Take a moment to visualize or think about what you might say to yourself throughout the day. Are you self-critical or make judgments about yourself? It is often easy to jump to the negative, and many of us have developed unhelpful thinking styles as a result. The cycle of negative self-talk contributes to low self-esteem, decreased mood, lack of confidence, anxiety amid many other things. However, evidence suggests that a regular practice of positive self-talk can lead to long-term changes in how we think and feel about ourselves. Positive self-talk, like positive affirmations, boosts our self-worth and self-identity through the practice of affirming the positives about ourselves and the world (Steele, 1988).
Can you imagine if we talked to other people the way that we can talk to ourselves? I would assume that quickly people would not want to be around us. If we truly take the time to notice what we say to ourselves, we may recognize that we are often too hard, hold ourselves to high standards, and lack a certain level of empathy or self-compassion.
To increase positive self-talk, it is beneficial to first start by identifying our negative thought patterns. Take some time to notice how you talk to yourself. Taking note of where the judgment or negative thoughts stem from allows for the creation of affirmations to serve as reminders or reframes those unhelpful thinking styles.
Positive affirmations are created and practiced to affirm ideas, truths, mantras, thoughts, and actions to embody or cultivate in your life. They can serve as responses to negative statements or thinking patterns or serve as a mantra for what you want to believe about yourself. Positives affirmations can also work in conjunction with a meditative practice or serve as an intention to sit with. Positive affirmations can often start with “I” which can be beneficial as a grounding practice to remind your brain and your body that you are present and safe.
Take a moment to brainstorm potential statements to say to yourself. You can use prompts like: “I am…”, “I choose…”, “I accept…”, “I like…”, “I feel…” as examples to start. Additionally, you can write statements that resonate with you on cards, a sticky note, or your phone to keep with you and come back to throughout the day. Another way to incorporate affirmations is to make it a part of your daily routine, maybe starting/ending your day by repeating the statements that work as reminders for you.
The following are some examples of affirmations to get you started:
- I am
- I am resilient.
- I am good enough.
- I accept and love myself, thoroughly and completely.
- I believe in myself and my abilities.
- I choose to be happy.
- I choose to surround myself with supportive and kind people.
- I am allowed to be myself.
- Nobody but me decides how I feel.
- Today, I am going to trust myself and my instincts.
- I am liberating myself from fear, judgment, and doubt.
- I breathe, I am collected, and I am calm.
- I am safe.
- This is just one moment in time.
- I have come this far and I am proud of myself.
- I release negative feelings and thoughts about myself.
- I will do my very best.
- I am on a journey and allowed to grow.
- I am not afraid to keep going, and I believe in myself.
Ultimately the more we positively talk to ourselves, the more we begin to believe the good in ourselves and the world. As you engage in an affirming practice, self-esteem can increase, mood can boost, and the more we can strengthen our connection with ourselves!
Written by: Chardyce Kott, LSW