Many of us spend a huge amount of time and energy seeking out the acceptance and approval of those around us. But it's actually the way in which we can love, accept and approve of ourselves which is the most important thing. Affirmations are short, uplifting statements that we voice to make us feel more positive about ourselves. To tell ourselves what we think and hope for ourselves, and to notice how that makes us feel. For some of us it's a delight to hear positive things. For some of us it's an uncomfortable experience. But in any case, when we tell ourselves positive, affirming things, we help ourselves to understand how we deserve to be treated, and support ourselves to feel more secure, grounded, mindful and content. Click here to read my comments in Marie Claire and here to read my comments in the Manchester Evening News all about affirmations. And read on to hear what I had to say in full.
What are the benefits of daily affirmations?
Believing that we deserve to do it. It’s not always easy to think about telling ourselves something positive. For some of us, it involves flexing a rarely used muscle. To consider complimenting ourselves, or highlighting something that we are doing well. This means that even the mere act of considering trying daily affirmations sends ourselves a signal. It signals that we are worthy, that we deserve positivity, and that we are worth being the focus of our own attention. This might be uncomfortable if we have low self-esteem or if we focus our time and energy on pleasing others.
Improving self-esteem, building new neural pathways. All of this means that if we persevere, the practice of trying daily affirmations can improve our self-esteem, and help us to challenge negative thought patterns. Neuroplasticity means that we literally have the capacity to build new neural pathways, to rewire our brains when we think positively and when we voice positive things out loud to ourselves. This can provide us with a cushion that helps us to cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
Role modelling. We might choose to try daily affirmations in private, or we might also choose to share our practice with our loved ones. If it’s the latter, then we are also role modelling this behaviour to our loved ones, and potentially encouraging them to think about how to boost their own confidence too.
‘Fake it til you make it’. Affirmations aren’t always built on a strong foundation of self-belief. Maybe we’re feeling a bit wobbly about our confidence or our faith in our abilities. So they can also play a role when we need to ‘fake it til we make it’, in adding a stepping stone of confidence to the foundations that are already there underneath.
Recovery from trauma. I’ve noticed something interesting about the power of affirmations when we feel stuck, or frozen, in past feelings. This can happen when we are triggered by events or sensory experiences. Suddenly we return to a past version of ourselves, when we perhaps felt unsafe, or insecure, or scared. So the affirmation often becomes something like, ‘I am ok now’. I’ve underlined the word ’now’ because that is the important part. It’s a way of soothing ourselves, perhaps even looking in the mirror, and reminding ourselves that we are not stuck in our past situation, relationships or sense of self. We are ‘ok now’.
Some examples to try:
‘I deserve to be treated well’. Many of us spend our lives looking after everyone around us. This caring, nurturing approach can make us a delight to be around. But it can also put as at risk of being manipulated or taken advantage of. So when we remind ourselves of how we deserve to be treated, we are protecting ourselves from being used or manipulated by other people.
‘I am beautiful, inside and out’. We are constantly assaulted by images and words that tell us how society expects us to look and act. This can make us question our own standards and expectations of how we feel about ourselves. So when we tell ourselves this, we are setting our own standards for the image and behaviour that we associate with beauty. It makes us walk taller, smile brighter, and combats our inner critic.
‘I am ok, now’. If we have been through difficult experiences, difficult memories and thoughts can return to us at moments throughout our lives. So it’s useful to use an affirmation like this to remind ourselves that we have survived. And that we are ok, now. So if something triggers difficult memories or feelings, we are able to ground ourselves in the present.
Keen to explore more?
I love working with people to help them to understand themselves, their relationships, and why they feel the way that they do. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch. Click here to contact me or click here to book a free 30-minute introductory chat.