The brain is tremendously powerful. One of the ways that “power” influences each of us is in the self-talk we use to explain events as we navigate life. Self-talk is the discussion we vocalize in recognizable language within our own minds.
Self-talk has long been a topic of serious study in psychology. In sports psychology – also known as performance psychology – experts have long been interested in the way this talk influences a person’s ability to work through a task to the best of his or her ability.
Sports psychologists have found that positive self-talk is generally helpful for those studied
There are two important caveats:
• People with low self-esteem need to address their beliefs to get the most from self-talk.
• People with higher self-esteem get more noticeable immediate benefits from self-talk.
An affirmation is a specific category of self-talk that allows someone to reflect on the type of life he or she wants. An affirmation is aspirational in the sense that it helps the user displace negative beliefs and “make room” for positive habits of thought to take root.
Affirmations Can Help Teens Build a Healthier Worldview
When adolescents and teens have negative thoughts, these usually arise spontaneously.
A young person might be walking down the halls at school and suddenly think:
• “I can’t do anything right.”
• “I’m not popular enough.”
• “I’m just not very smart.”
These sudden thoughts reflect actual beliefs that a young person may develop as a result of hardship, abuse, or even misunderstanding their own circumstances. Whatever the case, though, they have very real effects!
For example, when a teen gets a low grade on an important test, he or she might take it very hard. Thinking about how crucial the test was can lead to a spiral of guilt, doubt, and fear – causing negative thoughts like “I’m just not very smart.”
These thoughts can affect later performance. They might even contribute to depression.
However, most people – teens and adults alike – don’t usually interrogate the contents of their own mind. Thinking about your own thoughts is called meta-cognition, and it’s a skill most people have to practice and develop over a period of time.
Affirmations are specific “positive” messages a person decides to practice at specific times – for example, in the morning, the evening, or whenever a negative thought seems to arise.
Unlike negative thoughts, affirmations are planned and practiced in advance. This is so you use the precise wording and remember to repeat them. They strengthen meta-cognition and self-awareness.
Affirmations are stated in the present and focus on desirable attributes. When they relate directly to negative beliefs, they can help a young person displace those beliefs.