Updated: May 1
‘Know your worth.’
‘Know your value and add tax.’
‘You are enough.’
Some of a plethora of motivational quotes we see all over Instagram every time we open our feed. A window into the growing issue of confidence and self-esteem, and lack thereof particularly in the era of social media. But do pretty quotes really make us feel good? Or make us more confident? Maybe.
Affirmations (a cousin of motivational quotes) have been shown to help people overcome anxiety and feel better about themselves. Prior to studying counselling and understanding how deep-rooted certain beliefs are, I believed affirmations to be slightly embarrassing nonsense, however having done the research I’ve changed my mind and can see that they can be an important step in changing our self-beliefs and self-talk.
Some good affirmations are:
· What I have done today is enough.
· Just because I CAN fit something in, doesn’t mean I should.
· I am trying my best.
· I am a good person.
· My worth is not calculated by weight.
How does self-talk shape our self-esteem and confidence? Because, we are often our own harshest critic and would never in a million years speak to someone else the way we speak to ourselves. I know I’ve heard my friends speak about their weight or appearance in a way that if someone said that exact thing to a person they loved, they would be disgusted and appalled. And yet, we think it’s OK to berate ourselves for the tiniest perceived flaws.
Negative self-talk can often be formed from what’s called a ‘cognitive distortion’. There are several types of distortions but what it boils down to is that our brain is processing the information we receive incorrectly. We all have them, and we are all prone to them. This is nothing to be ashamed of, just something to be aware of.
An example of this would be seeing someone who is a size 18 and thinking ‘god she’s fabulous’ while simultaneously berating ourselves for being a size 14. How is it that she, who is in inarguably bigger can be beautiful and fabulous, but we are disgusting and lazy solely because of our size?
Picture: Dove Campaign for real beauty
You can see how illogical this is. I use this as an example because it is one of the most common distortions we experience. Particularly in the world of ‘Insta perfect’ selfies and diet culture fads, it’s easy to feel ‘less than’ a lot of the time. We see picture perfect images thousands of times per day, posed and filtered, the perfect family, the perfect holiday etc. It’s no wonder so many people feel they’re not making the cut.
A commonly used tool in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to counteract these distortions is a ‘thoughts diary’. A thoughts diary is there to bring awareness to our automatic thoughts and responses, and to help us challenge them. In it, we look at:
Situation: e.g., getting ready for a party alone.
Thoughts: e.g., I won’t know many people, no one will talk to me. It will be awful.
Emotions: e.g., Nervous. Sick to my stomach
Response/Behaviours: e.g., Calling my friend to say I’m sick and I can’t make it.
Outcome: e.g., Sitting home alone, feeling like I’m missing out and feeling guilty lying to my friend.
You can download your own thought diary here: