Monday, February 20, 2012
Talk yourself up: Self Affirmation
A couple of weeks ago I posted Mind Over Matter, about a press release suggesting what a person thinks about an illness plays an important role in their health outcomes. With mental illness, could this be even more important? What is self affirmation and how can it be used by a sufferer to help improve their life?
Self affirmation is nothing new, it's been around for decades and is a major part of many self-help books. Dr Norman Vincent Peale called it 'The Power of Positive Thinking', one of the most famous books on the subject. It's not a complicated procedure & you don't really need a book to tell you how to do it. All that's involved is telling yourself, usually at least once a day (the more the better), something good & positive about yourself. It's something anyone can do.
One common thing for everyone with a depressive illness is that when we're down, all thoughts seem to be totally negative. I don't know how many times I've been down and the thoughts have been things like 'I'm worthless' or 'I don't deserve to be alive'. All this type of thinking seems to do is drive me deeper into depression and an even more miserable form of existence. Not a place anybody really wants to be.
This is where self affirmation could literally save a life!
The last year has been much better for me than a lot of times in my past. It has allowed me to explore many different areas in my life more deeply than before. And one area I've been really lacking is any form of positive self-talk. I've been so used to the depressive side of my illness that very few positive thoughts have been able to get through. I've been wondering how different things might have been if I had forced myself to think at least one truly positive thought. Is it possible to use self affirmation to help someone with a depressive illness out of the lowest of lows?
I don't have an answer to that, but I do believe it can't hurt. It really is something so simple & easy to set-up for yourself. A friend of mine has a simple 'Good morning' message taped to the wall in the bedroom so it's one of the first things she sees each day. So how can you use this as part of your day?
The first thing is to find something positive that means something to you. This could be a quote from somewhere, a saying or just a phrase directed at yourself, even a short poem or prayer. There are thousands of things you can use on the web, or make your own up. It doesn't matter, as long as it's positive & means something to you. It can be something as simple as 'I am worth it!'. If you can't think of something then search the web or buy a good self-help book. My current phrase is 'I deserve the happiness that is in my life'.
It just needs to be short enough so you can memorise it. Write it on a card you can carry with you, stick it on the wall or on your mirror, somewhere that you will see it several times a day. Repetition is the most important step. It can take a bit for it to get through the barriers to happiness we build in our minds. Anything, repeated often enough, becomes truth in our minds, positive or negative. The aim is to replace our depressing, negative thoughts with positive, hopeful ones.
Just find something that gives YOU hope or a little happiness, then keep repeating it as often as you feel the need. Whether you mood is up or down, it doesn't matter, keep repeating it. If you're feeling good it could help you feel even better. If you're down it may help you feel up. Just try and make it part of your day, every day. Who knows, it just may help.
Self affirmation may not be for everyone & some will scoff at it. But it cannot hurt to try. Give it a go & see what happens.
The information contained in this blog can not be considered medical advice. These are only my own thoughts, feelings & ideas. If you or someone you know are having problems with mental illness please seek qualified medical advice.