Building Self-Esteem Through Affirmations
The words you use when you talk to or about yourself have a major impact on your self-esteem. Furthermore, the words you hear from others about yourself can subconsciously shape your self-esteem and overall self-image. Now, these may not seem like ground-breaking statements. In fact, pretty much every self-help book out there preaches the importance of positive self-talk. However, if you struggle with low self-esteem, it can be uncomfortable to start speaking positive affirmations to yourself. If you have felt discouraged by the journey to self-confidence or stopped trying because it feels awkward and hopeless, you are not alone. Building self-esteem through affirmations may feel unnatural at first, but repeating authentic self-affirmations and learning to accept compliments from others will help your self-confidence flourish beyond belief. Follow along as we discuss how affirmations from yourself and from others shape your self-esteem and how to keep self-affirmations authentic to you!
What is Positive Self-Talk and Where to Start?
First of all, what exactly is self-talk? Self-talk is everything you say to yourself throughout the waking hours of your life. When your self-talk is generally negative, you are developing automatic thought patterns that elicit a negative emotional reaction or negative view of yourself. The opposite happens with positive self-talk. Take a minute and think about what you have said to yourself today. Was it kind? Did you find it helpful? Was it critical? For some, positive self-talk comes naturally. Unfortunately, for most of us, it takes time to learn and cultivate positive thoughts while simultaneously dispelling negative thoughts. The good news is that people who master the art of positive self talk are thought to be more confident, motivated, and productive! Also, it gets easier with time and practice. Ultimately, there is no downside to learning how to have more productive, positive inner conversations.
To start, spend a few days closely listening to your inner dialogues. Note if you are generally supportive, kind, critical, or negative towards yourself. Would you feel comfortable saying the same things to people you love? Additionally, look for patterned thoughts or common threads then write down your frequent negative thoughts. Next, ask yourself some tough questions. Are you overreacting, overgeneralizing, labeling yourself harshly, or assuming how others will react? Moreover, are the things you are telling yourself truthful and accurate? Now that you have more clarity on how your inner thoughts are skewed, switch gears and try to reword your list of negative thoughts in kinder, more supportive ways. For example, instead of saying, “I’m so dumb, I can’t believe I failed that test,” try something more like, “I can do better. Next time I will prepare myself better and maybe hire a tutor for help”.
Learning to Accept Compliments From Others
When self-esteem is low, it can be hard to accept compliments from those around you. People actively seek to verify their own perceptions of themselves. So, when someone with low self-esteem gets a compliment it can cause them to feel uncomfortable because it contradicts their own self-view. Thus, hearing and learning to truly accept positive feedback is beneficial to building self-esteem. Compliments are positive affirmations that are genuine, meaningful, and can show you how others truly see you. Instead of deflecting compliments, try to accept them with a simple thank you to start.
Remaining Authentic with Self-Affirmations
When you look up self-affirmations online you can find numerous lists of generic affirmations. While these lists are a great starting point and may help you brainstorm some self-affirmations you would like to use, they may also feel inauthentic to you. Authenticity in your self-affirmations is key to helping you actually believe them.
Your authentic self-affirmations can be about anything, so get creative and try to make them as specific as possible. Affirmations are different from goals because they should be set in the present. You are trying to make your brain believe you have already succeeded. For example, you may not feel strong and confident, but if you repeat to yourself daily that you are strong and confident, you will eventually start to believe it. Now, affirmations aren’t magic. Positive affirmations require regular practice and you still have to take action to make your affirmations real. Therefore, you want to have affirmations that are realistic or that highlight change that is realistic for you. The good news is, the popularity of positive affirmations is based on well-established and widely accepted psychological theory.
As we mentioned earlier, the journey to higher self-esteem and self-confidence can be awkward, uncomfortable, and difficult. Working with a life coach or therapist may help you gain clarity on what you are trying to affirm to yourself, or the steps you can take to make your affirmations come to life. Chriselda Santos, licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, specializes in helping people utilize their natural strengths and capabilities to gain more confidence and redirect their life. Chriselda is passionate about helping her clients regain hope and adopt healthy behaviors. If you feel like you could use some additional guidance in building self-esteem through affirmations, Chriselda wants to offer her expertise! Visit her website for more information, or to book your first appointment.