Insecurity is a cruel and vicious thing, and it can be difficult to avoid. When you're insecure, it's hard to feel confident and to accomplish the things you're capable of. It's also harder to see yourself as everyone else sees you.   

Unfortunately, confidence is not something that comes naturally to most people—it’s something you have to work towards. You probably won't wake up every morning completely secure in yourself and your abilities, which is why it's so important to find ways to strengthen that confidence anyway.

Social media further complicates this confidence challenge. Social media ensures that you're constantly bombarded with the best version of other people—physically, thanks to editing apps, but also emotionally. People often only share their best moments and best photos with the world, making it difficult to remember that everyone else is not perfect. This, too, can take a toll on self–esteem. 

I've long had an interest in these strange and complicated dynamics surrounding confidence, so I was motivated to learn more. My editor suggested I try an affirmation challenge, where I look in the mirror and say a positive affirmation every day.

This seemed a bit strange to me, but there's a decent amount of research backing these sorts of affirmation practices. Affirmations can actually improve work performance. They help to maintain self–integrity and have measurable effects on our brains—all of which are good for improving confidence.  

With this in mind, I began with a quick Google search for affirmations. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot out there, covering all sorts of topics. I would recommend refining your search. Ask yourself: What are you trying to achieve? What do you want to improve? 

Ultimately, I decided that I was most interested in body confidence, career motivation, and life satisfaction, so I picked affirmations that were relevant to those topics. Here are a few of my favorites:

“I am grateful for my body. I want to treat it with love and respect.” 

“I understand that everything in my outer life originates from within myself.”

“I am finding my passion and purpose and living it every day with enthusiasm.”

“We should all start to live before we get too old.” – Marilyn Monroe

“Fear is stupid. So are regrets.” – Marilyn Monroe

“I trust my intuition and I always make wise decisions.”

After searching and finding some affirmations that I resonated with, I began my task. I looked in the mirror every morning and said one of these statements aloud. It felt kind of strange talking to my own reflection, but there was something about saying it in the mirror that made it feel real. I could see my reflection looking right back at me as I recited the affirmation. It was really me saying it. This actually helped me to internalize the affirmations—I knew that I meant it because I could see myself say it.

I've tried affirmations before, but they never quite stuck with me the same way. What I discovered is that simply reading the affirmations—but not verbalizing them to my reflection—made me feel good for a short period of time, but I tended to forget about it as the day went on. However, when I said one in front of the mirror, I felt it and believed it. I internalized the message and carried it with me. The affirmation itself would even pop back into my head sporadically throughout the day. 

While doing this experiment, I noticed that I felt more confident in myself as I went through my day. Additionally, I felt more grounded and less stressed. When I noticed my stress rise from having a hectic day, I was reminded of the quote to start living.

Ultimately, I found this affirmation challenge to be immensely helpful, and I would recommend giving it a try if you struggle with your self–esteem too. Research affirmations in areas you are most interested in improving your thought patterns on, or write your own if you have specific reminders you need. Either way, the act of saying something positive about something you struggle with is an important tool for cultivating confidence, and I hope you'll try it out for yourself.