Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT
Words have a profound impact on our lives. "Work Hard." "Keep Going, You'll Make It." Or "You're a failure." "You're not good enough." How we communicate our words can either build individuals up and empower them or tear them down and instill self-doubt. Among various forms of communication, words of affirmation hold a unique power to transform our mindset and enhance our overall well-being. Think of when you walked into a doctor's office or waited in the lobby for your next therapy session with a poster plastered on the wall that read, "Take What You Need" or "Pyramid of Success for a Healthier Lifestyle." Affirmations communicate our love, appreciation, support, and respect for ourselves and others. In this blog post, we will explore words of affirmation, their significance, and how they can positively influence our lives and relationships around us.
Affirmations are powerful tools to transform your mindset and eliminate negative thoughts and emotions. By using positive statements in the present tense, you can keep yourself focused and productive and build healthy self-esteem. Affirmations work because they signal the reward system in our brains that helps us adapt throughout our lives. When we imagine positive outcomes and visualize ourselves achieving them, we activate the part of the brain associated with positive emotions and experiences. Having and maintaining a positive mindset can lead to success and happiness.
Understanding Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are verbal expressions of support, appreciation, and encouragement that profoundly impact both the speaker and the receiver. As identified by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book "The 5 Love Languages," this love language plays a significant role in building emotional connections and fostering healthy relationships. Whether received or given, words of affirmation can reinforce positive thoughts and emotions, ultimately shaping our self-perception and belief systems with what we align with. Some examples of words of affirmations you may have heard or used before could be:
I appreciate you.
Thank you for…
It made me so happy when you….
I'm sorry I hurt you.
I like/love you.
You've inspired me!
When recognizing and practicing ways to share words of affirmation, always remember to:
Speak from the heart and express empathy
Communicate specifically the things you appreciate about someone or yourself
Offer additional words of encouragement that highlight personal strengths and valuable qualities
Positive words have the power to nourish our self-confidence. When we consistently receive affirming words, our sense of self-worth and belief in our abilities are strengthened. They help counteract negative self-talk and replace it with an optimistic mindset. Regular exposure to words of encouragement and praise can lead to healthier self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life. It is easy to jump to negative conclusions about ourselves and others, but reframing our thoughts helps to harness our mind's power by redirecting our intentions toward the best version of ourselves and our goals in life. For example, the Little Engine could always repeat to itself, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can," when trying to overcome rugged terrain to reach its destination. The train (similarly to us) repeatedly spoke positively about itself and began to believe, which built up its self-confidence, and in the end, reached its destination! Again, if we repeat positive words and affirmations often enough, we will believe the affirmation, and our situation or behaviors will improve. Here are several affirmations to try repeating to yourself daily:
I am at peace with myself.
I deserve to be happy.
I am embracing and enjoying the present moment.
My future is cheerful and bright.
Affirmation plays a crucial role in building and fostering healthy relationships. Whether it is our romantic partner, family members, friends, or colleagues, expressing words of affirmation strengthens the emotional bond and deepens trust. Affirming words can make others feel valued, appreciated, and respected. By consciously incorporating words of affirmation in our daily interactions, we can create a positive and nurturing environment for our relationships to flourish.
Love languages are crucial in expressing and receiving love in a relationship. The five types of love languages are service, gift giving/receiving, quality time, physical touch, acts of kindness, and words of affirmation. Understanding each other's love languages is essential for building a strong and fulfilling connection. Words of affirmation are one of the most common love languages found in relationships. Expressing love through spoken words is a powerful way to communicate affection and appreciation. Individuals who resonate with this love language appreciate words of encouragement, heartfelt notes or letters, thoughtful text messages or emails, and the exchange of uplifting quotes and phrases.
If your partner's love language is words of affirmation, try complimenting them or sharing positive thoughts about them and your relationship to brighten their day. This may look like, "I care about you and want you in my life," "I trust you," "I look forward to building a future with you," "I love you."
If you're someone whose love language is words of affirmation and desire to receive more from your partner, be open and honest with them to communicate your needs in the relationship. Ways to ask your partner for words of affirmation can look like:"I appreciate it when you tell me I'm doing a good job," "I love to hear your encouraging words when I am having a bad day," "I value your support and your kind words are what I need to make me feel happy."
To effectively share words of affirmation with your loved one, it is essential to be specific. Instead of generic compliments, tailor your affirmations to highlight the unique qualities and actions that you adore about your partner. For example, saying, "I love how you make me feel when I am with you because of your warm and supportive nature," or "You radiate beauty and energy today, making the world a brighter place," ensures a meaningful and heartfelt message. Some things to avoid when expressing words of affirmation are assuming your partner knows they feel loved or appreciated, forced compliments, and going long periods without expressing your love and appreciation to them. Regularly practicing specific and sincere affirmations can help deepen your emotional connection and create a more loving relationship.
Parenting and Words of Affirmation
Becoming a parent can be rather daunting, and often burnout seems inevitable no matter how many kids are under your care, and it impacts their emotional, physical, and social development. Children learn from their environment and seek approval for what they do well, whether going to the bathroom alone, receiving an A on a project, or spending time with their loved ones. Parents have a profound impact on shaping their child's self-image and confidence. Intentionally using words of affirmation as a parenting tool can provide a solid foundation for a child's emotional well-being and development. Praising children for their efforts, achievements, and strengths helps instill a sense of self-worth and resilience within them. A few affirmations to say to your child[ren] to know they are loved are:
"I am proud of you for doing that yourself."
"You are very talented at..."
"It's okay to make mistakes. We learn and grow from it."
"That was very generous of you to share with me/your siblings."
"I love you!"
Additionally, applying words of affirmation to yourself as a parent can help you get through some of those challenging moments of parenthood. Consider exploring couple counseling for additional support in strengthening your family bond. Here are examples of affirmations to remind yourself during difficult times with your kids:
"My child is not giving me a hard time; they are having a hard time, and I can help."
"I don't love these struggles, but I love my kids."
"My child[ren] and I are learning as we go."
"Even in these tough moments, my family still loves me."
"I am a good enough parent."
Self-Affirmation and Personal Growth
Besides external sources, self-affirmation is equally powerful in transforming our lives and aiding personal growth. By intentionally using positive self-talk and practicing self-affirmation, we can reshape our belief system and develop a more optimistic mindset. This, in turn, allows us to overcome self-doubt, embrace our unique strengths, and reach our full potential. Effective affirmations are not just about different ways of saying how much you like yourself. Still, it is about identifying areas about yourself that you value and building up a stronger sense of self and self-worth. As challenging as growth and improvement can seem, try repeating these to yourself three times a day or write them on a card or post-it note in areas you can see daily to stay motivated on your journey:
Mistakes are stepping stones toward becoming a more robust and better version of myself.
I am capable of doing great things.
Strength comes from growth, and growth comes from challenges.
Today, I choose to make it a great day.
I allow myself time and space for healing.
I let go of things I can't control.
The power of words of affirmation is undeniable. By incorporating them into our daily lives, families, and relationships, we can experience a significant positive shift in our and others' lives. Words possess the ability to heal, empower, and inspire. Neurofeedback Counseling Center in Pennsylvania provides professional assistance in this endeavor by offering specialized therapy to help embrace the practice of affirming ourselves and others, offering a lifeline of positivity in a world often filled with criticism and negativity. As we harness the magic of words of affirmation, we will witness their transformative impact on our relationships, self-confidence, and overall happiness and fulfillment.