Talk yourself up


Pursuing the true power of positive thinking calls for a toolkit filled with strategies and exercises to evoke optimism and contentment. Nurse Navigator Jill Zahm, RN MSN, with the Parkview Center for Healthy Living shares some of her tried-and-true techniques for a brighter, sunnier outlook.

We’ve all heard the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” but what can you do, specifically, to improve your attitude, especially on those days you just don’t feel like smiling? Positive affirmations are a great way to develop a more positive perception of yourself. What’s a positive affirmation? It’s simply positive self-talk. It’s an uplifting statement we can write about ourselves or our situation, phrased in the present tense as if the statement is already true. 

Positive affirmations can be used to change destructive behaviors or accomplish goals. Sometimes we can get caught in a cycle of negative self-talk; those things we repeatedly tell ourselves or others repeatedly tell us, that contribute to a negative self-perception. Positive affirmations can help you break free of that cycle.

Remember, moving toward a more positive perception doesn’t happen overnight. All those negative perceptions you have about yourself took time to be instilled, and it will take time to fully embrace a new way of thinking. Try writing one today and see where it takes you. Here is a simple method to get you started:

Positive Affirmations in 5 Simple Steps

1. Identify your negative self-talk and beliefs. What are those negative statements you find yourself thinking? Write them down on the left side of  a blank sheet of paper.

2. Create affirmations out of those beliefs by reframing the wording. Change phrases such as “I can’t,” to “I am” or “I am learning to,” and write them on the right side of the paper.

3. Cut the paper in half and crumple the left side – even toss it at the wall if you like. Those thoughts are gone.

4. Post the right side of the paper somewhere you’ll see it often; carry it with you in your wallet, secure it to your sun visor or inside your medicine cabinet, or tape it to your mirror so you see it each time you brush your teeth.

5. Start using the new affirmations by speaking them out loud a few times a day. Choose a time or activity to anchor it to so you won’t forget.

If you have difficulty creating an affirmation, that’s ok, it isn’t easy. You can purchase boxes of affirmation cards at bookstores or use an online resource to get you started. If you catch yourself thinking or saying any of your old, negative statements, stop yourself. Transform it into the positive affirmation, right then and there and move on.


Another way to create positive affirmations is to write words of truth-attributes that you love about yourself – such as “I’m a good friend,” “I’m smart,” or “I love my freckles” – on a paper or mirror and look at it when you need a boost. This is a fun activity to do with others. Sometimes they will point out positive attributes you might not even recognize in yourself.

Looking for more guidance on your wellness journey? Contact the Parkview Center for Healthy Living to see how they can help.