Apologies for the cheesy title. I just wanted to share a CBT-inspired exercise that has often been effective for me in the past when I’ve been feeling crappy. It’s kind of like positive affirmations, with a key difference. It’s not the wishful thinking type (I am happy, I am healthy, I am successful) which, interestingly, research has shown to be at best ineffective for people really struggling with depression and low self-esteem, and at worst detrimental because they can simply serve to widen the gap between how you’re actually feeling (miserable, unhealthy, a failure) versus how you think you should be feeling (happy, healthy, successful).
This exercise is different in that it consists of simply stating some facts about yourself. I try to do this with little expectation of feeling better, and more in the spirit of writing a list of (positive) factual truths about myself. And sometimes it produces a shift in my perception and allows me to see that I am not that bad after all, that maybe I am deserving of happiness. Sometimes it has this effect and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth trying.
My list usually goes something like this:
1. I am intelligent
2. I am creative
3. I make good cakes
4. I have lots of friends
5. I am good at learning foreign languages
6. I am a good rock climber
7. I am generous
8. I have a good sense of humour
9. I am kind to children and animals
10. I am musically able
If this is difficult for you to do, start with five things, or three things. They don’t have to be mind-blowing. ‘I try my best at things’ or ‘I make great coffee’ are totally fine. And if you’re really struggling and are plagued with negative judgements about yourself, I’ve been there many times too. Here are some links to some self-help CBT pages that can help you to challenge your negative self beliefs and low self-esteem:
Lots of love to you all xx