I just wrote the following as a comment to a friend asking for adjectives/attributes that describe him as part of a process he is going through. I’m hoping he takes it in the manner in which it was intended but regardless, I stand behind what I wrote. I believe those kinds of “I am awesome, terrific, wonderful, kind, happy, diligent…” affirmations only work when we truly believe them about ourselves. Having other people tell us what they think is a nice validation, but I’m not sure it truly helps the process other than to give us an external salve for what is truly an internal issue. In other words, for me, it would be nice to hear that people think I’m terrific/awesome/amazing, etc., but it would not help me internalize it.
I don’t believe in the, “well other people think I’m great, therefore I must be great” paradigm. I don’t think that paradigm works in the long run. I do believe in affirmations. I believe us telling ourselves that we rock really can and does help us change our perceptions of ourselves. But, I don’t believe that other people’s opinions ultimately do that. They might help make us feel better/good in the short term, but they are still external and don’t get at the root of the issue which is inside ourselves (and in my opinion is about our lack of sense of self, self-acceptance, self-love, and feeling deserving of the good stuff). We have to accept how amazing we are internally. Everything else is ultimately window-dressing and doesn’t help change our innermost perceptions of ourselves. That’s the trouble with external validation. If you keep relying on it, you will keep relying on it, if you see what I mean. You won’t ever really get to that point of standing on your own in your belief about how wonderful you are. You will keep waiting for someone else to tell you and if that someone isn’t there or doesn’t give it to you, it can be devastating.
“I’m going to give you a serious, not snarky, answer, but I’m not going to give you adjectives. You know how incredible I think you are. The thing is, imo, the exercise that your coach gave is one in you believing it. And thinking about the adjectives that will describe you, giving yourself permission to believe them, and then embrace them, and then shout them from the rooftops of your personal awesomeness has to come from within. So, I encourage you to read the great answers people are writing but then to let go of all of those. Take some time and pick the best ones you can think of and then let them sink in and become part of your view of yourself. While other people’s descriptions can help here, it’s really an internal process of you accepting those attributes being part of you. No external source will truly help you do that. It’s an internal process, and it’s one I know you will not only handle but you will also master. Sending you love.”