Who Are You Wednesday: I Am...(Insert Positive Word Here)

Words hold great power. They have been created to have creative influence over our lives. Two simple words in particular will determine what type of life you have, who you are, what you will be and will either bring success or defeat in your life. They are “I am.”

When I was trapped in the eating disorder and absorbed in negative thinking, my “I ams” were destructive and put me down. The “I ams” were created by the anorexia. They were all what it saw, what it wanted, what it believed. Giving it that power contributed to the loss of my identity as Jenna. People would ask me to state positive things about myself, and honestly, I could not think of one. The anorexia prohibited it. A positive “I am” would have weakened the eating disorder. The negative ones kept it alive and growing and gave it a reason to stick around. 

My “I ams” with anorexia:

I am fat, ugly, worthless, unlovable, a failure, disgusting, a disgrace, a sorry excuse for a sister and friend and daughter, a liar, a cheater, a disappointment, incapable of recovery, never going to be happy, never going to fulfill my dreams, never going to succeed, a number, a size…I think you all get the picture. Conjure up every critique and put down you can think of, and I am sure I have told it to myself. A lifetime of low self esteem and insecurities will result in that.

When I was breaking free and flying in recovery, my “I ams” turned to ones of hope, beauty, and positivity. My “I ams” went from being all the anorexia said I was to all that God says I am and that I knew I could be way in the back of my mind buried under doubt and judgment. By seeing myself and my life through His eyes, my perception changed.

My “I ams” in recovery:

I am beautiful (this one shocked me the first time it appeared in my mind), happy, blessed, loved, accepted, confident, proud, capable of fulfilling my dreams, going to succeed, an inspiration, a hope maker, a light in the darkness, a spirit of beauty, compassionate, a loving sister and friend and daughter, a traveler, a fighter, a survivor. This is the list I would gladly love to write for eternity but I will spare all my readers from boredom. I stated enough for you all to see how my change in words to those of positivity were impacted by my choices in life and taking back ownership of myself and my thoughts.

Every time I look in the mirror or see a photo of myself, this phrase “I am” becomes such an important statement. It would be easy to critique and define myself negatively. It is instinct to want to start the negative “I ams” in my mind. My mind seems to go on auto pilot in regards to looking at myself. The sound of self hate was once so familiar. It was once very hard at times to notice when it was there. It was as if I became immune to it. I was deaf to the critiques. They were all so natural. Now, even if I don’t believe them all the way anymore or am seeing myself in a different light, my brain still jumps to the negative thoughts. That is what it has been trained to do, and starts to. But then I stop. I make it a conscious effort to change my thoughts. I only allow in the positive "I ams." I have to actively think, filtering my thoughts, making sure to catch myself if the anorexia and voice of low self esteem start talking.

Being in recovery and having a growing love for myself has helped to make the voice more identifiable. The shame is more easily recognizable. The hate is more uncomfortable to feel. The disgust for myself is more unsettling. I don’t want those feelings there anymore. The feelings of love and pride and joy has far outweighed those and become a new normal. Having felt the good and knowing what their presence is like within me again, I find I have very little desire to go back to the old. I feel sad I was living with that mindset for so long. It hurts to think of the pain I was put through. But now, I take such pride in myself for no longer being in that place and hold so much future for my life in regards to where I will go from here.

I look at my myself today and see hope. I see a fighter. I see a strong, independent, proud, beautiful lady. I see a butterfly that survived being trapped in a cocoon and is now flying free. I see an inspiration. I see someone with a bright future, a life full of beautiful tomorrows. I see all that I AM. There is no focus on what I once was. I was content with what I currently am and thinking ahead already to what I will one day say that I am. If I say now all that I wish to be and believe it with all my heart, it will come to be. Speaking and writing it out helps make it into reality. You have the power to put out in the world what you want. If you can see it and acknowledge it, the more potential is has to come to life. You can better envision it for yourself. For me personally, I know I can be all I want and do all I want in life. There are no limits. Imagining myself with that identity and life sets me up to succeed.

I have learned to let God and myself be the only finishers to the sentence beginning with “I am”. I spent far too long letting other people and forces complete that phrase for me. I refuse to allow that anymore. The words following “I am” will only flow from my mouth after being placed in my mind by God.

When you change your “I ams,” your life will change for the better. Starting right now, make all your “I ams” be that of hope and beauty. Make a list of them all-current and the ones you wish to say one day. If you are finding yourself unable to find any, do not get discouraged. It just means there is more of you needing to be discovered. See it as a challenge. See it as something beautiful to achieve, a chance to define yourself in a new way, an opportunity to become all you were designed to be. If you find your “I ams” that you are writing down are self defeating, make it your mission to turn them around. Next to each one, write the opposite of the statement and start reciting those to yourself over and over until they are engrained in your brain as truth and until you look in the mirror and see them reflecting back at you. Say them until they become reality. Tell them to me and every day I will recite them to you. You have many seeds of greatness, beauty, and potential inside of you waiting to spring forth. Nourish them with love and acceptance and watch them grow out of you for the entire world to see and experience.

Love, light, and bravery, J.L.