I often have clients who enter into counseling after a troubling or traumatic experience. As we process the experience, we discuss what came first during the timeline of the negative experience – the negative thought or the negative feeling. For many people, the negative thought occurs first.
One negative thought may lead to another negative thought or reflection on a past negative experience. As my client dwells on the negative thought or thinks about past hurts, the person begins to experience negative feelings. This continued pattern can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially if repeated frequently.
Part of my job as a therapist is to assist a client in interrupting negative patterns or thoughts that are not serving them well. We may take a thought and process it to see if it is true. We may dissect it together to see if it is based on evidence or assumptions. We may reframe it to see a situation in a more positive light and not just focus on the negative aspect of a troubling situation.
The use of affirmations as a reframing tool can be powerful when trying to battle anxious thoughts or depressive symptoms. Affirmation is defined as a positive assertion and/or emotional support or encouragement. Daily affirmations are simple, positive statements declaring specific goals.
I will frequently encourage a client who is battling with negative thought patterns to start inserting daily positive affirmations into her day purposefully. Set a time and be intentional about saying something positive about herself or her situation. She might even pick one phrase and repeat it for the week or month.
I encourage you to try it for one week. Pick a phrase or a word that empowers or uplifts you. Then pick a time each day to say and repeat that word or phrase at least 3 times. Take notice of your feelings as you think and verbalize the statement aloud. Do you feel a weight lift? Do you feel hopeful? Do you feel neutralized? If you practice faith-based rituals or prayers you can incorporate them into, or as, your affirmations as well.
Not sure where to find positive phrases? Google and Pinterest are excellent resources. These search engines even have them labeled and sorted for you at the click of a button. Some of the pages I found were “Affirmations For Work,” “Affirmations That Will Change Your Life,” and “Affirmations For Women.”
Listed below are some of my favorite affirmations:
Affirmations may not cure all your negative thought patterns, but they are a step toward creating new, positive thought patterns. However, if you find that you continue to struggle with negative thoughts and you feel depressive or anxious feelings building up, please seek the help of a professional therapist.
Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years experience helping adults and children with overcoming trauma, managing life transitions, and developing coping skills. She is specialized in working with anxiety, depression, trauma, life transitions, and developing effective parenting skills with women and children with trauma concerns, anxiety and depression. Nicole provides a caring, non-judgmental mental health service for children (5-12), adolescents (13-18), and adults (18+) where she draws techniques from a variety of therapy models depending on the client’s needs. Nicole most often uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Client Centered treatment the most. She owns a private practice called Transformation Counseling and Consulting PLLC.
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