Pressing Pause Podcast episode 43 Build self-belief with the messages you give yourself
Welcome to Pressing Pause, the podcast for overthinkers.
I’m Gabrielle Treanor and I’m here to share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to spend less time overthinking and worrying and more time enjoying your life.
Hello and welcome to episode 43. I’ve some exciting news to share with you! I have added a new element to my meditation course for beginners, it’s a monthly live coaching call. The course itself is self-study so you can go at your own pace and now we have an opportunity to gather online each month to talk about how you’re getting on with meditating, anything you’re finding challenging and we’ll do a live meditation together too.
Exhale is my meditation course for beginners and those who aren’t quite comfortable with it yet, and I created it because I wish something like this had been around when I was trying to figure out how to make meditating a part of my routine. We take it slowly, starting with just three minutes, there’s no emptying of your brain or sitting cross-legged, I share how to deal with the common challenges that come up and you hear from five women who share how they fit meditation into their busy lives with children, work, social lives, everything that you could have going on, and how meditation helps them.
So, you can find out all about Exhale, a beginners’ guide to meditation for overthinkers, and join in the courses section of my website, gabrielletreanor.com, or follow the link in this episode’s show notes at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast.
Now, today I’m looking at the topic of self-talk but in a different way to how I’ve previously spoken about it. In episode 14 I talk about the pesky ‘should’ word, in episode 19 I tackle the issue of saying sorry all the time when you’ve nothing to apologise for, and in episode 35 we look at how using the word ‘yet’ can help us open up to our own potential. Self-talk is a big topic which is why I will keep talking about different aspects of it because there’s always more to explore.
So in this episode we’re going to look at the messages we give ourselves through the statements we tell ourselves over and over in our heads. Essentially I’m going to be talking about affirmations but if that word makes you roll your eyes or you think I’m going all woo-woo on you, hang on a moment and hear me out. Affirmation is simply a shorthand way of describing a statement that affirms a belief. These statements are messages about ourselves which we may wholeheartedly believe, but may not actually be true. But, because it’s what we’re telling ourselves, over and over, it really sinks in and we believe it to be true.
So, tell yourself often enough ‘I’m rubbish at maths’ and you’ll believe it. So much so that the thought of doing sums makes you nervous and you don’t want to even try doing mental arithmetic because you’re convinced you’ll get it wrong.
Whether you think it’s woo or not you already use affirmations because you already tell yourself statements about yourself that you believe.
We have an inner monologue going on most of the time, a little voice in our heads chatting away to us and while we may not always realise it, we listen to that voice and what it says sinks in. So if you’re telling yourself that you look fat, you’re boring, you’re ugly, you’re not brave enough, you’ve no confidence, you’re a nervous wreck – whatever it is, you’ll believe it. Too often the affirmations we tell ourselves, even if we don’t call them that, are negative and make us feel pretty rubbish.
However, the good news is that we can use belief statements or affirmations to help us, to build our confidence and belief in ourselves. Giving ourselves supportive messages in the shape of positive affirmations may feel a bit weird but only because we’re so used to telling ourselves horrible, undermining, mean and negative messages.
So, to create an affirmation or statement of belief that will be helpful to you there are a few things to bear in mind. First of all the statement needs to be in the first person and the present tense. So ‘I am’ is a great opener to an affirmation, it could also be ‘I can’ or ‘I feel’. Then it needs to be completely positive. That might sound obvious but sneaky little negative words can try to wiggle their way in while you think you’re being positive. For example, if you said ‘I am less nervous today than yesterday’ that sounds positive-ish but your brain is still hearing the word ‘nervous’ and as it’s used to being told that you’re nervous it’s going to hang on to it and affirm that word in your head. A more powerful affirmation would be ‘I am more confident today than yesterday’. Now your brain is hearing the word ‘confident’ which is how you want to feel and so is driving home that positive word rather than a negative one.
This brings us onto the last point to remember when creating a new belief statement – make it stretchy but not completely unbelievable. So, for example, if you’re really lacking in confidence, repeating a statement to yourself like ‘I am the most confident person in the world ever’ may feel so far away from yourself that you can’t believe in it at all. We want the affirmation to empower you, to help and support you and while I really hope that one day you do feel that you are the most confident person in the world ever, right now that might feel totally unrealistic. So let’s create a statement that is going to start moving you in the right direction, that feels a bit stretchy but in a good way. For example ‘I am growing in confidence every day’ is in the first person, present tense, it’s positive and while you may not feel very confident right now this affirmation makes it feel like it’s doable, you can grow in confidence every day.
Belief statements or affirmations aren’t magic in that they miraculously make life perfect or you’re instantly trouble-free and have zero worries. Nothing makes life perfect, because perfection isn’t actually possible but that doesn’t mean that affirmations can’t be powerful or effective. You already know how powerful telling yourself something negative is, how it impacts what you think, feel and do, so why not use that same power positively to help and support and encourage you? It’s worth a go.
Now, affirmations don’t need to be a particular length, what’s important is that it’s something you can easily remember and that has an impact on you. So it could be short like ‘I am brave’ or something longer like ‘I am moving closer to my calm, relaxed, fun and fulfilling life every day’. And you can have several different affirmations that you pick and choose from depending on how you’re feeling, what situation you’re in or what you feel would be most supportive on any given day.
Now, while you may tell yourself negative affirmations without really thinking about it, that inner critic just trots them out on a regular basis, with positive affirmations you’re going to need to be a bit more intentional. These encouraging, supportive statements aren’t messages you’re using to being given so you’ll need to consciously create ways and times to repeat them to yourself. And there are different ways of doing this.
You could pick an affirmation and repeat it over in your head while you do a specific daily task like brushing your teeth. Or you could make it part of your regular meditation. You could use a trigger like opening the door to your office so when you put your hand on the door handle that’s the trigger to repeat your affirmation to yourself. Remember this is an act of self-support and encouragement not an obligation so if you forget and only remember when you reach your desk you don’t need to go back through the door again or get cross with yourself for forgetting. It’s important that you’re kind to yourself as you build this new habit of giving yourself positive messages. Being cross with yourself isn’t going to help at all.
Let’s see, you could write your affirmations on post-it notes and stick them around your home so you’re reminded of them throughout the day. You could make it into an image and save it as your desktop picture or lock screen image on your phone. If it’s really short you could use it as a password you use every day. You could write out your affirmations at the top of your diary or journal at the start or end of each day. When you’re in bed ready to sleep you can repeat your affirmation to yourself as you drift off or say it to yourself when you wake up before you get out of bed.
There are lots of different ways you can build positive, supportive, encouraging and motivating statements into your daily life and the more ways you can incorporate them the more effective they’ll be. Try out different affirmations to see how they feel. You may find that some feel more supportive than others, one may be useful for a specific time or challenge while another feels good to repeat at any time whatever the circumstances. You don’t have to tell anyone else what your affirmations are or even that you use them if you don’t want to. What you use as a positive statement of belief, what you find helpful and encouraging is what matters so if you think someone else would think it stupid or silly that doesn’t matter because they need never know about it!
If you want to try on some affirmations for size and see how they fit straight away here are a few suggestions. They might strike a chord with you or not at all so just see how they feel:
I am open for what today brings
I can do this
I am doing my best
I am stronger today than yesterday
I feel light and free
I am growing in confidence every day
I am brave
I am moving closer to my calm, relaxed, fun and fulfilling life every day
A belief statement or affirmation is most powerful when it’s personal to you so if one of those suggestions really resonates use it or make your own to tailor it to work for you just as you need it to. I’ve used affirmations for years, they remind me of how I want to feel or be, and they give me strength, reassurance, confidence and encouragement when I need it. They help me to have more belief in myself and that’s something that I think we could all do with more of.
So, please do message me if you give affirmations a go and how you feel about them, I’m all ears. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or I’m on Instagram as @gabrielletreanor or there’s my Facebook group, a safe place specifically for overthinkers to gather together, look for LessWorryMoreJoy in groups on Facebook or follow the link in this episode 43’s show notes at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.