Do Affirmations Make You Cringe?

Cringing can actually be a gateway to healing. Here’s how…

photo: Adeline Artistry

Years ago, I was working with a coach on some childhood issues and how they were impacting my self-esteem. My coach gave me a set of positive affirmations to practice saying to myself in the mirror.

Ever an achievement-oriented student, I did my homework and practiced the affirmations. And it felt…

  • Phony
  • Awful
  • Embarrassing
  • Pointless
  • Cringe-inducing

At our next session, I shared this with my coach and told her that affirmations were clearly not for me.

And then she said something that surprised me:

Coach: “It’s great that you felt all those things!”

Me: “Hunh?!”

Coach: “When you say the affirmation, you get the information.”

Me: “Whaaa…??”

What she meant was this: When we say an affirmation, and then notice how our mind and body react to it, we receive valuable information about how safe or dangerous our nervous system perceives the affirmation to be.

Self-love is something we are all born with. But obedience culture trains us to perceive self-love as dangerous in so many different ways. When we act in self-loving ways, we might hear messages like:

“Who do you think you are?”
“Turn the other cheek.”

“Just get over it.”
“You’re being selfish.”

Finding our way back to self-acceptance and self-love can be an awkward, messy, humbling and cringe-inducing journey.⁠

But from what I can tell so far… it is so worth it. You are so worth it. We are so worth it. Our world is so worth it.⁠

There are infinite ways to practice re-cultivating self-worth. One exercise that I learned from Louise Hay’s books is called “Mirror Work.”⁠

It’s simple — but it may feel absolutely uncomfortable at first. If you’re curious, you could try the following:⁠

1. Find a private, pleasant setting where nobody else is observing you.⁠

2. Gaze at yourself in a mirror. Maybe set a timer ⏱ for 1–3 minutes to give yourself a time container for the exercise.⁠

3. Say to yourself, out loud or in your head, “I love you.”⁠

4. Notice how you feel. Do you notice yourself softening with receptivity? Do you notice yourself cringing or contracting with tension? Do you notice conflicting messages popping into your head?

Whatever you notice, there’s no need to judge or change what you’re feeling. Approach your responses with gentle curiosity.⁠

5. Afterward, if you like, you can journal about what you noticed.⁠

6. Thank yourself for trying something that might have felt weird, unfamiliar, uncomfortable or strange.⁠

7. Try it again the next day and notice how the exercise feels similar or different.⁠

If you try this out, I’d love to hear how it goes! 💗💕⁠

With warmth, encouragement and enormous faith in you,

— Anna

P.S. For support with anxiety and chronic pain, take the FREE QUIZWhy the *bleep* am I still in pain?! to help you get some clarity.

And follow me on instagram for healing tips, inspiration and support!

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