Positive phrases or statements that challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts can motivate you, encourage positive lifestyle changes, and boost your self-esteem. Repeat self-affirmation mantras regularly to fully reap the benefits of this practice and make long-term changes to the way you think and feel.

What the Research Tells Us

Researchers identified three key concepts behind practicing self-affirmations: becoming capable of adapting to different circumstances, developing competency in areas that we personally value as moral and good, and maintaining self-integrity by acting in ways that merit acknowledgement.

Self-affirmations can help us to respond less defensively to threats or uncomfortable situations. A broad sense of self enables us to become more resilient when difficulties arise.

Studies show that practicing self-affirmations can minimize anxiety, stress, and defensiveness associated with threats to our sense of self while also keeping us open to improvement. In addition, self-affirmations reduce stress and boost problem-solving performance under pressure.

How to Practice

Identify what is meaningful to you. Boynton suggested thinking about traits you want to encourage (e.g., confidence, gratitude, presence) and developing phrases that support your growth in that mindset.

Now, put those ideas into sentence form. Think about moments where you have embodied the qualities in your self-affirmations. For example, if you want to affirm that you always go above and beyond in caring for your patients, think about specific examples of how you’ve done so in your practice. Most importantly, don’t let any negative thoughts or experiences that emerge challenge your self-affirmation.

Here are a few examples of positive affirmations to get started:

  • I am strong enough to handle what’s happening to me right now.
  • This situation is difficult, but I have the skills and abilities to deal with it.
  • I can ride this out and not let it get to me.
  • I’ve survived other issues like this, and I’ll survive this one, too.

Now turn your thoughts into action. Recognize when you need to hear your affirmations and start repeating them.

Finally, plan a time to practice: When would self-affirmations be most helpful for you? Do you want to practice them first thing in the morning or throughout the workday? By repeating your self-affirmations, either out loud or silently in your mind, you can make a positive difference in your well-being and patient care.

Use the resources in the sidebar to support your self-affirmation practice.