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Self affirmation is the ability to define ourselves without the context or influence of others. It is our ability to say and be who we are, completely apart from labels or identities that may have been assigned to us by others or the community-at-large. As importantly, self affirmation is an important skill when experiencing challenges to the concept of ourselves, such as criticism of our behaviors, thoughts, opinions or actions. It is the ability to reaffirm the core aspects that we value about ourselves, even when we change our behaviors or beliefs in response to new situations, or new understanding. Self affirmation often appears as thoughts, such as: I am kind, I am dedicated, I am worthy of dignity and respect, I am a human being, I am deserving of having my basic needs met. 


Signs of Optimal Health & Wellness

Indicators of thriving include:

  • Positive sense of self
  • Ability to be self assured
  • Ability to know, understand and live by our own beliefs, values and boundaries
  • Thoughts of self result in positive feelings
  • Identity and actions are based on choice, rather than habit or heritage

Warning Signs

Warnings signs include: 

  • Continuous reliance on others for self assurance
  • Permanent “group” or heritage identity as a basis for sense of self
  • Loose boundaries
  • Feeling bad about who you are
  • Feeling personally threatened by criticisms of behaviors or actions
  • Prolonged self-doubt


Questioning and defining who we are for ourselves is an important part of achieving and maintaining a healthy sense of self. When confronted with negative criticisms of ourselves (from ourselves or others), this is an important time for reflection on our sense of self. Ask questions: Is this true? Does this define me? Is this something I wish to change? 




  • Write down how you would define yourself, free from labels of others or group identities
  • Explore things you really like about yourself
  • Consider things you might like to change and how you would go about that in a healthy way


If you are having trouble defining yourself, or are experiencing a prolonged lack of self confidence, it may be time to seek intervention. 




If you have active thoughts or intentions of harming yourself or others: 

  • Dial 911; or
  • Go the nearest hospital emergency room