Top Skills Thursday: Affirmation

I focus a bunch on the skills to manage anxiety. My reasoning for this is anxiety, left to build itself to a peak, leads to depression. I first noticed this cycle within myself and have had multiple therapists confirm that it is common.

Today, I’m going to focus on a skill to help with depression. The fact is, sometimes we do all the things and the anxiety just rages on. When that happens, or when depression just sneaks it’s lying self into your life, there are things you can do to help it get better. Therapy and medication are not your only resources, as helpful as they are. Between therapy sessions, and while waiting for medication to take effect, you’ll want tools to keep you moving.Affirmations sometimes get laughed off as wishful thinking. As with so many other things related to mental health, this is rooted in misunderstanding. Affirmations are grounded in fact and truth. For example:

I am an intelligent, creative, caring woman.

This is an affirmation about myself. I have evidence of my intelligence because I graduated magna cum laude. I am creative and the evidence exists in the art I made which hangs on my walls, multiple crochet patterns I designed myself, my writing, and even my experimentation in the kitchen. I am caring, and the evidence of this is seen in how I reach out to others, and even in writing this blog.

If I know all these things about myself, why write an affirmation? Because when depression comes to visit, I forget them. I lose faith in every capability and every good thing about myself.

The best time to write affirmations is before depression hits, and believe it or not, copying them during depression will help rewire your brain to accept the truth about yourself. However, if you’re depressed now, and need that tool, sit down and write three affirmations. If you can’t think of any, ask someone close to you to help.

Start each affirmation with yourself. “I” or “my” are perfect.

Write in the present tense. Don’t say, “I was,” or, “I will,” but rather say, “I am.”

Write one affirmation in direct opposition to a negative thought about yourself. For example, “I just weigh people down.” To fight that thought, try something like, “I am worthwhile and people care about me.”

Make your affirmations about things you can believe about yourself. If you write, “I manage my finances well,” but you know you have a problem with impulse buying, that affirmation won’t work. Instead you could write, “I am willing to reconsider purchases and my actual need for them.”

Lastly, your affirmations have to be positive statements. You’re not allowed to use “can’t” “don’t” “won’t” or anything else. Those words derail the usefulness of the tool.

Now, for bonus points, you can try something I’ve done in the past. Using a grease pen or a lipstick, write your affirmations on your bathroom mirror. Stand in front of it and read them aloud, while looking at yourself. It feels stupid. I never did it that I didn’t feel sheepish and strange. However, it works. Those statements will get ground into your head just as if someone else were saying them to you every day.

Since we’re talking about depression, please do get help if you’re depressed? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You didn’t choose it. It happened to you. You can get through it, and if you think about it, you know you can because you have before. Just don’t cut yourself off from seeking help. If you broke your arm you would see a doctor, and this is no different.

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