Most of us carry around messages we received in childhood about the world, about others, and about ourselves. We receive messages from the outside world–our family members, friends, teachers–all throughout our lives. The messages we receive about ourselves can be positive or negative. The negative messages we receive, even at an early age, can lead to negative self-perception, negative self-image, or negative self-talk over many years. This can lead to depression, anxiety, addiction, or other mental health concerns. It is important to explore these messages, and to come up with hopeful, positive affirmations. This can help you to be more kind to yourself!

Let’s start by coming up with one negative message you received at an early age that still impacts you. This could be a message you received from any source. Who is the source? Is the source a person you know, such as a parent, sibling, friend, teacher, or coach? Is the source a larger entity, such as the media? Challenge this message by asking yourself if the source of your negative message is a healthy, reliable source of information to you. Do you trust that source to make fair judgements about who you are as a person? Perhaps not, if you really think about it.

Now that you are thinking of that negative message, come up with several statements or words that challenge your negative message. Consider what your supportive friends and family members might say about you to help you with these challenges. Find evidence against the negative message based on your experiences. For example, if your negative message is that you’re unsuccessful, think about times when you were successful. Now that you have some challenging statements, put them together to create some positive affirmations. Affirmations can be simple, such as ‘I know I can be successful in what I do.’ Affirmations can also provide hope. Start an affirmation with ‘I believe I can…’ or ‘I am working on…’ to give yourself hope for the future. For example, an affirmation such as ‘I am working on becoming a happier person’ is more positive than saying ‘I’m a miserable person.’

When struggling with a mental health issue, it can be difficult to remember positive affirmations when feeling anxious, depressed, or angry. It can be helpful to write down your positive messages on sticky notes or index cards. Keep them in a place that is visible to you first thing in the morning or throughout the day. With practice, it will become easier to come up with even more positive messages and you may find that you feel more positive about yourself. The way you ‘talk’ to yourself internally can change for the better, which can boost self-esteem and mood.

For more information on self-esteem and positive affirmations, please contact Specialized Therapy Associates at (201)-488-6678. By calling this number, you can also find out more about counseling services for mental health or addiction issues.