I recently had a scuffle with a friend that left me spinning. I felt consumed by it, it seemed every waking moment I was rehashing and replaying our conversation, trying to make sense of our argument. The more I tried to shake it, the more I found myself thinking about it. I became more and more anxious, unsure, and critical of myself. I felt a pull to smooth it over. Unconsciously, I went to an old, familiar story that my worth is dependent on whether people are pleased with me. My anxiety was oozing out of my shame exposed behind my likable, charming armor. In her research on vulnerability & shame, Brene Brown calls this reaction “The Shitty First Draft”. We all have a shitty first draft. It’s our knee-jerk, go-to story we tell ourselves when we feel vulnerable, shame, or fear. So how do we break the cycle?Read More
We are often our worst critics, judging ourselves more harshly than we would others. It is often easier to extend grace and compassion to friends and family than it is to ourselves. The messages we tell ourselves often perpetuate lies that root from shame, our negative core beliefs. Things like “I’m not good enough. No one loves me. Everyone leaves. I can’t rely on other people.”, etc. Healing these negative core beliefs takes great intentionality. One great way is to practice affirmations.
Affirmations are simply positive truths about ourselves. An affirmation concisely speaks truth about who we are, challenging the negative core beliefs that may be loud in our head. These affirmations can cross out the messy first draft left behind by shame & replace it with a more true, more helpful draft.
Sometimes affirmations can be general, like “I am loved” or can be more specific to a situation, like “I can handle this”. Write your affirmations specifically to areas of yourself and your life that need that extra support and tune-up. Find yourself beating yourself up over small mistakes you make socially? Write affirmations about your belovedness, connectedness, support from others, etc. Working toward a big test? Write affirmations toward your preparation, your ability, your strength, your confidence. Struggling to hold onto hope in a difficult season? Write your affirmations about your confidence that you will be okay, you can handle this, you will get your happy ending.
I encourage you to give it a shot - even this weekend. Think about a difficult spot in your life now, it may be self-esteem, family, relationships, infertility, grief, loss, fear, lack of hope, a trial, etc.. Now challenge yourself to write 25 positive affirmations. Here are a few to get you started:
- I am strong.
- I am loved.
- I am doing the best I can with the tools I have today.
- I can handle this.
- I can trust myself.
- I am resilient.
- I choose hope.
- I will be okay.
When you have your affirmation list, commit to reading your affirmations out loud over yourself daily. You may even record yourself speaking these affirmations slowly, then listen to the recording as you fall asleep each night. Practicing affirmations may feel strange at first. We are often not used to speaking kindly to ourselves. Negative shame messages are usually deeply ingrained and can feel much louder than the soft whisper of a positive affirmation. Keep at it consistently, with practice and discipline the affirmations will eventually start to feel more true and take up more space in your head.