Every now and then we need to find a little way to challenge the negative thoughts that eek their way into our minds and prevent us from living into our full potential. Positive affirmations can help with this by reinforcing and strengthening the neural pathways of the positive self-thoughts and beliefs that we choose to reaffirm.
When using positive affirmations, it is important not to invalidate and push down negative feelings; those are there for a reason and they are often linked to deeply held beliefs and values. Instead, positive affirmations can help us tangibly lean into the side of ourselves that does hold some positive beliefs. Over time, those parts of ourselves will start to carry more weight than the sides that are quick to self-criticize or believe the worst.
Positive affirmations are the equivalent of filling up your diet with healthier foods versus focusing on what you shouldn’t eat when trying to get healthy.
Without further ado, here are a few steps to help you create positive affirmations, with a few thoughtful variations, that will help you create more good in your life. Moreover, it goes (almost) without saying that any one method is not the perfect strategy for all people. So, if positive affirmations aren’t your thing – no biggie.
Step 1: Dig Deep
In this first step, you essentially want start by making a personalized list of positive affirmations. This first step is by far the most important, and there are so many ways to go about this.
One method is to write a list of some current negative self-talk statements that crop up for you. Then, on the opposite side of the page, write counteracting positive statements. For example, if on one side you write, “Nobody loves me.” On the opposite side, you could write “I am worthy of love.”
This method can be particularly helpful because you can target the thoughts that currently challenge you.
One thing to note is that if you are having a particularly bad day, these may actually make you feel worse because they don’t seem believable. What to do? Tap into your deeply held beliefs. What’s something you could believe, even on your worst day? Use that as your starting point. The key is not to fill up the page with a bunch of things that feel trite, but to actually fill up the page with things you genuinely believe.
Many advocate using “I” statements, but for some that just doesn’t work because it can feel phony and reinforce low self-esteem. To get around this, here are a few other options. One is to actually write them as “You” statements, “You are worthy of love.” The idea that this statement is coming from some outside force, can sometimes feel more believable.
Another option is to think more globally and write a statement that you believe applies to all beings and attach the idea that you are included in that notion. For example, instead of “I am worthy of love” or “You are worthy of love,” you could write “All beings are worthy of love, even me/you.” This method is especially helpful if you find you are harder on yourself than others.
We are all different, so different methods work better for some versus others. Truly, this is all about finding what works for you and using it!
Step 2: Write Nicely
Here come the easy parts! Now that you have made your list of positive affirmations, take a piece of paper and write them nicely on said paper. Use whatever color papers or pens inspire you.
This act is just a little investment highlighting that you are worth the extra effort. And you are, so go forth!
Step 3: Rip and Fold
Alright, now rip or cut out the affirmations into strips. Fold them and put them in a jar or bowl. Each day, draw one and be inspired by the little affirmations you have written to yourself.
It’s almost like a fortune cookie, each day…only hand-made by you!