Q: A few years ago I had a problem with depression. I was depressed for several years. I hit bottom when I attempted suicide…it was a pathetic attempt but a serious one. After that I finally decided I didn’t want to live that way anymore.

I remembered a technique for changing ones behavior that I had learned in high school. It is called affirmations. I don’t know if it’s something you know of. They were sentences that said the behavior I wanted in a positive way, no negative words. I wrote myself a list of them. Things like “I love the person I am.” or “I know so many people who care very deeply for me.” and so on.

Anyways, I put a lot of thought into what feelings were making me depressed and wrote sentences for the way I wanted to think and react to things. Every time I started to react in the way that made me depressed I would take out my list and read it aloud to myself. It worked wonders. I was able to overcome my depression by like reprogramming my brain to think the things I wanted it to and by forgetting the negative thoughts that I dwelled on so much.

I don’t know if this is at all helpful but I do know that it is what helped to make me the healthy confident person I have become. I just thought I would share so that I might be able to help someone else.

A: I agree with your opinions and I marvel at the wonderful healing you have done.

I have seen people who have helped themselves with affirmations, but I have also seen people who have hurt themselves with affirmations. I think affirmations help only when:

1) The person has good self-knowledge before they make them.

2) They start with affirmations that they can agree with rather easily, without major internal struggle.

3) They give themselves a lot of time to thoroughly believe them.

4) And they are kind to themselves along the way, especially on the bad days when the affirmations just don’t seem to fit.

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