Self-Affirmation Doesn't Mean Talking Yourself up in a Mirror

Social Psychologist
Over a year ago

Self-affirmation techniques are the butt of many jokes, including a famous Saturday Night Live sketch with Al Franken. But value affirmation is something different, says Harvard's Amy Cuddy. The last thing you want to do if you're looking for more self-assurance and confidence is lie to yourself (the conceit of Franken's sketch). Instead, says Cuddy, focus on your personal values: what they are, what makes them immutable, and why they're important to you.

As a follow up exercise, Cuddy suggests writing about a time when you express these values. The endpoint of self-affirmation through your values is an increase in power — not power over other people, but internal power that represents a form of self-mastery. Not only is this an effective way to make individuals more confident and more effective, it makes people more interesting in general.

Cuddy's book is Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.