If you suffer from low self-esteem and are in to self-help resources or are in therapy, then you may have learned about positive affirmations as a tool to improve your confidence. If you have used them and found them to be helpful, then great! Keep using them. But if you have tried them and found that they don’t affect your confidence or even make your confidence worse, then you may just need to tweak the type of affirmation you’re using. Here are three ways that positive affirmations can backfire and ways to use them in a way to really get you to see yourself in a positive light.
1)They can be invalidating
If you feel like you are the stupidest person in the room, then repeating over and over to yourself that you are smart can feel not only fake, but it can make you feel invalidated. Invalidation happens when your feelings and thoughts are not seen and accepted. While it’s common for the term invalidation to be used in the context of interpersonal relationships, you can invalidate yourself. Not to say that you should tell yourself your stupid if you feel stupid, but when you use affirmations that are the exact opposite of what you are trying to change, it can often backfire.
2)They reinforce the idea that you have to be unique
You don’t have to be unique to be worthy. Using the smart example again, telling yourself that you are smart when you don’t feel like you are, reinforces the idea that you NEED to be smart to be a likeable and/or loveable person. The truth is, there is always going to be someone smarter than you in the room and it is not a requirement to gain love and acceptance form other people or yourself.
3)They can remind you of all of the things that you aren’t
By repeatedly making statements that you feel are complete lies about yourself, it can create a “grass is greener” experience. Where you feel like these affirmations that you are repeating are far-fetched concepts that you will “maybe someday get to but probably not.” The reality is you can embrace yourself, with all of your flaws and not need to change a thing.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, I by no means am saying that positive affirmations don’t work, this was meant for people who have tried them and felt like they haven’t helped them or for people that they don’t resonate with. I personally am not a huge advocate of positive affirmations because of the reasons listed above. I am way more of a fan of acceptance of self despite flaws, and not needing to change or be different to get the love and acceptance we all crave in this life.
I would love to hear your thoughts on affirmations, if they have helped you or if you also are not a huge fan. Let me know in the comments!