The words we tell ourselves and the messages we convey through our own thoughts can play a huge role in how we feel about the world, in our mental and emotional well-being, and even our physical health. Negative self-talk can actually be detrimental to your health. On the flip side, positive affirmations have their place in the big-picture of trying to live your best life.
Okay, is anyone else hearing Stuart Smalley in your head? 🙂
Despite positive affirmations being somewhat of a joke in society, with some making fun of those who think just having a positive attitude can make a difference, the truth is that research backs up the fact that what we tell ourselves about ourselves DOES impact how we feel about ourselves. If you tell yourself you’re not any good, you will start to believe it.
So how do you start to think more positively (and more lovingly) toward yourself? Some days are going to be harder than others. But overall, practice and repetition are going to be critical so that even when you’ve having a bad or stressful day, you can still tap into some of those positive habits from the days when things weren’t so stressful.
Here are some ideas of exercises to try making small changes in your thinking:
- Become aware of your thoughts and make an effort to notice at least three things per day which bring you joy; a sunset, the feel of your child’s hand in yours, or the pleasure of crawling into bed after a long day.
- Become aware of how you speak to yourself, and correct any negative thoughts you might have throughout the day. Be vigilant.
- Make a list of all of the things that you love about yourself.
- Make a list of the things you wish to change in your life. When thinking about these goals, focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Try and write your thoughts in the present tense to instill the feeling of accomplishment.
The more specific a goal, the better, so that you can clearly envision and work toward it. For example:
- If your goal is to be healthier, try approaching the idea with thoughts like, “I am becoming healthy and strong.”
- If you want to feel like you are being heard, try reminding yourself that “my words are important and my voice is commanding.”
- If you are feeling unappreciated, by yourself or others, and want to find your inner strength, repeat after me: “I am strong. I am worthy. I am the master of my own universe.”
Some affirmations will feel effortless and true, while others may feel empty. Do not worry, this takes practice. You have spent your entire life thinking about yourself and speaking to yourself in certain ways, consequently some affirmations may conflict with your present mental conditioning. As you work with more positive affirmations, your resistance will erode and you will begin to see that what you are telling yourself is true.
- Karren, Keith J. 2010. Mind/body health: the effects of attitudes, emotions and relationships. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.
- McTaggart, Lynne. 2008. The intention experiment: using your thoughts to change your life and the world. New York: Free Press.
- Grabhorn, Lynn. 2005. Excuse me, your life is waiting: the astonishing power of positive feelings. London: Hodder Mobius.