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Self-affirmations that Work

Chapter 3: Self-affirmations that Work

Tools for Personal Growth

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.


Before we can become self-affirming, we need to learn about the effects of negativism in our lives. 

What are negative self-scripts?

Negative self-scripts are the:

  • Negative beliefs you have about yourself and of which you remind yourself daily.
  • Negative statements about yourself which sprinkle your every­day conversation.
  • Self-deprecating remarks that influence your behavior or beliefs.
  • Negative descriptions given to you by members of your family of origin or peer group when you were younger onto which you hold even to this day.
  • Negative feedback you get from your spouse, boss, teacher, colleagues, children, parents, relatives, or others that you take personally and incorporate into your personal belief system.
  • Negative self-images you have of your body, looks, face, weight, coloring, hair, feet, or other parts of your body, which as you visualize, influence your presentation of self to others.
  • Negative assessment you or others have made of your competency, skills, ability, knowledge, intelligence, creativity, or common sense. You have agreed with this internally and, thus, believe it true of you.
  • Negative stories about your past behavior, failures, or performances that you systematically run over in your mind and which influence your current conduct.
  • Negative attitudes about the possibility of your achievement of success in your life; these influence your motivation, effort, and drive for attainment of goals.
  • Negative visualizations you have of your current status or state in life to your personal detriment.
  • Feelings of anger, resentment, hostility or rage you feel toward others for real or imagined mistreatment. This so immobilizes you that your emotional growth gets stunted and you feel negatively about both yourself and life in general.
  • Feelings of guilt for real or imagined debilitating wrongs you have committed that prevent positive self-valuing thoughts.
  • Negative prophecies that you or others have made about your­self, your future, your success, your relationships, your family, or your health; these haunt you as you face a daily struggle to “win" in life.
  • Ways in which you deny yourself rewards for your goodness, hard work and caring by: (1) not taking time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, (2) living in a style of self denial and austerity and (3) being afraid to let down your guard and relax, lest you fail to achieve your “Big Pay Off."
  • Feelings of over-responsibility with which you burden yourself. This includes the feeling that others in your life will never be able to fully take care of themselves and that you are “responsible" for them no matter what.
  • Dread and fear you have when facing your future; the belief that you do not have what it takes to survive or to be successful in whatever circumstances you face.
  • Feelings of failure you harbor about real or imagined mistakes in the past and your “assured" failures in the future.
  • Feelings of jealousy you harbor toward others whom you perceive (real or imagined) to be more successful, prettier, luckier, better liked, smarter, more talented, more creative, and generally better off than you.
  • Feelings of inferiority you harbor about yourself and the belief that no matter what you do in life, it will never be “good enough."
  • Feelings that there is someone in your life (e.g., your spouse, one of your parents, a family member, a former teacher, a peer, co-worker, a boss) from whom you are still waiting to receive recognition of your worth, your goodness, your competency, your beauty, and your overall qualities.
What is the outcome of believing in negative self-scripts?
The outcome of believing in negative self-scripts can include:


Over-dependence on the approval of others: You have an inordinate need to receive positive reinforcement or approval for what you are, how you act, and what you do from others, with an inability to be self-rewarding.


Lack of self-esteem and low self-concept: You have an inability to believe in your own worth,inability to see any value in your own life, a poor self-image, and a lack of belief in your competency to succeed in life.


Immobilization: A rigid belief system immobilizes you from taking risks in life, prevents you from wanting to make a change, freezes your feelings into a negative pattern, and convinces you that your only role in life is to be victimized by those from whom you cannot escape.


Negativity: Your negative view of yourself leads you to see all of your world in a negative light. You begin to believe and act as a “loser." You see nothing in a positive light and can't be convinced that there is a better option in life.


Pessimism: You no longer believe that you will succeed and are no longer willing to take an optimistic position as you look to your future. You can see only gloom and doom on the horizon.


Self-pity: You begin to feel so sorry for yourself and how life has treated you that you become your best “pity party" guest. You are so lost in your self-sorrow, regrets, remorse, sympathy, and pity that you refuse to be shaken or changed. You begin to believe that no one will notice you if they can't feel sorry for you too.


Cynicism: You take a “yes, but" cynical look at every suggestion for change in your life. You begin to doubt in the sincerity, kindness, and love of others who are trying to help you. You create a barrier of cynicism to block them out, thus convincing yourself when they leave you that they really didn't care.


The “Guard-All Shield": You create an invisible shield, tough for others to see or to penetrate. People will approach you and try to get involved, but you zap them with your shield and they back away or turn and run. The shield is so subtle that at times you don't even know it exists, and you get confused by people pulling away from you. This shield can take the form of coldness, wise cracking, fear of being hurt, aloofness, unwillingness to change or take a risk, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of intimacy, fear of failure, fear of hurting others, or any other feeling that keeps you from connecting emotionally with another person.


Fulfillment of the Prophecy: Because negative self-scripts predict the worst, you at some subconscious level work to achieve the worst and succeed in fulfilling the negative prophecy of: failure, rejection, loss, disapproval, or any other catastrophe or malady. It is a pattern of being self-destructive with one's life.


Depression: Because of the anger, resentment, rage, hurt, disappointment, disillusionment, and suffering you experience from your negative self-scripting you are a “good" candidate for firm and long-lasting depression. Your emotions can become so stuck, rigid, and constricted that you can be embedded into a deep sense of melancholy, blue funk, and loss of hope. At this stage you are a candidate for mental health intervention before the depression reaches a despair level and you become even more self-destructive, possibly physically ill or suicidal.

What are self-affirmations?

Self-affirmations are:

  • Healing, positive sself-scripts you give to yourself to counter your negative self-scripts.
  • Vehicles by which you can free yourself from the over-dependence on other's opinions, attitudes, or feelings about you and feel good about yourself.
  • The visualization of a new order and sense in your life, which you can work toward achieving.
  • You take personal responsibility for your health and emotional stability.
  • You let go of negative emotional baggage you have been carrying. Only then will you be able to deal with your life in a realistic and positive manner.
  • The resolution of feelings from the past so that you can face the present with a less obstructed view.
  • You give yourself permission to grow, to change, to take risks, to rise up, and to create a better life for yourself.
  • You take a “healthy selfish” or self-oriented route in your life so that you can “let go" of these people who drain your resources and keep you from experiencing full personal health.
  • The recognition of your rights and affirming your claim on them, giving you an equitable chance of achieving your fullest potential.
  • Success prophecies that, when visualized, imagined, or believed in, do come true.
What shapes can positive self-affirmations take?
“I” statements:
“I” statements are one line statements that can be repeated to cover three areas:
I am: A statement of who you are.

This is a positive affirmation of a real state of being that exists in you. You can achieve a full list of I am statements by taking a personal positive inventory of your attributes, strengths, talents, and competencies.

Examples include:

  • I am competent                             
  • I am energetic
  • I am strong                                   
  • I am enthusiastic
  • I am intelligent                              
  • I am relaxed
  • I am beautiful                               
  • I am joyful
  • I am a good person                      
  • I am trusting
  • I am caring                                   
  • I am generous
  • I am loving                                    
  • I am courageous
  • I am smart                                    
  • I am forgiving
  • I am creative                                 
  • I am open
  • I am talented                                
  • I am sharing
I can: A statement of your potential.

This is a positive affirmation of your ability to accomplish goals. It is a statement of your belief in your power to grow, to change, and to help yourself. I can statements are developed after you develop a set of “short-term" (three to six months) goals.

Examples include:

  • I can lose weight                       
  • I can grow
  • I can stop smoking                    
  • I can heal
  • I can handle my children            
  • I can let go of guilt
  • I can gain self-confidence         
  • I can let go of fear
  • I can take risks                         
  • I can change
  • I can be a winner                      
  • I can be positive
  • I can be strong                         
  • I can be a problem-solver
  • I can pass calculus                   
  • I can handle my own problems
  • I can laugh and have fun           
  • I can be honest with my feelings
  • I can be assertive                     
  • I can let go of over-responsibility
  • I can control my temper            
  • I can succeed
I will: A statement of positive change in your life.

This is a positive affirmation of a change you want to achieve. It is a positive statement of what you want to happen. It is a “success prophecy." I will statements are developed after you have set your priorities for the short-term goals you have set.

Examples include:
  • I will like myself better each day.
  • I will gain emotional strength each day.
  • I will lose weight each day.
  • I will smoke less each day.
  • I will control my temper today.
  • I will give others responsibility for their lives today.
  • I will grow emotionally stronger each day.
  • I will smile more at my customers today.
  • I will offer my comments in class today.
  • I will praise my children today.
  • I will feel good things about me today.
  • I will sleep easily tonight.I will feel less guilt each day.
  • I will face my fears courageously today.
  • I will take on only what I can handle today.
  • I will take care of me today.
  • I will challenge myself to change today.
  • I will manage my time better today.
  • I will handle my finances wisely today.
  • I will take a risk to grow today.

I am

I can    Statements of Self-belief

I will


The daily use of these “I” statements is another form of self-affirmation designed to counter negative self-concept. It can result in a positive attitude, optimism, and can motivate you toward emotional growth and progress.

Affirmation Visualizations

These are word images or pictures and scenario visualizations, all affirming positively.


Word Visualizations:

Step 1:  Take any single target word about who you are, your ability, or what you want to accomplish. Write it on a 3 x 5 card.


Step 2:  Get yourself into a relaxed state, preferably just before you go to bed. Hold the card about 12" to 24" from your eyes. Focus your eyes on the word and concentrate your attention. Hold this thought for up to 20 or 30 minutes.


Step 3:  Do this exercise nightly for at least two weeks. As you continue, you are burning the image of your goal word into your mind. It will be with you in your thoughts as you proceed in your everyday life.

Image Visualization:

Step 1:  Create or find an image of an object, person, or thing that embodies your goal for who you are, what your abilities are, or what you want to accomplish.

Visual a:
  • comfortable house
  • rainbow
  • diploma
  • sunset
  • cruise ship
  • calm ocean
  • happy-healthy child
  • sunny day
  • slim body
  • snow-topped mountain


Step 2:  Get yourself into a relaxed state and either look at the picture or imagine you reaching your goal. Do this for 20 minutes each night for one month.


Step 3:  Get xeroxed copies of your picture or a simulation of your goal, and tape them in places where you will see them as you go through your normal day.


Step 4:  Continue to keep your images in place until you have accomplished the “goal" feelings of success and/or achieved the “object" success. The important thing is to believe that it is possible to achieve. This motivation is the most important step on your journey to success.

Scenario Visualizations:

Step 1:  Once you have a goal in mind for yourself, daydream a full color movie in your mind of what your life would be like if you achieved the goal.


Step 2:  Record yourself talking out the whole movie. Be fully descriptive, colorful, positive, and uplifting. Use your imagination to the fullest and describe how positively you will be handling the change resulting from your goal attainment. Describe how key “significant others" in your life will cope successfully with your change. Save this recording for future reference.


Step 3:  Write out a description of the goal attainment scenario, and keep it handy for future reference.


Step 4:  When you are in a relaxed state, listen to the recording and read your description of the scenario every day for two weeks.


Step 5:  Refer back to the recording and script as time goes on until you have reached full attainment of your goal.

Self-affirmation Statements:
These forms of affirmation are words, phrases, or statements written on 3 x 5 index cards and placed where you can see them daily and be reminded of positive aspects about yourself. Every time you see these affirmation cards they will remind you to affirm yourself about these positive qualities or attributes. State all affirmations in a positive way.

Suggested places for affirmation cards

  • mirror in bathroom                                      
  • dashboard of car
  • mirror on dresser
  • desk at office
  • on closet door
  • on desk at home
  • refrigerator door                                           
  • in your wallet
  • on front door
  • in your brief case
  • on bedroom door
  • in books you use at work or school
  • on telephone, cell phone,
  • on screen of computer, laptop, I-Pad, etc


Affirmation word examples:

  • Bright
  • capable
  • creative         
  • strong
  • intelligent     
  • beautiful
  • smart             
  • giving
  • quick             
  • peaceful
  • loving            
  • hopeful
  • caring
  • responsible
  • successful
  • problem solver
  • calm
  • quiet
  • pretty
  • handsome
  • relaxed         
  • enjoyable

Affirmation phrase examples:

  • think happy 
  • take it easy
  • be calm         
  • think wisely
  • take action   
  • work smart
  • do it               
  • take the time
  • do it now      
  • have fun
  • be a winner 
  • relax and enjoy
  • take a risk     
  • sit back
  • dare to be different
  • step back
  • seize the opportunity
  • take the lead
  • get in control
  • give them space
  • let go
  • believe in me
  • let them be
  • trust in me
  • let it be
  • enjoy good health


Affirmation statement examples:

  • I can be a winner.
  • I am the best friend I have.
  • I have solved problems like this before.
  • I have the ability to handle this.
  • I am a capable human being.
  • I deserve to love and to be loved.
  • I am a skillful and artistic person.
  • I can show others a good example.
  • Letting go is best for them and for me.
  • They will thank me in the future.
  • Nothing is worth losing my sanity over.
  • I am responsible only for my own feelings.
  • I owe no one explanations for my behavior, which is legally, morally, and ethically correct.
  • I deserve to have my rights recognized.
  • I am a deserving human being.
  • I deserve to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
  • I deserve to be rewarded for what I do.
  • I love myself for who I am.
  • It is OK to be selfish if I don't hurt anyone.
  • I like the way I handle problems.
  • I am able to handle any problem I face.
  • I have the right to feel the way I do.
  • My children will benefit from my healthy changes.
  • My children will survive my healthy changes.
  • My family will benefit from my relaxing more.
  • I deserve to relax more and take it easy.
  • There are beautiful things happening in my life daily.
  • I experience the excitement of growth daily.
  • Change is a blessing I am working toward.
  • Taking risks is the path to growth.
  • I grow in love daily.
  • I face each new day as a race to be won.
  • I am winning in the race of life.
  • I am a rich treasure ready to be found.
  • Let others know who I am.
  • Say hello to a new person today.
  • Open up to be loved today.
  • Be responsible relax.
  • Letting go is loving
  • Be free of guilt today.
  • To be loved I must love.
  • God does not make junk.
  • There are opportunities in life to be tried.
  • My possibilities are endless.
  • Success is to be enjoyed.
  • Open myself up with one new person today.
  • Belief in self is a step toward personal growth.
  • I can handle all changes that come my way.
  • There is nothing I cannot handle.
  • Smile and let others in on the secret.


Affirmation-of-the-day exercise:

Write a single positive affirmation on thirty 3 x 5 index cards. Take one card a day for each day of the month. This card is your affirmation for the day. When you get to the last card start again.


To make this daily affirmation process grow, write out thirty different affirmations for each month of the year. Keep the 360 cards in a recipe box and continually use the collection year after year, adding new affirmations as you need them.