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Episode 002: What's with Cognitive Declarations?

by Jess Gannon



In Episode 002 of the podcast, cognitive declarations take center stage as hosts Olivia and Eric delve into the science-backed practice of using affirmations to reshape the brain. This blog post explores the concept of cognitive declarations, their effectiveness, and how they can be adapted for first responders and other individuals in high-stress professions.


Cognitive declarations, also known as CDs, are a form of self-talk practice that aims to reprogram neural pathways in the brain. Unlike traditional chanting or mantra practices, CDs use short, concise phrases. The idea behind cognitive declarations is to communicate direct commands to the subconscious mind, akin to training a dog with simple instructions like "sit" or "stay."


Affirmations have gained recognition in cognitive behavioral therapy and are backed by scientific evidence. By repeating positive statements about themselves, individuals can challenge negative self-talk, enhance self-esteem, and foster resilience. Research even suggests that affirmations can influence physiological responses, such as heart rate variability, further highlighting their potential benefits for overall well-being.


Olivia shares her personal journey with cognitive declarations, starting with traditional mantra practices and gradually incorporating English phrases tailored to the needs of first responders. She emphasizes the importance of making affirmations culturally informed and relatable, using language that resonates with the target audience. Olivia's innovative approach includes incorporating curse words to add power and authenticity to the self-talk process. Olivia describes how she overcame intense fear during a fire academy exercise by repeatedly affirming, "I'm a fucking badass." Such experiences demonstrate the potential of cognitive declarations to empower individuals and change their mindset in challenging situations.


"And I have first-hand experience of it working because I went through a fire academy. I loved slash hated every minute of it. I was going through a smoke trailer. I was in a confined space. I was asking myself why I volunteered to do this shit. My teacher wouldn't let me out even though I asked him to let me out. He said no. So the only way I was going to get through it, as I said to myself, I'm a fucking badass. Look at me fucking go. Look at me go. I'm such a fucking badass."

The conversation shifts to the lack of mental training in high-stress professions like public safety. Eric highlights the crucial role of mental resilience and suggests that cognitive declarations can fill this training gap. By incorporating CDs into daily practice, first responders can strengthen their minds, increase stress endurance, and combat issues like burnout and mental health challenges.


Cognitive declarations offer a powerful tool for transforming negative self-talk into positive reinforcement. As science-backed practices, they have the potential to reshape neural pathways and enhance mental resilience. By adapting affirmations to individual needs and incorporating them into daily routines, individuals, especially first responders, can harness the transformative power of cognitive declarations to build stronger minds and combat the unique challenges they face.


Head on over to the podcast page to listen to the full episode and let us know what you think about cognitive declarations! While you're there do us a favor by liking, sharing, subscribing, and leaving us a 5 start review!

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