Overview: Positive Self-Affirmations
Self-affirmations or positive statements about ourselves can increase our performance because they challenge and eventually over-ride the self-sabotaging and negative thoughts that we have about ourselves – ‘You can’t do that’, ‘That was rubbish of you’, ‘You’re lazy’ etc. This boosts our confidence and self-esteem. Positive self-affirmations can also help reduce stress.
Self-affirmations work by neutralising the negative thoughts which stimulate and bring our threat system ‘on-line’, leaving us with negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and demotivation. Positive affirmations can stimulate our soothing system, leaving us in a more positive state e.g. more calm and relaxed or excited and motivated.
Stop and pay attention to the negative thoughts you hear from your ‘inner critic’. Identify a negative thought that you have about yourself or about something that is going to happen
Ask yourself whether this negative thought is true or just an automatic thought about yourself. Is there evidence from your past experiences to suggest there is another more positive thought that could be true? For example, “I can’t do this” might be translated into a positive statement such as “I know I am capable of achieving things I find challenging – I have done this in the past”
Start to change negative statements about yourself by writing down the positive ones instead.
- Try and keep the statements short and simple
- Write the statements in the present tense so that you are talking about what is going on in the here and now, not in the past or in the future.
- Make sure the statements start with “I” or “My” so that they are referring to you
- Make sure the statements are written in a positive way as opposed to a negative way. Don’t use statements such as “not”, “can’t”, “won’t’ “don’t”. So instead of writing “I’m not nervous” write “I am confident”.
- Add a positive emotion in to the statement such as “I’m excited that I am confident”, “I am really happy that I am confident”.
- Keep these statements written down
- Try and repeat them to yourself 3 times a day for 5 minutes. Look at yourself in the mirror while you do this, maybe while brushing your teeth in the morning and evening.