I used to be a bully, but not in the way you may think. Being nice to other people is easy. When I see others, I am kind. I praise their ravishing outfits or how incredibly talented they are. However, the one challenging, problematic person is someone I look at every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep. I am stuck with this one person for life, and yet I chose to only focus on their negative qualities. To this day, I wonder why it was so hard to actively be kind to someone with whom I spend all my time: myself.
To silence these negative thoughts, I began to practice affirmations. Affirmations have completely changed the way I view myself and are a part of my morning and nightly routine. I started these a year ago and stuck with them through an unusual senior year of high school and as I begin my first college semester. I repeat the tiniest phrases that my heart needs to hear. “I’m smart, I’m strong, I’m beautiful.” I have many more phrases that I occasionally say, but I can recite these ones like the alphabet. Previously when I stood in front of that daunting mirror, my mind could not craft a single, positive word. Now I speak to myself as I would a friend. If you are new to affirmations, here are some tips that I have learned throughout my journey.
Less is more.
When performing affirmations, I recommend keeping them short and simple and scheduling a specific time to rehearse. Of course, you can make them long if you desire, but when I am feeling exhausted, longer affirmations seem more intimidating. Brief affirmations are easier to remember. I often ask myself, “What would I like someone to say to me when I’m feeling down?” Sometimes the most minuscule reminder of, “I’m smart,” or, “You are strong,” can spark a bit of positive energy. I remember times when I received little compliments from strangers, and they stuck with me for the rest of the day. Our words have power, so take advantage of them.
Practicing affirmations is important, not only on the rough days, but on the good days as well. It is much harder to remember all the great qualities about ourselves when we are in the middle of a breakup, exam or other intense situation. I will admit, talking in the mirror felt unnecessary at times when my self-esteem was doing great. Although, even if I knew my eyeliner was flawless and my fit was Instagram-worthy, it would still feel amazing for someone to notice. My affirmations are a way of recognizing and hyping myself up on my great days and comforting myself on the dreadful ones. Not only did practicing affirmations help my memory, but I also began believing the loving things I told myself while tears erased the makeup from my face.
Give yourself attention.
No matter how odd it is to speak to a reflection, say every affirmation with sincerity. If I speak to a family member, such as my sister, and try to tell her how amazing she is, I am not going to talk under my breath or look away. I am going to make sure she is listening, she can hear me and to speak loud enough so others possibly hear too. Studying my appearance and the way I sounded when my words slowly and softly left my mouth was an emotional experience during the first several weeks. Today I still say my affirmations with significance, but because I am content and familiar with this concept of self-love, I am no longer overwhelmed when I choose to be kind to myself.
Performing an act of kindness to yourself, and saying positive things to your body, mind or being can make a definite shift on your overall self-image. I will admit, the results were not immediate, but with time I grew to love the person who gazed back at me in the mirror. Even today I am not an expert — I may never be — but I have grown so much from where I was. I used to constantly bully myself, sabotage my worth and only pay attention to my mistakes. However, with my affirmations, I am always reminded that I’m smart, I’m strong and I’m beautiful. I believe it’s time that you tell yourself the same.