(Later on you’re going to need a pencil and two pieces of paper, FYI.)
It’s February and almost Valentine’s Day, so I want to talk about a special kind of love, self-love. First, I want you to think about someone you love, like a family member or dear friend. How would you describe them? Think about why you love them; maybe it’s the way they treat you, the things they do for you, the words they say to you, the time they spend with you, etc. Perhaps you’ve told this person how much you appreciate them, what you admire about them, and that you love them.
I want you to reflect on this for a moment. What words would you use to describe yourself? How do you spend your time? How do you treat others? What types of things would you say about yourself? Are there any things that sound like something you’d say behind your back, or you wouldn’t want to say out loud? Those are negative self talk thoughts, and I have them, too.
We talked about self-talk in episode 001, it’s how you talk to yourself or the voice of the thoughts inside your head. As a quick refresher, negative self talk sounds like I’m not, I don’t, I won’t, I can’t, I never, or I always in a bad way. It’s a mean girl, villain, bully voice.
I want you to grab a pencil and paper, and think of a negative self talk thought you’ve had. Pause reading for a moment, write down your negative self talk thought, and then resume.
Now is a great time for me to share this quote:
“Be careful how you are talking to yourselfLisa M. Hayes
because you are listening.”
How did writing down your negative self talk thought make you feel? I know I felt pretty crummy. And I don’t want you to feel that way. So let’s put some self-talk tools to work — first, challenge the negative messages. Is what you wrote down really true? Would you say that to your best friend? I don’t think so.
So please place that piece of paper on the ground. Now lift one foot, and stomp on that paper! Now jump it with both feet! Now pick it up and rip it in half. Rip it all to shreds! Throw that thought in the trash where it belongs! That’s right! Way to challenge that thought.
How do you feel now? I hope you’re feeling better. When you can connect an emotion with action, it has greater impact.
Now I want to build on self-talk by exploring another helpful tool called affirmations.
Affirmations are positive, assertive statements about yourself using adjectives — words that describe you!
Affirmations don’t have to be complicated on lengthy, just simply say, “I am ______.” What would you say you are? That’s where your strengths come in.
Think about your strengths, the things you are good at. There are several kinds of strengths, including creative strengths – art, music, poetry, writing; academic strengths – science, math, history, languages; physical strengths – sports, dance, gymnastics, athleticism; and character strengths – kindness, gratitude, resilience, etc.
So one of these strengths (creative, academic, physical, and character) affects all the others. Can you guess which it is? It’s character strengths! These are part of our personality, and they affect our thoughts, feelings, behavior, and our ability to utilize our other creative, academic, mental and physical strengths. Character strengths reflect what is in you, in your head and your heart.
Now back to affirmations. Grab another piece of paper and write the words, “I am” and finish the sentence. What positive words or adjectives would you use to describe you? I actually have a list I’ll share with you later but I want you to first explore your own thoughts. Remember, you’re practicing positive self-talk.
Okay, have you written an affirmation yet? How do you feel? Eh?
Now I want you to read your affirmation out loud. Say it to yourself. How do you feel?
You might feel a little goofy, but give affirmations a chance — they can boost your confidence, strengthen your self-esteem, and build resilience. The times you don’t feel like saying affirmations are the times you need them most!
Finally, look at yourself in the mirror and say it again, with confidence. How do you feel?
That’s what this is all about — self-love. Being our own best friend we appreciate and admire. Helping ourselves love and accept who we are. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any day of the year, you can practice self-love through affirmations by identifying your strengths and reminding yourself what you love about yourself.
Remember, you are listening.
So speak to yourself with love.
To help you remember to practice self-love through affirmations, I created a list of character strengths that you can read through and choose the ones that describe you, then you can can color, cut out, and glue them on an Affirmations poster (in fact, there are two — one with unicorns and one with lightning bolts; both are rad). So you can print out, personalize, and post it on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.
If you want to learn more about your character strengths, the VIA Institute on Character studies the science behind it, and they have a character survey that helps identify which strengths are your greatest. I took it myself and thought it was really to see what my signature strengths were. Here’s one specifically for youth:
A few books that illustrate this are:
I Think, I Am, by Louise Hay
I Am, I Can: 365 affirmations for kids, by Wynne Kinder (more than an affirmation a day, includes crafts, exercises, and inspiring stories about people)
I Am positive affirmation coloring books by Aaliyah Wilson
If you have favorite books or movies to add, I’d love to hear from you! Ask your parent’s permission to share your favs by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.