Why Self-Love Affirmations Work And How To Utilize Them To Your Advantage

By Reniel


Last Updated: May 25, 2021

It was 1954 when a kid (who would later on in life be referred to as “The Greatest”) paddled across the neighborhood on his bicycle in search of free food. There was an exhibition for black businesses and free candy, popcorn, and hot dogs were promised at the venue so the young boy got in and stayed. But after getting what he came for, he left the exhibition only to discover that his red and white Schwinn bike was gone.

Being furious, he told a policeman that what he desired most was to beat up the person who stole his bike. It was then that the policeman suggested that he had better learned how to fight before confronting people. This was the beginning of the boxing journey of Muhammad Ali.

Once he got into the boxing world, even before making a name for himself, Ali proclaimed himself “The Greatest”. Of course, many people cringed at this statement – expecting him to get humbled by eminent ruthless beat downs. But this was not the case, as Ali went on to stack victory upon victory.     

Ali’s belief was intoxicating, annoying yet admirable. He would make colorful statements about himself like “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee...”, and audacious statements like “Shook up the world… I am the greatest!....I am the prettiest thing that ever lived!”. Throughout his career, he would sing his praises and then fight like hell to defend what he believed with every fiber of his being. His affirmations were strong and positive.   

Of course, he didn’t win all his matches, but he was able to secure 56 wins whilst battling (and defeating) several world-renowned heavyweight champions such as Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Leon Spinks, Larry Holmes, and so on… He also won several awards and was given the honors of lighting up the Olympic Flame in 1996.     

After his death, an estimated 1 billion people watched the ceremony with the Pallbearers including Will Smith, Mike Tyson, and Lennox Lewis. Indeed, he was “The Greatest”.

It would seem Muhammad Ali’s positive affirmations about himself turned out to be quite true, and he loved himself enough to believe it even when he had no tangible evidence.    

“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I was really the greatest.” - Muhammad Ali, The Greatest.

The Science of Positive Affirmations and Why They Work

A lot of people associate self-affirmation with self-delusion and conclude that it is nonsensical, but this is a huge misunderstanding of what affirmation is. 

Whilst it is delusional to call yourself the fastest without even being an athletic person, it could be quite useful to say that to yourself if you were a runner - it could be the difference between success and failure.

The thing is the brain finds it hard to differentiate reality from imagination. The result is that it forces the body to respond to thoughts as though they were facts. It is the reason movies scare us, make us sad, or makes us happy – the mind feels we are experiencing those things directly.

When you are about to do a difficult task, and you feel you are not qualified or competent, the body responds in kind by being less charged up for the difficult task ahead, but if you had a firm belief, your body would get prepared for it.

Think about it, when you’re startled your body releases adrenaline (the emergency hormone) and you become prepared for danger. This phenomenon also occurs in all aspects of life. Your body responds to what it feels.

That is, when you feel threatened, your body readies itself for fighting, when you feel safe your body relaxes.

In essence, how you feel about something, or someone affects the way you respond. More importantly, how you feel about yourself influences how you act. Though, the mind can only prepare with what is available.   

If you really had greatness inside of you (as was the case of Ali), then affirming to yourself that you are “The greatest” would serve a useful role in unlocking that potential in you. But, if you are not that, no amount of affirmation can fix it.

That is to say, positive affirmations work when we are what we are professing to be - though unaware or in doubt.

In reality, this could be a salesman having a difficult day closing deals, but who has to remind himself that he is a great salesperson. It could be a woman struggling with her career who has to remind herself that she is, in fact, a professional and can pull through. 

Self-love affirmation is not the same as delusion, it is a subtle, yet clear, message to your “subconscious” that you can do something that you “consciously” believe you can do.   

The self-affirmation theory proposed by Steele in 1988 points to the fact that people like standing by what they believe themselves to be. That is to say, if we believe ourselves to be unlovable and incapable of success, we would struggle to care for ourselves or succeed. 

But, what is self-love affirmation?

Self-love affirmations are positive statements that we make to ourselves that help us overcome negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. They are words that motivate us and remind us of who we are. They are not lies nor wishful thinking – they are factual statements that need to be drummed into the subconscious.


Self-love is underrated and wrongly thought of as narcissism. Yet it is crucial for living a good life.

The love we have for ourselves influences our decisions and actions, the partner we end up with, and pretty much all other aspects of our lives.    

Self-love is about self-respect, self-validation, and being true to who you are. It’s about forgiving ourselves. It’s about acting in ways that help us grow, and become better people. It is about being our best selves for our sake and that of others.   


In our daily lives, we struggle with a lot of things. It could be our performance in school, work, marriage, or the darn piano lessons. But what is important is that we realize that it is just hard times, it doesn't mean we are less, and that we can make it.  

This is why we need affirming self-love. To believe in ourselves when the circumstances are indicating otherwise.

Talking down on yourself is not profitable in any way. You need to speak to yourself with love – remind yourself of all the things you’ve accomplished before, and how much you’ve survived already.

When we struggle to accept who we are, we should affirm to ourselves that we are lovable and wonderful. Because we truly are lovable and wonderful. Maybe we messed up big time, but who doesn’t?   

By repeating self-love affirmations, we rewire our minds to let go of limiting and negative beliefs by actively challenging and demolishing them.

When you make a positive statement about yourself and doubts creep in, it is important that you question the doubt, challenge and conquer it. This act causes your thinking to change, and in no time your actions and results follow.

This is the reason footballers love fans cheering them as they play. What we internalize (through conscious or unconscious affirmations) forces us to become those things – to unlock those potentials in us.  

Self-love affirmations can serve to motivate you, encourage a positive change in your life, or boost your self-esteem. It’s all valid- and can all be achieved with time.

6 Ways You Can Utilize Self-Love Affirmation To Your Advantage

  1. Repeating affirmations can help you remember who you are when in difficult situations. When struggling you can use self-love affirmations to keep in touch with your innate capabilities- which would have otherwise been drowned in the struggle.
  2. Engaging in positive affirmations can help you become more optimistic which then makes you try out more things, put in more efforts, and eventually achieve better results.
  3. Practicing positive affirmation also helps boost your confidence. Muhammad Ali used this principle to his advantage. His bold statements helped him believe more in himself and his abilities.
  4. Reciting positive affirmations also helps improve your mental and physical health. It helps relieve stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions which would have otherwise led to illnesses.
  5. Positive affirmations can all help you find and nurture better relationships as you become more relaxed, confident, and welcoming. An optimistic view towards life is pleasant so many people would rather be with you.
  6. It sets you for success by making you more conscious of opportunities and solutions. So that, rather than ruminating about problems, you begin to actively lookout for solutions

The truth is that everyone does it already- everyone speaks to themselves. The only difference is that when you get intentional about it (when you start practicing self-love affirmation) you would begin to catch yourself in the process of talking down on yourself, and you would then be able to switch it up - and say loving things to yourself   

At first, you might feel silly saying it - it might even sound ridiculous. But if you want to be more than you are today, and have the believe that greatness resides inside of you, then you might want to cultivate a habit of saying, like Muhammad Ali, “I am The Greatest!” – “I am smart”, “I am creative”, “I am lovable”, “I am hardworking”, “I am going to succeed!”, and [Insert your positive affirmation(s)]. 

If you're struggling to come up with your own affirmations, and I know it can  be hard, Daily Motivation has daily affirmations you can recite every day to help you find the best version of you


Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels


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