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Talk to Yourself: The Power of Positive Self-Statements in AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness

AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness (AIEW)—the broad interface of the cognitive abilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and human emotion—is evolving. And I have had the privilege of consulting with the AI community during this exciting period of development. A specific area where this integration shows tremendous potential is in developing positive self-statements—a technique that can help users foster their emotional well-being.

Positive self-statements, or affirmations, are phrases we say to ourselves to increase adaptive, healthy thinking and replace maladaptive, unhealthy thinking (Moore & Nash, 2019). These statements have demonstrated diverse benefits, including decreasing stress, increasing healthy behavior, enhancing immune function, reducing pain, improving cardiovascular health, and even improving academic performance (Psychology Today, 2020; Healthline, 2020). Hence, positive self-statements are a powerful tool to help us navigate challenges and change and improve our emotional wellness and the quality of our lives.

In the context of AI, positive self-statements can be integrated into various AI systems to provide immediate support for users. Following are examples of positive self-statements that AI leaders, scientists, engineers, architects, and developers can consider:

  • “Great job!”

  • “You’ve got this!”

  • “I love you, [your name].”

  • “You nailed it!”

  • “You’re doing better and better.”

  • “Stay focused.”

  • “You’re innovative.”

  • “You’re a problem-solver.”

  • “You gave that your all.”

  • “Be the way you would ideally like to be.”

Positive self-statements align with the basic tenets of evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapeutic (CBT) modalities. Users can learn to talk to themselves in a positive, reinforcing, compassionate manner. By doing so, they feel better about themselves and make healthier, more adaptive life choices.

AI leaders and the workforce should turn to experts in emotional wellness to understand the complexity of human emotions and how machines can interact with users' feelings. Furthermore, AI systems can be designed with ethical considerations, such as privacy and data protection, transparency and explainability, and avoiding bias and discrimination.

AIEW, the broad interface of the cognitive abilities of AI and human emotion, particularly through positive self-statements, offers a promising opportunity for enhancing emotional wellness. As we continue to develop and refine these technologies, we must do so with an understanding of their potential impacts and ethical implications.


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