Make Your Business Affirmations the 5 Types of Talk Your Brain Likes Best

50 ways to love yourself and build your business

“Thrive talk instead of survive talk creates greater resilience,” says Bryan E. Robinson Ph.D. in his Psychology Today column devoted to The 5 Types of Self-Talk Your Brain Likes Best: “Negative, survive talk can lead to anxiety and depression. Positive, thrive talk can mitigate dysfunctional mental states and cultivate healthier states of mind.”

That’s what we want as self-employed people and small business owners: thriving and resilience rather than just getting by. And it’s good to know that there’s real science being positive self-talk.

Even affirmations? If you’re older like me you may remember Al Franken’s gentle roast of affirmations in his SNL Stuart Smalley character: I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me! In the back of your mind you might think affirmations are slightly embarrassing pick-me-ups with no lasting effect.

But psychologist Catherine Moore confirms that there’s science behind this kind of self-talk too (read here for her easy-to-follow review of the research):

“Science, yes. Magic, no. Positive affirmations require regular practice if you want to make lasting, long-term changes to the ways that you think and feel. The good news is that the practice and popularity of positive affirmations are based on widely accepted and well-established psychological theory.”

Combine Robinson’s five types of self-talk your brain likes best (self-distancing, relationship with your parts, self-affirmation, broaden-and-build, and self-compassion) with the confident knowledge that self-affirmations are backed by a growing body of research. Craft the affirmations you and your business need and begin practicing: I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and…

Self-distancing By referring to yourself in the second person (you) and/or the third person (by your own name), you insert some distance between yourself and your problems and anxieties, allowing room for perspective and empowerment.

  1. You, [insert your name here], can build multiple streams of income.

  2. You can learn what you need to make the money you want.

  3. You are improving over time in all areas of your business — marketing, sales, customer service, [fill in what else matters to you].

  4. You are turning your hobby and your expertise into a business you love.

  5. You find the opportunities and learning in the everyday situations and challenges your business presents.

  6. Your business is growing as expected, you can relax and enjoy the process.

  7. Your business makes a difference in the lives of your customers.

  8. You are good enough and smart enough to build the business you desire.

  9. You are the real deal, a happy and successful business owner.

  10. You are in the middle of living your dream, a dream you made happen.

Relationship with your parts Taking the concept of self-distancing to another level involves seeing oneself as a collection of many parts — body parts, traits, emotions, thoughts. Each can be considered as its own thing you can have a separate “relationship” and/or “conversations” with. In this way, you can both separate yourself from those things when needed for perspective, and re-integrate afterwards in a way that makes sense.

  1. I acknowledge my emotions, accept the insights they provide, then let them go.

  2. Thank you [anger, confusion, sadness, defensiveness] for showing up. Awkward timing, but what is your message?

  3. I set boundaries on negative thoughts and feelings that pop up so they do not dominate my experience.

  4. I am at peace with my past and beliefs, shortcomings, and behaviors that no longer reflect who I am.

  5. I accept that [fill in the blank] is a part of who I am now and that I can nurture and integrate that, or let it go and change or replace it.

  6. I pay attention to my energy shifts to show me what energizes me and what drains me.

  7. I pay attention to my jealousies and areas of resistance and what they show me about what I want.

  8. I use my fantasies, day dreams, and hunches to learn about myself and how to use my imagination to support my business goals.

  9. My ideas and intuitions are valuable, and I tap into and share those for the advantage of myself and others.

  10. I am multi-faceted and not defined by one thing: Each part contributes to who I am and what I bring to my business and I am greater than the sum of my parts.

Self-affirmation Studies show that self-affirmations aren’t hollow personal pep rallies, rather that they are “cognitive expanders” that encourage a larger view of ourselves, our abilities, and our innate worth.

  1. I honor and nourish myself and the path that I’m on.

  2. I am worthy of happiness and find contentment, validation, and purpose in my business.

  3. I deserve a business that uses my strengths and helps me create the life I want for myself.

  4. I believe in myself and my right to pursue my goals in my own way.

  5. I make choices that support the business and lifestyle I want.

  6. I make business choices that align with my values.

  7. I make a difference in the lives of my employees, vendors, and customers.

  8. I am secure in myself, my business, and my finances

  9. I am proud of how far I’ve brought my business and feel good about where I’m taking it going forward.

  10. I am on the right path — for me and for success as I define it.

Broaden-and-build Negativity can fester as your personal lens narrows and focuses on what’s not working, what you don’t like, or that nagging feeling that you did something wrong. Counter this with broaden-and-build talk. Expand your lens, see the big picture, imagine what all is possible and build on that.

  1. I have many skills, character strengths, and contacts to support my business growth, and am building more over time.

  2. I eliminate problems by focusing on creating preferred alternatives.

  3. I am able to ask for help and learn what I need to in order to tackle the business challenges I face.

  4. I employ creativity for fresh perspectives and to expand my options in any situation.

  5. I persevere, learn, and grow rather than shrink or quit in the face of troubles.

  6. I move beyond self-pity and discouragement to self-compassion, serving others, and new possibilities.

  7. My strengths and talents are greater than my struggles.

  8. I continue to expand my understanding of all I’m capable of and all that’s available to me.

  9. I take the long view on my business and have fun along the way.

  10. It is okay to be myself and grow my business from who I am and what appeals to me.

Self-compassion Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, forgive yourself. Soften the harsh tones and attitudes you take with yourself. Robinson says, “There is a direct link between self-compassion and happiness, well-being, and success.”

  1. I am not my mistakes.

  2. It’s okay to make mistakes — its how I learn, it’s part of the process.

  3. I soften the tone and attitudes I take with myself.

  4. One step backwards is part of two steps forward.

  5. I have the courage and the stamina to keep on going.

  6. I can say “no” and set boundaries — with others and myself.

  7. I replace the pursuit of perfection with a focus on excellence, learning, and understanding.

  8. I am not having a problem, I’m having an experience on a journey I chose to be on.

  9. Tomorrow is another day to try again, find renewed energy, and recommit to my business.

  10. I am grateful for all that my business currently is and what it contributes to my life and the world.


You get the idea. Don’t worry about being corny. It’s not corny to get your needs met, your mindset oriented, or your business dreams encouraged and validated. Be honest about what you need in the way of support from yourself and the universe at large. Get on your own side, follow the science, and feed your brain business messages in the forms it responds to best.