feelings and needs are valid. I don’t have to justify them.
- I’m choosing to think positively.
- My mental health is a priority.
- I’m proud of how far I’ve come.
- I will not give up.
- I love and respect myself.
- I am worthy of love and respect.
How to use affirmations
Begin with two to four affirmations. You can choose some from the list above, modify them, or write your own. Remember to choose affirmations that speak to you and reflect your goals and needs.
People often create a daily practice of writing affirmations in a journal or saying them (aloud or silently) at the same time every day, such as when they first wake up. You may also find it useful to repeat your affirmations during moments of stress as you would a mantra. Periodically, check in with yourself to see if your affirmations need to be adjusted or replaced with new affirmations.
Wood, J. V., Elaine Perunovic, W. Q., & Lee, J. W. (2009). Positive self-statements. Psychological Science (20)7, 860-866. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02370.x
©2023 Dr. Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Canva.com.