The 6 Best Things to Say to Yourself in the Mirror, According to Mental Health Pros

updated Oct 19, 2020
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We’ve all been there. You wake up in the morning, dreading the day ahead, totally drained of energy and confidence. Don’t worry: No matter how discouraged you feel, there’s a way to flip the script: How about a pep talk?

Wherever it is you’re going—and whatever you may be facing in the year that is 2020—affirming yourself in the mirror can set you up mentally for a positive day, and increase your motivation and overall sense of well-being. Think of your morning affirmations as a form of self-care which is as crucial now as it has ever been. Not only does talking to yourself positively rev you up for what’s ahead, but it’s a powerful reminder to show yourself kindness.

“It’s so important to talk directly to you, yourself, as you would to another person. This contributes to a more positive mood and mindset for the day because it is a way of practicing self-compassion, treating yourself with kindness and love the way you treat others,” says New York City-based psychologist Jaclyn Lopez Witmer.

Ready to practice some self love? Here are a few suggestions, fielded by mental health experts:

“I am lovable.”

“So many of our insecurities and negative self-talk is rooted in the fear that we are unworthy of being delighted in by another—we may believe that we are too much or are difficult to love,” says Seattle-based psychologist Carly Claney. “By proclaiming ‘I am lovable,’ you can begin to instill the narrative that you are in fact worthy of another’s respect, affection, and effort.”

“I’m a f***ing bada**.”

Go ahead—make yourself blush. There’s scientific evidence that swearing uniquely affects the brain, says Claney. “Using strong language to declare your strength and excellence can be a powerful way to promote courage in your upcoming daily interactions. Swearing can awaken both sides of your brain (language and emotion) and be an empowering way of connecting with yourself, especially if you don’t typically use this language,” she says.

“I’m so proud of you.”

What do you need to hear from other people to feel confident and assured? Lopez Witmer suggests taking these emotional needs and reframing them as self-affirmations. “When I talk with clients about helpful morning affirmations, we usually focus on what they need to hear most from important others. Then we change this into language coming from them, directed towards themselves,” she says. “For instance, someone who is worried about how they’re doing at work might need to hear: ‘You’re a badass and you’re doing amazing work. I can see you putting in the time and effort, and I’m so proud of you.’”

“I get to go to work and kill it today.”

A “have to” mindset can drain our mental energy because it frames responsibilities as obligations. Mental performance consultant Anna Hennings recommends re-framing responsibilities you might dread into “I get to” to focus on opportunity and privilege instead. A more positive attitude, she says, can do wonders in increasing productivity and performance. Negativity has the opposite effect.

“Negative, unproductive self-talk can lower your overall motivation, decrease your confidence, affect your attitude, and ultimately, affect how you show up in life and/or perform whatever task is at hand,” she says.

“I’m so excited for today.”

Have you ever noticed how the sensations of anxiety and excitement feel similar? By simply re-framing your nervousness into giddiness, you can trick your mind and body into a more successful day. Therapist Corrin Voeller says smiling at yourself in the mirror might make the affirmation more convincing—and set the tone for a more joyful day. “Dove did a survey and found that 1 in 3 women don’t smile at themselves when they look in the mirror, and I’d be willing to bet that even more women frown at themselves in the mirror,” she says. “What happens when you do that is your brain’s neurons fire automatically, so the more you frown at yourself in the mirror, the more you will continue to do it automatically because the pathways in your brain are formed that you.”

“I choose to feel good.”

If things are going poorly, it makes sense that we would we feel poorly. Fortunately, we’re not powerless to our circumstances. Perspective can play a huge role in shaping how we feel, even when things suck. Christine Scott-Hudson, a Santa Barbara-based therapist, recommends crafting “I” statements that remind you of the emotional choices you get to make, whether “I choose to be at peace today,” or “Happiness is a choice I make.” “Practicing daily affirmation primes your subconscious mind to look for the good,” she says.