The power of a puny little positive message
Let’s face it. It may feel a little dorky to write yourself a note, especially one saying how AWESOME you are. And then, what? … post it where others can see it?? If you have a 12-year-old son like mine, you have just opened the door to endless jokes and ridicule, probably including several bad puns associated with said message. But here is where you need to say, “Don’t care. Going to do it for myself, and maybe, just maybe, someday that 12-year-old smart aleck will try it himself.”
Today’s challenge is to write a positive message to yourself and post it somewhere that you will see it repeatedly. Research indicates that positive thinking, refocusing one’s lens, being grateful, and using affirmations all shift happiness barometers more toward HIGH. Check out Team Better’s blogs on optimism, changing your lens and gratitude for the science on how these attitudes help us feel better. Positive self-talk is a staple for many athletes and competitors because they have experienced the benefits of reminding yourself of your strengths. Get pumped up today by giving yourself the same kind of positive boost.
Positive messages to yourself are often known as affirmations. When we use affirmations, we proclaim what we want reality to be, and hopefully empower ourselves to create that reality by repeating that proclamation regularly. While the science on the success of affirmations less robust, writing affirmations down has been proven to, at a minimum, reduce stress in situations where stress can be high. For example, college students who utilize positive affirmations before big exams are often able to cope with the stress of test taking better because of this boost to self esteem that helps them cope in the moment. (1,2)
Affirmations work less well when the people using them have low self esteem and don’t believe the affirmation they are using. This practice tends to make them actually feel worse about themselves. (2)
For this challenge, write something you already know about yourself. Yep, let’s take a look at you. What is it about you that you really like? For me, it’s that I can laugh at almost anything, no matter how dark. My message to myself might be “You find the funny, and spread it.” Or maybe because the kiddos have been particularly challenging this week, “You are a loving mama, and they know it.”
Why write it if I know it? Because writing something down and seeing it repeatedly is the easiest way to refocus yourself on this idea. I may know I’m healthy and educated, but it’s not something that resides at the forefront of my consciousness unless someone calls attention to it. Today, that someone is you. Call attention to something you need to remember about yourself. Write it down. Read it. Think about it. Read it again later. Think about it again. Now you have crossed over into the benefits of positive thinking. Does it feel a little forced? Sure. Is it going to embarrass or hurt you? NO! Is it great modeling for your family? You bet. If you happen to be the type that cringes at a compliment, and can’t fathom delivering one openly to yourself, let’s go for baby steps. Write something positive about yourself and put it on a post-it on your computer or your steering wheel — somewhere that only you will see it, feeling the positivity without making it public.
Remember: write it, post it, read it, feel it … read it, feel it … read it, feel it. You know it’s true, but it is good to be reminded.
Need help getting started? Here are some ideas and exercises to help you find what you need to say to yourself today.
- Barker J. The power of positive talking. WebMD: Express Yourself: Your Mouth, Your Life. Web MD. 2013. Accessed Mar 15, 2017.
- Ray Williams. Do self-affirmations work? Psychology Today. May 5, 2013. Accessed Mar 15, 2017.