Affirmations are a growing trend in today’s popular culture; but sometimes affirmations are mistaken for ‘phrases of attraction’ like “I am healthy. I accept health” etc that may or may not correspond to reality but encourage you to think positively.
On the other hand, affirmations are about reality. They are truthful statements that remind us of things, which our minds (due to mental illness) can convince us are lies. For example, depressed people are often convinced that they are unloved by others, and would be better off dead; this is often a lie.
Affirmations verbally give you a hug when you need a little encouragement.
Here are my top 5 mental health affirmations that can serve as positive anchors to hold on to when things get tough during the day:
1. I am not my diagnosis: Sometimes, we feel inadequate because we have a mental illness. We, then tend to associate negative adjectives of the illness to ourselves, for example, I am defective, I can never be happy, I can’t get better. In these moments, remind yourself that YOU ARE NOT YOUR DIAGNOSIS. You are not defective because you have a mental illness anymore than a shortsighted person is defective for wearing glasses.
2. I am doing my best: When you’re overwhelmed with work or life, it is easy to feel like you aren’t putting in enough effort and that others would do better in your situation. Please remind yourself that this is literally the first life you’ve ever lived! You might make some mistakes but ultimately you’re doing your best with the knowledge and resources you have to manage whatever life throws at you.
3. I am worthy of love and belonging: The fact that you have a mental illness doesn’t make you less of a human being. It really doesn’t. You, no matter what you’re experiencing, are worthy of love and belonging.
4. I am loved and wanted: There are times when we feel completely and utterly worthless, and that the world would be better off without us. In such times, it is important to say these words to yourself ‘I am loved and wanted’. There is always someone/people out there who love us, who would be heart-broken if anything happened to us. It could be family, friends or even total strangers (we never know what positive impact our lives has had on others).
5. I am a gift: Yes you are! Remind yourself of this. No one, absolutely no one, can give the world what YOU can give it. The things you’ll accomplish, your smile, your presence are unique to you. Only you can give the world your unique goodness.
Whenever things get difficult and the days are a bit tougher to get through, hold on to these affirmations for a sense of peace.
- Esohe Iyare, a DHI volunteer contributed this piece from Lagos, Nigeria