Self

46 Best 'What-If Affirmations' To Open Your Mind & Unlock Potential

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One of my favorite mindset-management tools is the "iffirmation." Nope, not affirmation. Iffirmation.

Affirmations are also mindset-management tools. Affirmations are statements that we are trying to get our brains to believe. “I am good enough” is an affirmation.

Many of us hear that affirmation and have an automatic “yeah, right” reaction. In other words, our brain’s first response is to reject it because it sounds so implausible.

This is in part because it’s a statement. Statements give our brain no wiggle room — we are either good enough or we’re not.

Since we’ve spent years believing that we’re not good enough, our brain automatically selects that option and rejects the alternative.

What is a 'what-if affirmation'?

This is where iffirmations come in. Iffirmations are “What if” questions.

Their question format allows them to slide in through a side door. They aren’t statements, so they’re not telling the brain to believe something improbable.

They are simply inviting curiosity. They are merely wondering if there is a possibility that this could be true. This makes our brains much more receptive to them.

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Ask yourself, “What if I am good enough?”

Instead of rejecting this iffirmation, we find ourselves wondering what it would be like to know that we are good enough. And now, because we’re focusing on this topic, our brains are creating more neuronal connections around it. The brain changes based on what we focus on – this is neuroplasticity. The more you ponder the idea of being good enough, the more space your brain devotes to this topic. This means you are more likely to keep thinking about this topic.

Clearly, we want our brains to keep considering the idea that we’re good enough. Putting it in the form of an iffirmation helps us get there more easily.

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If you’re interested in changing the way you think about yourself or the way you approach your life, try some of these iffirmations. I’ve organized them by topic. Pick whichever ones resonate with you, or make up your own. They will need to be repeated; the brain typically requires repetition to make lasting changes.

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46 what-if affirmations that open your mind to possibility

For general well-being

  • What if I could loosen my expectations of how life “should” be?
  • What if life is not supposed to be smooth and easy all the time?
  • What if I could focus more on what I want and less on what is getting in the way?
  • What if I focus on what feels meaningful and what lights me up?
  • What if I don't focus on unhelpful thoughts, feelings, or people?
  • What if I believe that I deserve compassion and love?
  • What if I can find the time to take care of myself in meaningful ways?
  • What if I could make today a better experience just by how I approach it?

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For self-acceptance

  • What if I am good enough, right now, without having to change anything?
  • What if I am not shameful?
  • What if I am not inferior to anyone?
  • What if I deserve as much respect as everyone else?
  • What if I decided to respect myself?
  • What if I am worthy of living my life as I want to, even if other people disapprove?
  • What if I could stop wondering what other people think of me?
  • What if I could stop focusing on my insecurities?
  • What if I could loosen my expectations of how I “should” be?
  • What if I stopped saying “should”?
  • What if I could see that I deserve to take up as much space as everyone else?
  • What if I started voicing my opinions, wants, and needs?
  • What if I realized that my inner critic is supposed to make me feel bad, not tell me the truth about myself?
  • What if I only spoke to and about myself kindly, the way I talk to my friends?

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For perfectionism

  • What if I am fully acceptable as I am, without being perfect in any way?
  • What if I could let go of trying to have it all together?
  • What if I realized that no one actually has it all together?
  • What if life could feel richer if I stopped trying to be perfect?
  • What if my attempts at perfectionism are robbing me of the ability to be authentic?
  • What if others prefer imperfect people?

RELATED: 4 Ways To Stop Letting Your Perfectionism Control Your Life — For Good

For anxiety

  • What if I could look for the interesting bits in life instead of focusing on the potential problem areas?
  • What if I could be curious about any upcoming changes, and about life in general?
  • What if I could do what feels meaningful even though I also feel anxious?
  • What if I treated my anxiety like an annoying roommate – just because he’s talking doesn’t mean he’s saying anything true, helpful, or relevant?
  • What if my anxious thoughts are not accurate?
  • What if worrying is a waste of time?

RELATED: 4 Ways To Stop Worrying About Every Little Thing (And Get Out Of Your Head)

For depression

  • What if I deserve compassion for feeling this way?
  • What if I can offer myself compassion for having to feel this way?
  • What if I can do meaningful things even though it doesn't feel good or meaningful right now?
  • What if I can do a small thing today and recognize that as helpful?
  • What if my depressive thoughts are not accurate?
  • What if I am not the burden I think I am?

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For body image

  • What if I could see that my body is not shameful — ever?
  • What if my weight is not an important part of who I am or how I live my life?
  • What if weight and health are not as related as I have been led to believe?
  • What if I stopped buying into the false news that my body is supposed to look a certain way?
  • What if I could choose to focus on more meaningful things than how my body looks?
  • What if I could respect my body for the fact that it single-handedly allows me to live?

Yes, this is a big list, and not every "iffirmation" will apply to your situation — right now. But if you establish a habit today of repeating the "iffirmations" that resonate with you, you might find that the others could prove useful down the road. 

RELATED: 5 Simple Affirmations That Can Get You Through (Almost) Anything

Suzanne Manser, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and expert in eating disorders and anxiety. To learn more about how to change your relationship with yourself and your life, visit her blog and join her on Instagram: @drsuzannemanser.

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