January 20, 2020
How to Make Positive Affirmations Stick by Elena Shelest
A young woman smiling at her self in the mirrorSource: How to Make Positive Affirmations Stick | Five Minute Discovery
You’ve probably heard about positive self-talk and words of affirmation. Maybe, you’ve even tried saying a few things in the mirror while feeling awkward and hoping nobody else overheard you. But it just didn’t sit right. It seemed fake and far-fetched from what you actually think of yourself. Your mind rejected it like some sort of foreign matter.
To tell you the truth, I also rolled my eyes at this “speak it into the existence” fantasy stuff and people claiming that the words they taped on their kitchen cupboards helped them change their lives. Sticking something on the wall wouldn’t necessarily help to stick it on your soul.
Anyway, I went on a quest to discover what actually helps to alter our self-image. How do we eliminate negative things we tell ourselves day in and day out? Things we’ve heard for years about ourselves. Things that got stuck to us like super glue and only seem to come off with parts of our flesh attached to them.
So, if you’re looking for realistic, no-nonsense information on keeping the toxic self-talk at bay, keep reading. By the way, I’m only sharing things that helped me, and the only expertise I have is living my own life well. Hopefully, you’ll find my personal discoveries useful.
Why Do I View Myself As…
While lillies blooming gracefully in front of a cracked mirrorSource: How to Make Positive Affirmations Stick | Five Minute Discovery
Before you start reciting the uplifting words you found on the internet, you should probably figure out why you’re not thinking all of these positive things in the first place. Why aren’t you convinced that you’re this wonderful, glorious, ultra-successful being that attracts positive vibes anywhere you go?
Well, probably because after existing on this planet for however many years, your life experiences told you otherwise. Maybe a few people said some things about you that weren’t very nice and you internalized their words. Maybe you made conclusions based on an unfortunate incident that you’re not able to shake off.
Now, if you start saying positive, shiny proclamations over yourself without actually believing they’re true, you’ll just end up feeling like an impostor. At least I did.
But don’t words have power? Oh, yes, they do — when you internalize them and make them your own. How would you do this?
First, start by being honest with yourself.
Think of one thing in regards to yourself that you’re not happy with. Write down the thoughts about it that bothers you, constantly nag you, run through your head on repeat like an annoying cassette tape.
List all of the possible reasons of why you believe these words are attached to your person. Don’t just write “because it’s true.” Try to figure out what caused you to form these convictions. Dig deeper and identify the first time you felt this way. Write down the emotions around it.
How do these mindsets make you feel? What are they keeping you from being able to do?
Let’s do an example. I think all of us women have a tendency to not like something in our appearance even if we become supermodels.
When a woman isn’t happy with the way she looks, this might cause her to avoid family pool parties and miss work-related social events. Her performance at her job might suffer due to the lack of confidence, and even her relationship with her spouse could be strained because she doesn’t trust his affection.
Maybe it all started with her mother being overly critical with her as a child, and now she’s criticizing herself with negative thoughts running in her mind on repeat. Growing up, she wasn’t popular with boys and ended up in a relationship that was verbally abusive. Now even with a caring husband she still feels insecure and unloved. When she compares herself to the women on magazine covers or even in her office, she feels inferior.
Now you try.
And here you thought I’d be teaching you super-powerful proclamations that’ll finally do the trick. Instead, I’m making you open up some old wounds. Sorry.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic formula, but if you want a lasting change in how you view yourself, you can’t just put a bandaid on something that requires major surgery.
Now, What Do I Do With This Again…
A young woman adjusting her white hijabSource: How to Make Positive Affirmations Stick | Five Minute Discovery
After you’ve identified the issue you want to address and figured out what the roots are, ask yourself: What can I do about it? There’s always something you can do.
The woman in the example above could:
- Talk to a trusted friend
- Go see a counselor
- Bring the issue to God in prayer and ask Him to tell her how He views her
- Join the gym
- Go shopping for new clothes
- See her hairdresser
- Change her diet
- Read good books on the subject
- Do something nice for herself
- Distance herself from her critical mother for a bit
- Tell her husband how she feels.
There are lots of options.
The point is she’d have to put in effort into changing her beliefs.
The websites that advertise these things forgot to put a disclaimer: “Some action steps are required.”
Pick one thing you want to improve, choose a few simple steps to implement it, and give it a solid try. Be persistent. You have the power to change it.
What’s Stopping Me?
A young man gazing into a pocket mirrorSource: How to Make Positive Affirmations Stick | Five Minute Discovery
What if you’ve already tried to work on the issue and failed? What if, despite your efforts, your internal conversation is still on the “glass half empty” route?
Ok, now we’re finally getting to the talking-to-yourself-in-the-mirror part. Here is when words of affirmations and proclamations actually come in as useful.
While you’re implementing the steps to pull out the root of the problem and heal, you need to fill your mind with lots of good information on the subject. A few positive phrases to tell yourself daily would help along the way. But they have to align with the transformations you’re already pursuing.
Here’s another example. Let’s say, you’re terrified of public speaking (like me), and it’s holding you back at work. It’s been a thorn in your flesh for years, so you finally decide to tackle it down. You realize that it all started in the first grade when you were humiliated in front of the class. After that, every experience of speaking in front of the group ended in an embarrassing disaster. But despite your fear, you tell your boss that you’re finally ready to do that presentation.
Over the next few weeks you get ready. You recite your speech in front of the mirror, in front of your family and friends, in front of your dog. You join Toastmasters International. You use your imagination to see yourself in front of others doing splendidly and receiving a standing ovation. You read books and watch videos on speaking with confidence. You see a counselor to address your former negative experiences and reframe your thinking.
Drum roll, please. Here’s where positive affirmations start to play a role.
You tell yourself daily the things that are becoming true in your life: I’m going to be calm and relaxed when speaking in front of an audience, I will speak with confidence, people will enjoy listening to me, public speaking is starting to feel more natural and easy, and so on.
Now go ahead and plaster it everywhere in your house, listen to it on the way to work, recite it internally before you begin your speech. Tell it to yourself, to everyone around you, and stop all the naysayers who tell you otherwise.
Then you’re going to step in front of your colleagues and do your best. Whatever happens next is just another step in your process of self-development.
The only thing that can stop you from making a positive change in your life is… you. I can tell you how special and wonderful you are all day long (you are by the way), but unless you dig deep and realize for yourself that it’s true, these words will just bounce off without doing anything.
The shift has to happen on the inside first. You need to study the topic, read the books, listen to people who are already there, and surround yourself with supportive friends.
If you’re willing to do that and just looking for some simple truths to strengthen your new mindset, feel free to download my personal affirmations list. I hope it encourages you.
Head on over to Elena Shelest’s blog for lifestyle advice and more.
Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with her latest work!
Interested in having content featured in an upcoming blog post or issue of The Burgundy Zine? Head on over to the submissions page!
For all other inquiries, please fulfill a contact form.