How to use affirmations to build self-esteem

When I was 21 and in university, I met one of my friends at a little restaurant near his campus, called Cafe Gratitude. It was a decidedly hippie establishment, and fit right into the Berkeley neighborhood. Instead of a descriptive names, each item on the menu was titled with an affirmation. I watched as Gratitude newbies, like myself, awkwardly made “I am statements”. Servers gently guided patrons from “Uh, I’ll get the worthy one.” into “I am worthy.” There were giggles and eye rolls, as people stated “I am enough”. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I smiled and ordered my “I am” meal as if it I did it every day. As I did, it struck me that this was probably the first time that many of us had ever dared to declare such brazenly explicit self-praise. A decade later and affirmations (positive declarations of self) are growing in popularity, especially for those who believe in the power of manifestation.

For most of us, “I am” statements can still feel a little squirmy. They’re also a target of criticism from those who deem the practice too “woo woo”. The truth is, you don’t have to buy into any sort of greater belief system in order for affirmations to benefit you. You can be Christian, Wiccan, Spirirtual or Athiest with no difference in effect. Positive affirmations have the ability to shift the way that we see ourselves.

We all have things that we believe about ourselves, others, and the world. These systems of belief are a result of our environment, and learned patterns of thought. We are bombarded with messaging all day every day, and much of it comes from within our own heads. Using affirmations is a way to intentionally control the narrative within our own brains.

You can use these constructed messages like a scalpel to strategically reorient your thoughts and overcome self-destructive or limiting thought patterns. The way that this works is you take the negative belief and you reverse it. For example, “I’m bad at first impressions” turns into, “people like me and I make great first impressions”.

You can also use affirmations as a tool to uncover blind spots in your own self-narrative. You do this, is by browsing a list of affirmations and paying attention to what ones stand out to you. Specifically, the ones that make you feel uncomfortable. If a positive affirmation makes feel cringey, like you would hate to say it out loud, there’s a good chance that you’ve uncovered an area that could use some nurturing.

Since many of us are first drawn to affirmations in hopes to boost our confidence or overcome low self-esteem, I’ve compiled a list to help you do exactly that. Read them through and choose 5 that stand our to you. A couple can be ones that you like, but be sure to include some that you are resistant to (that’s when the real magic happens).


Affirmations for self esteem and confidence

  • I am full of positive energy and I spread it in everything I do.
  • My confidence is grounded in my true value.
  • I am enough.
  • I am a strong, capable, human.
  • I deserve to be treated with respect.
  • I trust myself to know the answers.
  • I can trust myself to be authentic.
  • I love myself just as I am.
  • My flaws are an invitation to learn to love myself more deeply.
  • I am happy to put energy into relationships that nurture me.
  • I am a caring human with so much to offer the world.
  • My worth is not defined by my output.
  • I am fully whole, just as I am.
  • My authentic self is the BEST version of me, always.
  • I can trust the good in me.
  • Today is a beautiful day full of potential and opportunities.
  • My experience is valid and important.
  • Everything I need is already within me.
  • I walk the earth with a sense of belonging and wonder.
  • I am whole and complete.
  • My gut feelings and instincts are valuable and I trust them.
  • I deserve love and respect in my relationships
  • I deserve to respected and valued
  • My true self is beautiful.
  • I am at peace with myself in the world.
  • My self worth is not impacted by other peoples’ feedback or any other external forces.
  • I trust myself and my inner knowing.
  • I show up authentically in everything I do.
  • My energy is my own and I can choose how I want to spend it.
  • My self care is important.
  • Being my truest self is the best thing I can do for the world.
  • I forgive myself.
  • I deserve kindness and compassion.
  • My work and contribution are valuable and I deserve to be recognized for them.

For more options, and to really get to know what you’ve got going on, grab this list of 100 transformative affirmations.

Once you find a few that you like, use them daily. Say them to yourself in the mirror, write them down 5x in your journal, post them on your desk, make them a part of your daily narrative.

Soon, you’ll notice that the resistance to these phrases will fade away. One surefire way to know that your affirmations are working are when you notice them pop up in your mind, all on their own. For awhile one of my affirmations was “I trust myself”, everyday, I wrote this down three times at the end of a journaling session. One day, as that voice of doubt began to start up in my mind, all of a sudden another voice came in. Out of nowhere, I heard it say, “I trust myself.” All of that practice paid off right when I needed it. By using affirmations repeatedly we can make them come to us as naturally as negative thoughts once did.

It’s been a decade since that afternoon at Cafe Gratitude and I remember how silly I felt ordering my “I am” meal. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s affirmations, or maybe it’s the times changing but nowadays my stating “I am…”, has become one of the most important parts of my routine


Free: 100 affirmations for building confidence

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