How to build and affirm lasting Self-Esteem
Posted on 28/06/2020
Affirmations for raising your self-esteem with Ally Guppy, also known as Ally The Earthling.
My conscious journey into wellness began at university, when I realised my life had become 90% work and 10% play, and I was continuously running myself into the ground from doing far more than I really had the energy for. I very vividly remember the first immense feelings of release I got from setting a couple of hours aside each day for myself, whether I was having a bath, reading a book, going for a walk or meditating. It felt like the weight of the week so far had been lifted from my shoulders, it helped me to relax, and allowed me to regain my mental energy for the next day. But as soon as I stepped out of any wellness space, which was very much just physical for me in the form of the bath, my yoga mat or meditation cushion, I’d go straight back to being busy and juggling 50 things at once.
I really had to make an effort to pause and let the tension in my body go, without beating myself up for ‘not being productive enough’. I thought I’d found the perfect combination – working hard for the most part of the day, with full relaxation mode turned up in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends. In my mind, having my foot flat on the gas pedal during the day and slamming the breaks on in the evenings balanced each other out, and it seemed to be a sustainable way of living. I thought that was what it meant to have a work-life balance.
After a few months, my self-esteem had really started to dip and was nearing a new low for a variety of reasons. I dialled up the relaxation time to help and couldn’t understand why my self-esteem wasn’t improving. I was reading all of the wellness books under the sun and was doing really well on paper, achieving the grades I’d aimed for and somehow managing to fit in a social life too. My life looked great from the outside, but the meltdowns increased in all of number, length and intensity. I felt like I was swinging on an emotional pendulum. If you’d told me that half a year later I’d be writing a book about cultivating positivity and balance in everyday life, I probably would have laughed at you.
I was nearing the end of my degree when I first came across affirmations. They’re simple, short phrases that are written in the present tense, with the aim of manifesting whatever they say. For example, if experiences from the past are holding you back, you might want to read the affirmation “I am at peace with my past” to break through that barrier – it doesn’t matter whether that statement is genuinely true for you or not, but it’s important to encompass the feeling of it being true when you read it. Whenever I came across an affirmation, be it in a book or from a wellness account on Instagram, I’d read it three times or until it sunk in for me and felt like it had shifted something internally. I’d frequently come across different affirmations and they always lifted my mood in that moment. I wrote some of my favourites down. It was always a nice break from my working day, it only took a few minutes and it reminded me to slow down and accept whatever was going on in that moment.
When I really started to think about affirmations, I began to notice what else I was affirming to myself on a daily basis and had been for a number of years (if not the majority of my life). As it turns out, it was all pretty negative. When I was stressed, I’d affirm “I don’t have time”, “I can’t do this”, “I’m going to fail” - without even being aware. As you can imagine, this is what was worsening my self-esteem. These affirmations were at the root of every negative spiral and every burnout.
From that moment on I was hyper aware of my negative self-talk, and every visible surface in my room at uni became increasingly covered with bright neon post-it notes with positive affirmations written on them with a thick black Sharpie pen. I sometimes found it hard to remember what to do in the midst of an emotional crisis, so having something right in front of my face really kept me afloat. Looking back now it might have been *a little* OTT with the sheer number of post-its… but throughout the process of writing my dissertation I did learn that the occasional cry needed to happen when the emotions were coming up, and that I could use positive affirmations alongside to guide me towards acceptance rather than negative self-talk. Meltdowns didn’t have to result in being stuck in a rut for days on end, they could in fact lift me up and through with radical self-acceptance and non-judgement.
I began sharing these bright pink, yellow and green reminders on Instagram, and people started asking me where I got the phrases from. As the majority were ones I made up myself, I decided to share them by turning the contents of my neon-coated bedroom into a book of 555 affirmations for emotions, called You Are In Control Of Your Own Universe. Each page is dedicated to helping with a particular negative emotion, like shame, anxiety, worthlessness, fear and more. It’s been truly beautiful to see something that I initially put together for myself help so many people, giving them something quick to turn to when they’re in an emotional emergency as well as something to use in daily routine. Others have said they use it as a tool to help them identify how they’re feeling simply by looking through the contents page, which is incredible. The way you speak to yourself really does change your outlook on life.
Today I still value taking the time to relax every day, and yoga, meditation and more are a core part of my routine. The difference is in the lack of extreme emotional high to extreme emotional low. Reading positive affirmations every single day no matter how I’m feeling is what has changed my internal dialogue, and in turn kept my self-esteem steady. The habit of reading and writing positive affirmations is what keeps me grounded when I’m off the mat.
Out of my approximately 500-600 post-it notes, there were 10 that I kept stuck to the edge of the bookshelf in front of my desk. They were the affirmations I saw every time I looked up while I was working, and they’re the ones I’d like to share with you today. I truly believe that I only felt the long-term benefits due to seeing them every single day, so I recommend you write them down and stick them by your mirror, on your desk, in your purse/wallet, or wherever else you’re likely to see them frequently. They’ll become your internal beliefs before you’re even aware of it.
I hope these affirmations support you along your journey of personal growth. Even if you fall out of the habit of using them, or it takes you a while to get into that habit in the first place, their abundance is always available to you. You just have to have the courage to grab it with both hands and know wholeheartedly that you deserve it.
Ally Guppy, also known as Ally The Earthling, is a UK-based holistic wellness blogger who talks about self-love and spirituality, sharing tools to help with working through trauma and navigating the self-growth journey.
“I opened it by chance on page 15, ‘Anxious’. It was exactly what I needed to hear today and brought a tear to my eye.”
“My friend Kim brought me this book and I have just read it for the second time. It is such a good tool.”
“I just received your book! I’m so excited to start checking it every day! I can definitely FEEL the love you’ve invested in it.”
“You’ll come back to this book again and again for help and reinforcement.”
“I’ll cherish it forever, your affirmations are absolutely spot on and beautiful!”