By Dr. Marta Adelsman
November 16, 2012
I talk with a lot of people who want to increase their self-esteem. I have a lot of compassion for them because I have suffered from low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.
I used to berate myself constantly for something I said or did. I would call myself names, doing a great deal of inner violence to myself – until I began the “I am” exercise.
I deliberately created this assignment to counter the negativity in my thinking toward myself. I’ll share it with you in a moment.
First, let me say that this activity presupposes that human beings possess two facets: 1) a small, contracted self (often called the ego), and 2) a higher self that I refer to as Being. The ego feeds on the drama that it creates in your life. Being is your deeper wisdom, who you are really and authentically. Being not only feels peaceful and joyful, it is joy, peace, love, truth, etc.
The ego creates drama so that you will forget all about your authentic Being. It dupes you into identifying with this drama as it acts out on the stage of your mind, your emotions and your relationships. You believe you ARE your sadness, or your harsh and angry words, or your victimhood.
The “I am” exercise replaces ego identification with a new way of thinking. It affirms the truth about you. It helps you know that you are not the drama. In your authentic Being, you embody wonderful, positive characteristics. You simply state “I am” and follow it with a Being trait.
When I first began this exercise, I started affirming, “I am peaceful, I am joyful, I am wise, I am abundant,” etc. Then it dawned on me that I could change the adjectives into nouns. “I am joy, I am peace, I am wisdom, I am success, and I am abundance.” I added to my list of “I am’s” every day, whenever I thought of a new one. I repeated them aloud daily.
I invite you to take on this assignment. Create your own “I am” statements. Write them down and repeat them aloud each day for 90 days. Breathe in each phrase and allow it to settle inside you before you move to the next one.
When you begin, you may find the thought arising, “This is silly! It isn’t really true about me.” Be prepared for the ego to throw up roadblocks of resistant thoughts and feelings. Persist in the action anyway.
After I had practiced saying “I am’s” for a few weeks, I noticed a decrease in my self-flagellating thoughts. I began to feel less afraid to take bold action toward my goals. I felt better about myself – more positive. I stopped apologizing for my existence. I experienced a new degree of inner peace and joy. People close to me noticed that I seemed more relaxed.
I still repeat “I-am’s” when I begin to fall into old patterns of self-blame and dissatisfaction.
If you practice your version of “I am’s” consistently for 90 days, you will feel like a new person. You will see an authentic you emerging.
When you change your focus, you change your life.