I’m sitting in the driver’s seat on a typical weekday morning, getting ready to commute a half hour in to work.

I turn the car on, hit the seat-warmer button, and take a sip of coffee.

I reach into my enormous, oversized shoulder bag perched on the passenger seat next to me like a loyal dog, and extract a small zipper purse.

I remove my hand-held Sony recorder. It takes two AAA batteries, and is a scratched-up silver color. I switch it on, and nest it in the other cup holder, taking a deep breath and putting the car in reverse.

I shift the car into drive and head down the road.

“Good morning, my beautiful Kristen. I love you so much,” I hear my voice say on the recorder.

“Good morning, my beautiful Kristen, I love you so much,” I say, looking back at myself in the rearview mirror with a smile. I’m wearing bright orange sunglasses. Sometimes I like to take them off to look into my eyes.

(credit: Kristen v.H. Middleton)

“You are a shining, radiant star / Filled with brilliant light and a strong center and core,” my voice on the recorder continues. I repeat it back. This is a morning greeting that I wrote to myself about a year ago.

My smile widens.

Over the past year, I’ve taken hours and days to write down and record different inspiring prayers, mantras, and blessings. Some of the prayers I’ve recorded have been specific requests to my higher power to help me change negative behaviors or habits.

Other recordings I’ve made are famous quotes, Christian prayers, and excerpts about love and healing from various religious texts.

Hearing my voice was a little awkward at first, but like anything when you first try it, it takes some getting used to. Now I love it. Hearing my voice has been an important aspect of building my self-esteem — I hear my own voice and feel a sense of loving-kindness when it speaks to me through the recorder.

These exercises have helped me to picture myself as a friend that I love and cherish deeply.

(credit: Pixabay)

I leave space between each line I record, the equivalent of several deep breathes or 5–15 seconds. As the device records silence, I know I’ll have time in the future to echo back what I just heard.

Some days, I take out my recorder and turn it on when I’m at home folding laundry or doing dishes. Occasionally, I’ll take it to a quiet spot in my home and sit meditatively while playing it and speaking these words of strength out loud to an empty room.

One time, I was recording a prayer in my living room, very deep into it and feeling quite serious, when my husband walked in unexpectedly and we both burst out laughing. It all got recorded. I ended up saving it, and anytime I listen back to that incident it makes me laugh hysterically all over again!

I use this tool when I’m feeling great, as well as on those days when I notice I’m feeling insecure or falling into the trap of negative thinking. The mantra below comes from a text image I found online that embodies strength:

“My mind, body, and spirit are strong /

I take time each day to rejuvenate and recharge /

I draw from a deep well of peace and calm /

I breathe in strength and release my fears /

I go after my heart’s deep desires.”

(credit: QuotesPictures.com)

My recorder has made a significant, positive impact in my life. Using this recorder has allowed me to take my personal growth to a new level. I have more confidence every day because of the exercises I do.

I think it’s important to note that positive self talk has been just as important in my life as taking time to confront my problems and weaknesses, like I do in therapy sessions.

As I champion this tool, I’m not suggesting that we avoid talk therapy or sitting with uncomfortable feelings. Rather, this is a complimentary exercise that facilitates healing because it promotes self-love, compassion, and high self-esteem, all of which contribute to healthier decision-making overall.

One of my favorite passages comes from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young:

Walk peacefully with me through this day /

You are wondering how you will cope with all that is expected of you /

You must traverse this day like any other: one step at a time.”

(credit: DaySpring)

Another is a segment I read off of one of Margaret Ann Lembo’s “Angel Cards” which I bought at an airport.

“Angel of Well-Being:

I consistently maintain a balanced and joyful outlook on life /

I am so grateful for an inner sense of well being /

I easily center my attention on the people, places, and things that bring me happiness.”

(credit: Margaret Ann Lembo)

Just like going to the gym strengthens the muscles in my body, speaking words of affirmation to myself — out loud — and on a regular basis, has undoubtedly strengthened the muscle of positive self talk. I have higher self-esteem. I find it easier to encourage myself and the people around me. I have less fear about going after my dreams.

What an awesome tool this has become, helping me to cultivate a happier lifestyle. I hope you try it out! Let me know if you do.

Stay up-to-date with Kristen. Follow her on Twitter.

Originally published at medium.com