What’s the state of your internal monologue? Are you encouraging? Or do you ridicule yourself?
Most of us use negative statements regularly:
- I’m not good enough.
- I can’t do it.
- I suck.
Whether we say them out loud or in our heads, they do nothing but convince us that we are not worthy of our goals.
But we don’t deserve this negative narrative.
Start speaking to yourself with the same kindness you would offer to the people you cherish.
The Stigma of Affirmations
I didn’t use to believe in affirmations.
I was deterred by the stigma surrounding people who use words to bolster self-confidence.
Affirmations were often demonstrated by seemingly neurotic, low self-esteem people in movies and TV shows. It gave the impression that affirmations are silly. “A reasonable person would never look in a mirror and tell themselves how great they are”—wrong.
Such negative representations of effective mental health practices keep many people from seeking the help they need. And the support they deserve.
It coincides with the misconceptions that self-care is selfish and that we shouldn’t discuss mental health.
Affirmations are effective, and we should not be afraid to try them.
What is An Affirmation?
Affirmations are positive statements that we use to refresh our minds.
And just as negative talk can erode our self-image, the opposite is true.
- I am good enough.
- I can do it.
- I’m great.
Affirmations can be used to target any part of your life or mentality that you want to change. Make a positive impact on your self-care, self-esteem, career, relationships, or mental health.
Benefits of Creating Your Affirmations
The internet has many examples of affirmations. And they’re helpful if you connect with the statements.
However, I believe that the most effective affirmations are those you create for yourself.
Why is that?
Well, let me tell you.
The process has its own benefits.
First, creating affirmations requires self-reflection. Because as we start identifying what we want to change, we discover the root of the negativity.
Second, once we know the root, the positive statements can target those specific negative thoughts.
Last, what we target becomes our goal. Goals provide a means to judge our growth. And seeing our growth encourages us to continue on our journey.
Features of An Effective Affirmation
1. Positive vibes only.
An affirmation should be positive.
Try not to include any statements that allude to the negative thoughts. This will only draw focus to the negative.
Try not to include words like don’t, won’t and can’t.
Examples of weak affirmations:
- I don’t suck.
- I won’t tell myself I can’t do it.
- I can’t say I’m not worthy.
We want to rephrase the complete sentence into something positive.
2. Be realistic.
Ensure your goal is believable and achievable. You may be discouraged if it is too far out of your grasp.
Don’t be afraid to set smaller goals while you progress to the big ones.
Say your goal is to get a promotion. That big goal is your endgame.
Set small goals to help get you there:
- Grow your confidence.
- Start telling yourself how well you do your job.
- Start growing your leadership skills.
- Identify your weaknesses and consider how you can turn them into strengths.
Create affirmations to support each of these goals.
You can also use affirmations to prepare for this journey. For example, use phrases like “I am open to…” and “I am in the process of…” to help you negotiate with your negative mind.
Use your affirmations to inspire: you may not be there yet, but you’re working on it.
3. Stay in the present.
It is best to write in the present tense using I and my phrases like “I am…” or “I can…” or “My strengths….”
You want to influence your mind’s acceptance that you already possess these positive features.
4. Focus on the self.
Use affirmations to positively change the things you can control.
Instead of affirming, “My co-workers will like me,” try, “I can accept if they don’t.”
You cannot control what other people think or do. But you can control your reaction.
This journey is about you. Accept yourself, love yourself and grow.
And understand that you may outgrow the negative influencers in your life.
5. No deadlines.
A sure-fire way to disappoint yourself is to set a progress deadline.
Sometimes the negative thoughts have deep roots. They’ve had years to grow.
And while we can encourage change, we cannot force it. The change will come as you practice your affirmations and work towards your goals.
So try to keep your affirmations free from time expressions like “this time next year,” “by the end of the month,” or “in 30 days.”
6. Short and sweet.
Keep the affirmation short and to the point. It should be memorable.
You will be repeating your affirmations multiple times a day. And you don’t want to get caught up in trying to remember the wording.
As you begin practicing your affirmations, you may decide to edit the phrasing. That’s great!
Adjust the statements to suit your needs.
Create An Affirmation in Four Steps
Creating an affirmation only takes a few steps.
1. Set up your page.
(a) Add a title.
The title is entirely optional but can help keep you organized. The title may be especially beneficial as your journey begins branching into different areas.
- Affirmations for self-care
- Affirmations for my career
- Affirmations for emotional intelligence
(b) Divide the page into two columns.
Either fold a page in half or draw a line down the center.
2. List your negative qualities.
In the left column, write your negatives.
Try to be as specific as possible.
To help you create this list, you could refer to your journal entries, take time to self-reflect, or consider feedback from others.
I will use the example of “I feel uncomfortable standing in front of a class.” (I think first-time teachers and anyone who has hosted a meeting will understand.)
But this is very broad. Yes, I wish I was more comfortable, but what qualities hold me back?
I want to focus on what makes me feel uncomfortable by asking myself questions:
- What is the cause?
- Am I afraid?
- What specifically am I afraid of?
- Am I nervous about my skills as a teacher?
- Am I nervous about how my students will behave?
- Do I feel under-prepared?
Through this process, I may realize the problem stems from an old memory of tripping in class. (I move a lot while teaching, and I’ve bumped into everything!)
In my list, I will write: “I am afraid of making mistakes.”
3. Write your affirmations.
In the right column, rephrase the negatives into positives.
- What are the positive aspects of these qualities?
- How might the “weaknesses” be useful?
- How would you encourage your friends if they said these things about themselves?
Try to use strong words. A thesaurus helps change your wording from good to great.
Remember: you can edit the affirmation at any time.
Let’s write an affirmation for my “I am afraid of making mistakes” example.
Now, let’s figure out the perfect phrase:
Every mistake is a chance to learn.”
- Too many words.
- “My mistakes
are learning opportunities.“
- I can get better wording.
- “My mistakes influence progress.”
- Perfect! (I used a thesaurus.)
This affirmation is positive, realistic, about me, has no deadlines and, most importantly, is short.
It also encourages my mind to forgive and view mistakes positively.
4. Stay to the right.
After you write your affirmation, scratch out the negative thought.
It’s finished. Take it off your list and out of your mind.
And highlight the affirmation in a bright colour.
Practice Makes Impact
You want to remember to practice your affirmations daily.
Display the affirmation.
Don’t share it online. But put the affirmation somewhere you will see it.
I like to keep my affirmations on sticky notes, posted next to a mirror or on my closet door.
I use bright colours to connect my mind to the affirmation. For example, I may highlight my affirmation in orange. Then if I use my orange highlighter at work, I will say the affirmation.
Say the affirmation.
Self-improvement is all about practice. And we practice positive thinking by affirming positive thoughts.
Speak the affirmation out loud for five minutes, three times a day. You can set the schedule, but the standard practice is morning, afternoon and evening.
Try saying the affirmations while looking in the mirror. Make eye contact with yourself. Don’t rush it. Let the phrases sink in.
Try to include your breathing exercise:
Deep breath in → Hold → Exhale slowly → Speak your affirmation
But what if you’re at work or out with friends? Try to write your affirmation multiple times in a notebook. You may also use the Notes app on your phone. This exercise reminds you to think of your affirmations.
Share the affirmation.
If you have a safe person supporting your journey, share your affirmations with them.
For one, they can provide feedback to make the affirmation stronger.
And for another, they can repeat your affirmation to you.
The purpose of an affirmation is to change your self-image. And some of the negative images we have about ourselves come from external factors. So having another person re-affirm that you have these positive qualities is invaluable.
Read more from the pros (I have no affiliation with these websites, but have found them useful on my journey):
My First Affirmations
Most people who provide how-to lists don’t offer examples like this. Perhaps it’s because it’s terrifying to show our vulnerabilities. But this is the purpose of this blog. I hope you will find it helpful.
These were the first affirmations I ever wrote for myself. They took all night as I kept narrowing down the negative side. I really wanted a clear base to build from.
Looking at these examples now, I think they could use some improvement. However, at the time, they felt right, and they supported me.
After writing these affirmations, I wrote them on a post-it and hung them next to my bedroom mirror.
I felt ridiculous when I started using them, as I still felt the stigma. But I wanted to make positive changes, and I trusted the judgement of my friends who used affirmations.
I started saying them when I was getting dressed, during my lunch break and through my nightly shower.
I did find six affirmations challenging to manage at first.
It was challenging to remember all six and their exact wording. Plus some of them are just too long.
I would start by creating only one or two at a time and slowly adding more.
And edit them as you need to.
Have you ever created an affirmation? What advice would you share?