We've known about affirmations for a long time now. Back in the 1980's women were encouraged to make up little signs of affirmation and place them in mirrors and all around the house. The intention was to remind us constantly of how fabulous and strong we were. It was suggested that we do the same for our children. Little surprises in lunch boxes or in their room to surprise them. It was almost like you couldn't get enough positive messages so we should put them everywhere.
While affirmations are important and can no doubt be helpful perhaps the 1980's approach was not really the way to go. The problem with doing anything too much can mean that after a while, even a short while, it can become meaningless. The messages no longer hold much value. It's like the way we now understand praise. Praise that is most helpful is specific and related to how we do something, not just what the outcome is. Praise that is too general can easily be dismissed. I'm sure the same applies to affirmations. If we make a whole heap of affirmations that are not specific or meaningful they can also be easily dismissed. They may not do us harm but they may not be that helpful. Over time we may become cynical and miss the opportunity that affirmations can provide.
So, if we draw on what we now know about praising others we could use that to develop our own affirmations, in effect to praise ourselves. This means they will be specific and tailored to how we do things. If we have a particularly challenging day coming up we could tailor some affirmations about our capacity to plan and cope with the stress associated with it the day. We can then review this later and reflect on what it was that helped us get through the day. For example perhaps we got up 1/2 hour earlier than usual to avoid rushing. Our next affirmation could take that into account and include a message about planning to avoid rushing.
Affirmations that are specific and related to the task at hand can then also become useful positive self talk messages for ourselves. Global messages that we are ok or good won't be too helpful because sometimes we might not feel ok or good. Sometimes we make mistakes and behave in ways we wish we hadn't. Affirmations that remind us that we are able to cope with a particular challenge is more readily able to be turned into a positive self talk message that is tailored to our situation.
Of course for any affirmations or positive self talk messages to be meaningful we need to be believe it. If we have an affirmation on our wall that we are valuable and special but we don't really believe it, it loses meaning. Ensuring that our affirmations have meaning is what will make them most useful. If someone has said to us that they appreciate what we have done for example we could use that draw on. It is real and hard to argue against if someone has said it. So look out and hear the compliments that come our way and incorporate them into our affirmations and positive self talk.
With a little thought and care we will be able to gain the benefits of affirmations in helping us to build a meaningful and rich life. They will help us to connect with who we are and who we want to be.