Build Self Esteem with Affirmations

1989 3.2 litre Ferrari 328 GTS Targa at a car ...

An affirmation is a positive self talk statement. They are usually goal based – such as tangible things (to earn $xxxx a year, to drive a Ferrari) – where you can clearly say yes or no whether they have been achieved. But affirmations can also cover personal qualities – such as “I am a great communicator”.

An affirmation should be stated in the present tense – “I am a positive person”, “I earn $200,000 a year”,” I have great self confidence”. The logic behind affirmations is that giving yourself positive messages, the mind starts believing it to be so. This is exactly the same principle as how negative thinking undermines us – being told repeatedly “you’re useless”, we believe it to be true.

I use affirmations. I  believe they are a useful tool in the battle for healthy self esteem. My starting point is that positive affirmations are healing, positive scripts you give to yourself to counter your negative inner voice. They can help you free yourself from the over dependence you have on other people’s opinions, attitudes, or feelings about you and help you feel good about yourself.

Every one of us has some kind of internal dialog, or self talk, going on most of the day. We have two voices, one positive and one negative. The positive one is the one that is supportive of all your ideas, beliefs in what you do and always expects the good in other people. The negative one is the whiner who always tries to put you and the rest of the world down, has no belief in what is possible and makes you feel doubtful and frustrated.

Law of Attraction

The problem with affirmations is they tend to be the basis of wishing for wealth, abundance and other desires we currently don’t have. You don’t have to look far to find Law of Attraction advocates getting you to transform your reality by visualizing these aspirations – reinforced by affirmations. The software I use, Vision Board, is typical:-

A final important point to know, is that if you don’t have enough money right now, it means you are blocking the flow of money into your life, with your thoughts. Your wallet speaks very clearly about the vibrations you are sending out into the universe about money at this present moment…

You can work on a more positive and abundant belief system by using affirmations. Use affirmations like

“I am so happy and excited that I am now attracting a flow of money into my life”    or

“I easily attract money like a magnet”.

I should add, that despite their promotion of the Law of Attraction, I think Vision Board a great product. Since I last reviewed it they have added features, such as the ability to add sound, music, AVI movies and create posters. But it remains simple to set up and I still use it just with pictures and text.

As I have argued before, the Law of Attraction, is total twaddle with its talk of our brain sending out “money attracting vibes”, or other messages into the ether.  This is an irrational belief, which defies science and logic.

Many will cite anecdotal examples of how this has worked for them – how their thinking (and manifesting) gained them a promotion, or suddenly brought money into their life.

Beliefs will change how you act and perform. If you start trying to “attract” a promotion, by seeing yourself in that role and repeating affirmations that confirm that, you change your internal beliefs and values. You may then start applying yourself more to your job. This change in you will affect how others react – if you stop indulging in idle gossip every time they pass your desk, it will become clear to those around you that you are applying yourself more fully to your work. In turn, that may lead to promotion.

That is different to the “law of attraction” view, that by thinking of success or promotion, you are somehow transmitting those thoughts and “attracting” success or promotion.

Problem Solving

Another argument against affirmations is they don’t engage your brain in problem solving, nor tap into our creativity and imagination. In other words they encourage a passive use of the brains massive power.

Also affirmations can encourage bad thinking habits, by encouraging to much focus on the self.  I went over these in three posts earlier this year. For example an affirmation could be

“I always communicate in a clear and assertive manner”

Even if you are a good communicator, you are unlikely to always be clear and assertive. So such an affirmation is likely to lead to frustration and negative self talk when you fail to live up to this.

Self Esteem

In a future post I will spend some time looking at ways to write and word affirmations. They are a powerful tool that can be a great help to build a better foundation for higher self esteem and let go of negative emotional baggage. But they are not a magic wand that can miraculously transform your life with no other effort. But i will close today with a quote from Yaro Starak, now a high flying Internet blogger and entrepreneur, who describes how affirmations helped him overcome his negative thinking.

“Some people scoff at positive affirmations and consider them useless but as anyone who has had panic attacks will tell you, at the root cause of them are the opposite – negative affirmations. As a result of spending most days thinking negatively and repeating self-talk that beat myself up my body reacted with panic attacks. In your case you may not have the same reaction as I did, but if your self-talk is negative it’s holding you back from achieving your dreams and can certainly be a cause of things like depression, feeling like you have no control over you life and an inability to feel happiness.”

Ferrari image via Wikipedia

Maria | Never the Same River Twice December 9, 2008 at 5:55 pm

David, I completely agree that negative self talk causes all types of mental health issues and positive affirmations can have the opposite beneficial effect.

Do you have any suggestions for crafting effective affirmations? So many of the ones I’ve seen strike me as corny or puffed-up. How would you go about writing an affirmation?

Maria | Never the Same River Twices last blog post..5 Ways That You Can Manage Change Just Like the Big 3 Automakers

David December 10, 2008 at 11:28 pm

Thanks for the comment and question. I’ve been trying to think up a short, sparkling reply, but I’m going to ask you to wait until I post on this later this month. The more I look into affirmations, the more I realize they need working at and personalizing – not just copying someone else’s. Hopefully I will answer your question properly with my post. David

Davids last blog post..Build Self Esteem with Affirmations

Jeff December 11, 2008 at 1:52 am

Great post, I’ve always found that affirmations backed up by positive imagery enhance the attraction.

Just as in your blog post, by focusing on your affirmation and a picture of the Ferrari, you can better guide your subconscious and attract your goals that much better…add in an entire “movie” inside of your head of what life is like having achieved your goal and it’s better still.

For example, imagining what it’s like driving your Ferrari down your street on a warm summer day with all of your neighbor’s watching – the looks on their faces, what they are saying, etc…


Nancy Wylde December 12, 2008 at 7:06 am

I learned about affirmations some twenty years ago. And with the passing of time I found very clever ways of making the affirmations part of my day to day life. Just as you mentioned in your blog, affirmations with a picture is more effective. I used to and still write my affirmations, laminate them, cut them up into bookmarks or small cards and have them everywhere! In my purse, in my car, in my house, in dresser drawers and so on. Sometimes just images of what I want to attract is all I need. I did this with a book I wanted published in the US. I left the manuscript in the drawer and some 6 months later I found the publisher! The key to affirmations and visualisation is to be very specific and be open to how what we want comes to us. It may not come in the way we anticipate. I write on affirmations in my latest book.

Maudrey December 15, 2008 at 1:48 pm

A few years back, I participated in a goal-setting activity that required a board filled with pictures that represented the goals I wanted to set for myself. While I thought it helpful at the time, after reading your post, it seems I should have done it differently. The statements I made then started with “I will have..” and “I will be.” I’m thinking now that affirmations in the present tense not only sound better but add a sense of already claiming what is stated in the affirmation. Thanks for the helpful post.

David December 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Thanks for your comments and sharing your successes. I don’t think there are definitive ways to set goals or affirmations, it comes back to what works for you. Whilst I would suggest writing in the present tense, I’m sure others have success with “I will have” approach. Don’t forget, most people don’t set goals at all.

Kirk January 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm

very important i think, because doing so is like assessing where you are currently at…

David January 21, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Kirk, I think its vital to know where you’re at before setting goals and setting off in a new direction

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