Lucky Monroe

Feeling down? Re-Wire your brain!


photo of head bust print artwork
Photo by meo on

I first started seeing, in real life how a healthy mind affects everything around you, including your finances. A year ago, mentally, I wasn’t in a healthy place, and I kept attracting individuals who were also not in a healthy place, which only subjected me to a harsh cycle of self-hate, low self worth and an unfulfilled life. However, little by little, I started implementing self affirming practices into my life, and honestly, I AM NEVER GOING BACK!

So, does it actually work? Well, I for one say 100%. However, I invite you to form your own opinion of such. The short answer? Yes and No. For it to lean towards yes, one would have to practice self-help techniques in a way that’s helpful. Now, the problem here is that it isn’t as straightforward as you might think. For example, there’s research showing that the classic approach of uttering positive mantras like I am a lovable person, can actually backfire, which happened to me multiple times, which only reinforced the opposite idea, that I wasn’t. People who say such things but don’t believe them may end up feeling worse afterward. But how do you start believing something you know, deep down is not true? If you want me to be honest, there is no one answer, rather a plethora. You must find one that resonates with you, embody it fully, trust the process and work hard to fight old habits. But hey, that’s only my opinion. This is a more promising way of approaching our problems. Engage in self-affirmation exercises, such as writing about the things you value, like your family or your career (a method like this is less dependent on an individual’s self-esteem). A solid body of research has built up showing that doing this can bolster people’s feelings of self-worth and make them respond more constructively to threats.

So back to my question, does self affirmation work? Can it lead to manifestation? Here comes the fun part. A new brain-imaging study published recently in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience has started to uncover what’s happening in the brain when people practice self-affirmation, helping to explain the technique’s apparent effectiveness and hinting at a simple way to enhance the technique.  Now here is the major key. Although there’s a lot of objective evidence showing the benefits of engaging in self-affirmation, most of its effects seem to go on subconsciously, making it difficult for people to reflect on and talk about why it’s helpful. So that means, the mind we don’t use to think, or recall or do any task that requires our immediate attention is not what we are targeting. It’s the calm, quiet mind, the one that’s always on, always internalizing ideas, and always being influenced, even when we are not aware. THAT, my friends, is what is controlling us, our surroundings, ideas, emotions, and our realities.

There are three main psychological explanations for why self-affirmation is beneficial: First, it’s simply just more enjoyable to dwell on what we value and love; second, when we’re feeling threatened by a particular criticism or failure, the technique reminds us of those things we value about ourselves more broadly, that are separate from the threatened aspect; third, by increasing our capacity to celebrate our self-worth, it can help us regulate our emotions……and everything else.

During the study, the 67 participants, 41 of which were women, were asked to list the following eight areas of life in order of how much value they placed on them: creativity, relations with family and friends, humor, independence, business or earning money, politics, religious values, and spontaneity or living life in the moment.

Later, as the participants lay in a brain scanner, the researchers asked half of them to think about their top-rated value. For example, someone who chose family and friends as their most important value would be asked to think about a time in the past when you had fun with family and friends. Effectively, this was self-affirmation being performed in a brain scanner. The other participants acted as controls, and they were prompted to think about past and future scenarios involving the item that they’d ranked as least important to them.

The researchers looked for and found neural evidence to back up the first two of the hypotheses for why self-affirmation works — the notion that it’s beneficial because it’s rewarding and pleasurable, and that it works because it acts as a defense mechanism by reminding us of the things in life that we cherish, thereby broadening the foundation of our self-worth. Specifically, participants in the self-affirmation condition exhibited greater activation in parts of the brain that are known to be involved in expecting and receiving reward, ready for the science words? (the ventral striatum and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex) than did those in the control group. Also, when thinking about what they most valued in a future context (e.g., “Think about a time in the future when you will have fun with family and friends”), but not in a past context, the self-affirmation group showed more activity in areas associated with thinking about the self (the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex).

Specifically, self-affirmation was associated with more self-focused brain activity only when contemplating future scenarios. This speaks to the most exciting aspect of this research: namely, whether taking a brain-based approach to self-affirmation can provide any insight into how to enhance the way the technique is performed. Before they tested their participants, Cascio and his team reasoned that because thinking about the future is associated with brain activity in some of the very same neural regions that they predicted (and later found) to be involved in self-affirmation, then it follows that performing future-based self-affirmation would be particularly effective. They predicted that, from a neural point of view, focusing on the future would reinforce the neural activation patterns that are associated with the self-affirmation technique. Assuming that this neural activity is important for the technique’s success, then doing the self-affirmation in a future-oriented way ought to give the whole procedure a proverbial turbo boost.

That’s exactly what the new results seemed to show. In the self-affirmation group, activity in reward-related brain areas and in self-related brain areas was greater when the participants were given future-based self-affirmation prompts. Also, comparing the self-affirmation group with the control group, the extra brain activity seen in the former group was accentuated when the participants were engaged in future-based self-affirmation.

Finally, and most important, the researchers found that the effectiveness of the self-affirmation was specifically correlated with levels of brain activity seen during future-oriented thinking. They know this because they looked to see how their participants (all of whom were sedentary and overweight) responded to health messages such as “People who sit less are at lower risk for certain diseases.

People can sometimes respond badly to messages like this, seeing them as a threat. The health message makes them feel bad about themselves. Self-affirmation can prevent this, researchers believe, because it reminds people that their self-worth has a broad foundation, and so the message about weight and lifestyle comes across as less threatening. This makes it easier to engage with the message and respond constructively, which is precisely what happened in this study.

The researchers found that the participants in the self-affirmation condition responded better than control participants to the health messages, becoming more active in the ensuing month after the study, as measured by accelerometers they wore on their wrists. What’s more, it was specifically activity levels in the reward-related and self-related areas of these participants’ brains during future-oriented (but not past-oriented) self-affirmation that correlated with their being more active in the month after the health messages, which entirely fits with the researchers brain-based reasoning.

So, do self affirming habits work? For me yes; for you? Why don’t you find out yourself? Either way, you deserve it. Here is a link that can possibly get your started. Comment your experiences below!

Later tribe,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: