Are you confused about what the terms “empowerment” and “self-affirmation” mean? Over time, these important terms have become muddied, so let’s clear things up.
Many people believe that a person can “empower” another individual, but that’s not how it works. Empowerment starts and ends with you – it’s something you do for yourself. It’s your own inner power and authority to have control over the choices in your life.
Society plays a role in the experience of empowerment, particularly when structural barriers create inequities. For example, it’s extremely difficult for someone to feel empowered to see a medical provider if their culture believes that a mental health condition isn’t a medical illness. While we can’t empower others, we can certainly work toward removing the barriers that disenfranchise entire communities.
As caregivers, we can cultivate our empowerment by using self-affirmations. Self-affirmations are positive statements we make about ourselves to strengthen or build our self-worth. Humans are hard-wired to focus on the negative. By regularly practicing exercises like self-affirmation, we can rewire our brains to break free from negative self-talk.
On the surface, self-affirmations may feel campy or just plain silly. Rest assured, there are a number of theories and studies grounded in neuroscience to back up the practice (see citations below). There is no harm in trying to incorporate self-affirmations into your daily routine. So, what are you waiting for?
Tips for Getting Started
Find a time in your day when you already have a healthy habit. Maybe it’s in the morning when you brush your teeth, right before you shower, or when you get dressed for the day. Tying a new habit to something you already do consistently can help you follow through on your commitment to yourself.
Try saying one to three self-affirmations out loud. If possible, look at yourself in a mirror. You can draw self-affirmations from the list below or create some of your own. If some phrases feel too difficult to say, you can add “I’m learning to” or “I’m learning that…” before the statement.
10 Self-Affirmations for the Family Caregiver
- I deserve time for myself and can attend to my own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs without guilt or apology.
- I am strong and can overcome challenges that come my way.
- I believe I can find relief and recovery is possible.
- I continue to learn and take responsibility for my boundaries by noticing my limits and advocating for myself.
- I am an essential part of the support that helps my loved one to get well.
- I am grateful for the life I have.
- I have the courage and capacity to overcome challenges that come my way.
- I accept myself as I am.
- I deserve to be joyful, happy, and successful.
- I love and respect myself.
We believe you are a strong, caring, and competent caregiver. It’s time for you to empower yourself and find ways to positively affirm how amazing you are!
- Check out our Tips for Caregivers for more articles on becoming an effective caregiver.
- Curious how other caregivers support a loved one living with depression. Watch our Family Stories to gain more perspective.
Citations on Self-Affirmation
Sherman D.K., Cohen G.L. (2006). The psychology of self-defense: self-affirmation theory. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 183. [Google Scholar]
Sherman D.K., Cohen G.L., Nelson L.D., Nussbaum A.D., Bunyan D.P., Garcia J. (2009). Affirmed yet unaware: exploring the role of awareness in the process of self-affirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(5), 745. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Sherman D.K., Hartson K.A. (2011). Reconciling self-protection with self-improvement: Self-affirmation theory. In: Alicke M., Sedikides C., editors. The Handbook of Self-Enhancement and Self-Protection, pp. 123–51, New York: Guilford Press. [Google Scholar]