THINK ABOUT IT: so much of what we see and hear about ourselves and our lives comes from other people – and this starts from an early age.
During your schooling years, you would have been sent home with a report card at the end of each term detailing exactly what you could and couldn’t do in each subject. And even if you graduated a long time ago and are currently working – you may feel like nothing’s really changed. The only thing is, it’s your employer assessing your performance – not your teacher!
Then there are TV ads and Instagram posts showing off models driving top-of-the-line cars, and wearing nothing but designer threads (or just nothing!).
What does this mean? It means that consciously and subconsciously it is very easy to absorb the message that you are not good enough. That what you have is not good enough. Don’t get me wrong it’s perfectly OK to dream of having more of something (or less!) – but these dreams need to be your own.
They need to be born in YOUR mind, not from someone else’s Instagram account. You should never feel less than because someone else has a bigger house than yours. In fact, you should never feel less than FULL STOP.
How do you gain some distance from ALL the opinions? And how do you realize your self-worth when the world seems so eager to bring you down at every turn?
Two words: affirmation letter.
What Exactly is a Letter of Affirmation?
An affirmation letter is essentially a detailed love letter to yourself.
The idea is to write down what you like about yourself, things that you are good at, and your personal goals and dreams – and then, of course, read it! It helps you to:
- Focus on all the things that are good about you
- Drown out other people’s negative voices (and your inner negative voice too!)
- Improve your self-esteem
- Build your self-confidence
- Encourage positive thinking
- Clearly define your goals and dreams
- Focus on your positive traits
- Look at the brighter side of life
Once you’ve written your letter, you should re-read it any time you are experiencing hardship, or feel overwhelmed. And to heighten the experience, you can record yourself reading your letter and play it back three or four times a week. In this way, you are hearing positive things about yourself AS WELL as reading them.
How to write a letter of affirmation – a 5-step guide.
- Start by addressing the letter to yourself. If your name is Mary, you should literally write ‘Dear Mary’.
- In the first paragraph list the things you like and admire about yourself. Maybe you have a quirky dress sense that you pride yourself on. Or maybe you helped a co-worker out with their workload the other day. Perhaps you gave a homeless person some money? Or you have a great sense of humor? It doesn’t matter what it is, if it makes you feel good about who you are as a person, write it down.
- Outline any current challenges in your life right now. Are you unhappy in your relationship? Do you wish to lose or gain weight? Or is the stress of job hunting getting you down? The key here is to state any challenges in a confident tone that implies you WILL overcome them.
- State any specific plans you have to overcome your current challenges. The point of this paragraph is to determine your immediate next steps. But if you haven’t made any specific plans yet, you can still list the traits and attributes that will help you overcome your obstacles.
- Outline your long-term dreams and goals. But instead of saying “My aim is to retire by the time I’m 40 and live in Mexico,” say it like there is no doubt in your mind that you WILL achieve it: “By the age of 41 I will be retired and living in a little hut in Tulum, Mexico.”
- Conclude your letter with what you want your lasting legacy to be. What do you want to be remembered for? Say it in such a way that it WILL happen: “I will be remembered for my infectious laugh, sense of humor, and kindness.”
Example of a Letter of Affirmation
If you don’t really like writing, or have writer’s block, the example below can help you. Though this is a specific example, certain phrases in the letter can be directly copied and pasted into yours, or you can simply use this letter as a loose guide to help you structure yours.
You know what I love about you? I love the way you really listen. You always give people space to tell you their story – and you never interrupt. Around you, people feel heard and cared for. The other day you helped a mum get her baby and pram onto the train before it took off – you are so incredibly kind and compassionate.
Mary, right now you’re experiencing some issues at work. You feel undervalued and overworked. You’ve tried talking to your superiors, but they have not been as accommodating as you would have liked – and this has created a negative dynamic at work.
You’re going through a difficult time and don’t know what to do. Will you stay in this workplace until your retirement, which is only eight years away? And try to focus on the very few good aspects of your job? Or should you invest significant time and energy into finding a new job for yourself?
It’s a difficult decision. But you need to know something: you are the most organized person EVER, you’re an extremely hard worker, you are a damn good person – and any employer would be lucky to have you. You ARE worthy of a better job – there’s no doubt about it. But if you were to stay in your current one, that would be OK too. Staying is NOT a sign of failure. In fact, whether you stay or go: it’s a sign of strength. Because neither of your two options is easy. Either way: you will survive. You will find happiness again, and you will find a way to enjoy these last 8 years of employment. Because that’s just who you are: a person who gets it done.
You know what the best part is? No matter if you stay in this job or find a new one, you WILL reach your goal of saving enough for your retirement and you WILL remain known as a strong, brave, and caring woman. So go easy on yourself with this decision – it may seem like it’s the be all and end all – but no matter what you choose, you will be OK. Because I believe in you.
Love you always,
The Take Home Message
It truly doesn’t matter how long or short the letter is, how well you’ve written it (you do not need to be a professional writer!), or how insignificant you think your problems are (spoiler alert: if something is making you unhappy, it’s not insignificant). It simply matters that you:
- Keep your tone positive and caring
- Be supremely loving towards yourself (it’s far too easy to indulge in self-hate – don’t)
- Keep it in the present tense so that your voice is current, and you feel loved at the moment you are reading it – no matter when that moment may arise.
The rest is up to you. This is probably the first time you’ll be telling yourself how amazing you are. Maybe it’s even the fist time you’ll ‘speak’ nicely to yourself – so have fun with it. You deserve this! And more importantly, you need it. Good luck.