Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
We all talk to ourselves.  Sometimes we talk outloud and sometimes we just think the words. This "self-talk" has a direct influence on our personality and our behavior.We are doing something and we trip. The first thing that comes to our mind  is "I am really clumsy".  We may be balancing our check book and it comes out incorrect. We may think to ourself "I really am stupid".  This "self-talk" serves as a negative affirmation and helps to keep our self-esteem suppressed. To boost your self-esteem, you need to catch yourself each time you think something negative about yourself.  Stop and write it down and then write a positive affirmation that directly counteracts the negative thought you had.  
A positive affirmation to counteract "I really am stupid" could be "I am very smart".  Write the affirmation in first, second and third person: I am very smart, you are very smart and he/she is very smart. The affirmations are written this way because this is generally how people learn to think negatively about themselves.  For example, before you ever said "I am stupid" you probably heard someone else telling you "you are stupid".  Or, you heard people talking about you "he's stupid" or "she is a dumb person".  This is how our self-esteem is developed.
Affirmations should be positive, in the present tense and in the form where what you want to happen has already happened.  For example, you wouldn't say "I am getting smarter" or "I will be smarter".  "I am smart" is positive, present tense and already accomplished.  Affirmations should be said three or four times in a row when you first wake up in the morning, before you go to sleep at night, and three or four more times during the day.  Continue until you notice a change in how you are thinking and feeling about yourself.  You may use three or four different affirmations at the same time as long as they support each other. 
This is a good time to introduce you to the use of the mirror.  Stand in front of the mirror and say your affirmations out loud while looking at yourself in the mirror. Put feeling into it. You can use the mirror in the morning and at night and just repeat the affirmations during the other times during the day.  It does appear that saying the affirmations outloud in front of the mirror does produce a stronger effect than just saying them silently in your head. 
Affirmations do work.  I use them myself.  The real trick is to not become impatient and give up too soon.  I have my affirmations written on an index card that I carry with me and I also have them written on post-it-notes that I stick around my work area.  It took us a long time to become the kind of person we are and affirmations are not going to change us overnight. Be persistent! You will be focusing on the positive characteristics you want to achieve and this will help keep you on track. 
There are different types of visualizations as well as other techniques you can use to boost your self-esteem.  Start using this one now and your self-esteem will start improving. You can also check out Dr. Yarnell's Affirmations For Adults CD by clicking here.
Copyright 2003 - 2008  Thomas D. Yarnell, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
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