Affirmations are amazing tools! But a lot of people discount them because they feel 'silly' for saying good things to themselves. The thing is; there are a few tricks to using affirmations other than having a chat to yourself in the mirror. If you want to actually get some good out of complimenting yourself, please read on to hear the best ways to do so!
To start with, you might not even realise that you're already telling yourself some negative affirmations. A lot of the time people give examples of negative thoughts like "I'm so ugly", "I'm not as good as them", "I can't do anything right". These thoughts are quite easy to identify, so it's not too difficult to recognise them and move onto the next step of replacing them with something positive.
But what about subconscious affirmations? Things that we tell ourselves that aren't a fully formed thought or "phrase" in our head? I thought for SO LONG that I didn't speak to myself negatively, because the things I was telling myself didn't come out in coherent words. It was just little things, like pinching the roll on my waist when I was sat down. Not meeting my eye in the mirror. Feeling a lump in my throat when seeing others succeed where I wanted to. It was me subconsciously telling myself, "you're not skinny enough", "you're not pretty enough", "you're not good enough". I didn't realise for the longest time that these negative affirmations were so ingrained in me that I didn't know I was saying them without words.
So next time you get that sinking feeling, try to pause and actually THINK the words that you're telling yourself without realising. The more you practice this, the better you can get at recognising it, which takes you onto the next step.
Once you've got a handle on recognising your negative affirmations, it's time to replace them with something positive. This will depend on what it is you're struggling with; if you're telling yourself negative affirmations about your appearance, point out something you like about yourself. If you feel like a failure, celebrate your achievements. If you're focusing on a perceived weakness, turn it into a strength.
One of my favourite affirmations at the moment is "I am soft and I am strong". For years when I was younger, I was ashamed and frustrated with myself for being so sensitive. I was emotional, easily upset, I would cry at the drop of a hat and hold my hurt inside for a long time. I told myself I was too soft, TOO sensitive; I actively went out to ask people how I could stop being this way. It took me a long time to realise there was strength in my softness too. I'm empathetic and I experience feelings so strongly. I'm authentic in expressing myself and you can always tell how I'm feeling. There are good aspects of being soft, and you can be strong at the same time!
Here are some examples of positive affirmations you could use to replace your negative ones:
- I am grateful to my body
- I am more than enough
- It's okay to feel my feelings
- I can do this
- I am exactly where I need to be
- I am wonderfully imperfect
So, one bit of positive affirmations that a lot of us (myself included!) struggle with is taking the step to say them out loud. It's silly, it's embarrassing, can't I just say it in my head? Well, yes, but then you're not getting the full benefit, and THIS IS WHY:
We don't like feeling silly because that's a "negative trait". It triggers a sense of embarrassment and shame. Shame is the experience of believing that we are imperfect and flawed, and therefore unworthy of love. It's the fear that we've failed to live up to an ideal or accomplish a goal, and that makes us unworthy.
The truth is, firstly, that you are always worthy of love. Secondly, there is bravery in doing something despite the stigma of shame . You know what's better than someone "cool" who is playing it safe? Someone who has the courage to put themselves out there, be a bit vulnerable, be a bit silly. If you're brave enough to say something nice out loud to yourself in the mirror, you have shown yourself so much love and strength. So don't be the "cool" person who is secretly too afraid to be a bit daft. Do the silly thing.
Lastly, there's one super important step that gets missed SO OFTEN when it comes to talking about affirmations. So, you've done the brave thing, said something out loud to yourself. Now what?
When we receive any affirmation, whether that's positive or negative, from outside or from ourselves, we need to pause before we accept it. This is VITAL. Take a moment to pause and consider whether this is true for you. Is this affirmation helpful? Is it really about me? Does the person speaking have your best interests at heart? Does this affirmation help me in my journey? If so, then go ahead and accept it, but if not, you are allowed to disregard it.
The reason for taking the time to process any affirmation before reacting is that if you readily accept anything that comes your way without a thought, you accept both the good and the bad. Every criticism (whether constructive or not) feels like a personal attack. Stopping to consider where it is coming from can help you to filter genuine and useful feedback from comments that are simply negative and untrue. The fact that you can take that step to disregard a negative affirmation from someone else means that you're giving yourself the power to know what is true about yourself.
This works the same for positive affirmations too. By considering the thought and intention behind someone's compliment, you are no longer automatically accepting their praise and getting those good vibes without a second thought. You can then have the power to again know what is true about yourself, and when you're having that silly chat in the mirror, you can tell yourself things that are true and wonderful. It is so incredibly important to not become reliant on compliments and positive feedback from others as your only source of validation. This easily leads to feelings of self doubt and failure when that feedback stops coming. You need to learn to also bring that positivity from within. When people say "Be Your Own Cheerleader", what they leave out is ".. when everyone else stops cheering".
If you're lucky enough to have people in your life that are your cheerleaders with your genuine interests at heart, that is amazing! Just remember that when their life gets busy, when the likes and comments slow down, when the kind words haven't shown up for a while; remember that you can turn within and continue to find that celebration of yourself. You don't need to rely on others to love yourself.
I hope all of this helped you a little bit to understand the power of affirmations and how to use them fully for a better result! I'd love to hear your favourite positive affirmation, or any other thoughts you might have, in the comments!
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