The Power of Self-Affirmations

I must admit the first time I learned about self-affirmations, I thought the idea was ridiculous. I remember thinking I can write or say “I am beautiful” or “I am worthy”  but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever believe it.  Undeterred, my therapist challenged me to just write down a few affirmations in a journal each day, even if I didn’t believe it.  I picked “I AM LOVED,” because I knew my family loved me so I couldn’t argue with that one. Gradually, I started adding some others to my list: “I AM WORTHY.” “I AM STRONG.” “I AM PERSISTENT.” These statements became my “go-tos.” My mantras. And though I didn’t always feel strong or worthy, I still wrote it. After all, that was our deal. I figured I had nothing to lose anyway so it couldn’t hurt to try it.  I decided to write them down before bed so at least I would go to sleep with a positive thought in my head rather than an endless cycle of self deprecation.

Then I took it a step further. I started to not just write my mantras or self-affirmations at the end of the day, but use them throughout the day. Whenever I had a negative thought, I would stop it and replace that thought with the mantra. So, “I am a loser” would become “I am worthy.”  Even if I didn’t feel worthy at that time, the mantra briefly interrupted my negative thought pattern and moved my thoughts in a positive direction.

At one point, I turned it into a game. For each negative or self-deprecating thought I had, I made myself think of 3 positive things. That really helped, (mostly because I didn’t want to have to think of three things). Often, I resorted to the same ones: thankful for food, shelter, my daughter, the sun, my physical health, my sight, my legs, etc. Expressing gratitude for all the things I had rather than focusing on all the things I didn’t have helped me to stay positive and keep my irrational thoughts in check.

Now I use mantras all the time. I repeat them in my head to counteract a feeling (e.g., thinking “I am calm” when my anxiety strikes). I post them on my mirror. When I speak at the hospitals, I give the patients written self-affirmations to remind them of their worth and value. Each of us is unique with different talents, strengths, beliefs, qualities, and experiences. Why not appreciate what we do have rather than resent what we do not? Why not embrace who we are rather than berate ourselves for all we are not? I believe in the power of self-affirmations, not just on low days, but every day.

By treating ourselves with the same love and compassion we show to those we love, we can begin to heal and learn to love ourselves.

My Favorite Affirmations:

I am hopeful.

I am worthy.

I am resilient.

I am smart.

I am kind.

I am strong.

I am thankful.

I am proud.

I am brave.

I am enough.

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