Affirmations are something you may have heard of before but haven’t necessarily put into practice in your life. Affirmations are great to achieve different objectives and help you shift your thinking. Affirmations for sobriety can also be extremely beneficial. This guide explores what affirmations are, how they work, and then gives you 10 affirmations for sobriety that you can put into practice immediately.
What Are Affirmations for Sobriety and How Do They Work?
Affirmations are statements said with confidence about something you perceive to be true or that you want to make true.
You may not even realize that you’re using affirmations already with every thought you have and everything you tell yourself. The problem is that those affirmations may be more negative than they are positive.
When you’re repeatedly telling yourself something negative, it’s much more detrimental to your mental health than you may even realize.
For example, if you are in recovery and you’re constantly telling yourself you can’t do it, and you can’t stay sober, that’s a negative affirmation. You’re training your brain to see that as the truth.
Some meditation experts compare affirmations to the idea of a garden. The affirmations you’re telling yourself each day are seeds you’re planting initially. Then, as you strengthen those affirmations, you are tending to those seeds and helping them to grow. The seeds require nurturing to grow, so your repeated practice of using affirmations is nurturing.
In even simpler terms and affirmation means you are declaring something to be true. You are letting yourself know, and you are letting the universe know something is true.
So what about if you’re saying something that isn’t yet true? Isn’t that inauthentic? For example, maybe you’re reciting affirmations for sobriety, but you’re still in active addiction. Is that a negative thing?
No—you are letting the universe know what your intentions are and setting those intentions and goals is an extremely important part of recovery. Some people view the use of affirmations that aren’t necessarily true yet as a way of manifesting those affirmations in their lives.
For example, an athlete might use powerful affirmations about winning before a game actually occurs.
Affirmations allow you to not only manifest what you want or need or in life, but they let you be in control of your mind and your thoughts. Learning to harness your thoughts and your mind and have more control over them can be extremely beneficial in sobriety.
The Science of Affirmations
Before exploring specific affirmations for sobriety, you may want to know a little more about how repeating short, positive statements can have a real impact on your life.
Research shows that an estimated 80 percent of our 50,000 subconscious thoughts that we have each day is negative. That’s constant negativity that we’re reaffirming in our minds, and yet we aren’t even aware of it. By using positive affirmations, you’re becoming more conscious about the thoughts you’re having. You’re learning to control and remove the negatives and replace them with positives.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) and Affirmations
There is real science behind positive affirmations for sobriety or any other purpose, and it lies in a part of our brains called the reticular activating system or RAS. The RAS is a collection of neural connections in the brain with some significant responsibilities.
These neural connections filter the information that goes into your brain. They serve as the messaging pathway for information that moves between the conscious and unconscious mind, and they control sleep-wake and sleep-alertness cycles.
The RAS helps your brain filter out the most important information so that you’re not overwhelmed with sensory experiences. It’s sometimes referred to as filtering out the white noise and giving our brains only the most important information.
The messages that get through the RAS? The most relevant at the time.
The science behind affirmations relies on the fact that when you are repeating strong affirmations, it conflicts with existing beliefs in the brain. This means you are creating a sense of conflict between what your brain believes and what you’re telling it, but that’s an important part of changing your unconscious mind.
However, over time with more and more affirmations the messages that you’re making most salient and important are going to pass through the RAS. Affirmations help keep your goals and objectives at the forefront of your mind. That then helps them eventually reach the subconscious mind.
Do Affirmations Always Work?
Some people have found affirmations don’t work for them, so why is that?
Researchers and therapists have a theory. Sometimes if you have a negative belief or thought that’s so ingrained into your unconscious thoughts and minds, it can overpower a positive affirmation. We may not even be aware of this.
As an example, let’s say you’re using affirmations for sobriety and you’re telling yourself that you can stay sober. If you had a traumatic childhood and you constantly had people you loved telling you that you weren’t enough or you couldn’t do it, those experiences that are rooted in your unconscious mind may overpower the positive work you’re doing with affirmations.
So what can you do about this?
- Create a list of what you perceive to be your flaws and the things that you think about yourself that are negative or the things people have told you in your life about yourself that are negative.
- Look for patterns or themes that run through these lists. Once you have these things written down, start thinking about if it’s possible that you are holding onto these thoughts about yourself.
- Create a positive affirmation for the negative thoughts or perceptions you hold about yourself. Use extremely powerful meaningful words to combat the negative patterns you identified in your first list.
- Spend around five minutes a day speaking your affirmations out loud. Try to do it at three separate intervals throughout the day to reinforce it. You might also want to journal and write down your affirmations.
- If you have someone you feel comfortable with, have them also repeat the affirmations to you whenever possible.
You may wonder how long it takes before you start seeing positive changes from your affirmations. There isn’t one specific answer to this question. However, it does take time to retrain and reprogram your brain and your thought patterns. Some experts believe you can start changing your brain if you do affirmations for 30 days, but for some people, changes may occur in a shorter period, and others may take longer.
10 Affirmations for Sobriety
Your affirmations can be deeply personal to you, but the following affirmations for sobriety can help you get started on your own journey.
- I deserve great things and I’m worthy of great things.
- I forgive myself for things I did while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
- My strength is stronger than the temptation of drugs and alcohol.
- I am in control.
- I am making progress every day.
- I can do this, and I will do this.
- The past doesn’t control me now.
- I am strong.
- I am becoming the person I want to be.
- I control the narrative of my life.
Are these the only affirmations for sobriety? Absolutely not. Your affirmations should be defined by your values, what’s important to you and your objectives. These can give you a good place to start, however.
Do you use positive affirmations in your sobriety? If so, what do you find most helpful in your practice?
Power Thoughts Meditation Club. “What Are Affirmations?” Accessed January 28, 2019.
Hogan, Eve, “Affirmations: Why They Work & How to Use Them.” Spirituality Health. December 30, 2011. Accessed January 28, 2019.
The Daily Goal Getter. “What Are Affirmations & How Do You Use Them?” February 9, 2018. Accessed January 28, 2019.
Alexander, Ronald Ph.D. “5 Steps to Make Affirmations Work for You.” Psychology Today. August 15, 2011. Accessed January 28, 2019.
Rampton, John. “Neuroscience Tells Us How to Hack Our Brains for Success.” Entrepreneur. June 16, 2017. Accessed January 28, 2019.
Blissful Way. “The Power of Your Reticular Activating System (RAS).” February 5, 2015. Accessed January 28, 2019.