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Self-Worth (Part 2 of 3): The Power of “I Am” - by Tad Lusk, LPC

Self-Worth (Part 2 of 3): The Power of “I Am” - by Tad Lusk, LPC

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”

Fred Rogers

I was lucky to grow up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Looking directly at you through the TV, in his gentle, calming, and honest manner, Fred Rogers set a consistent example of unconditional love and acceptance and taught kids to love themselves.

But I really believe his message is just as important for adults, and as timeless and relevant as ever.

We talked about breaking old, negative habits of criticizing ourselves in Part 1, and the next step is developing new, healthy thoughts and beliefs. These will help you defeat the bully, feel better, and build confidence and self-worth. 

Repetition is key. Our brains learn and grow new connections and neural pathways through repetition. In fact, the term “neuroplasticity” refers to the brain’s ability to continue changing and growing throughout the lifespan.

One of the main ways this type of learning occurs is through doing something over and over, consistently over time. These patterns, including positive and negative thinking, become automatic–part of your “default mode.”

Saying, repeating, internalizing, feeling, and eventually believing “affirmations” (positive, encouraging statements) is one of the best ways to take back your mindset from the bully.

By consistently practicing affirmations, you can literally change your inner dialogue for the better, and develop new beliefs that build you up and help you succeed rather than tear you down.

Here’s another way of understanding it:

  • What you think directly affects how you feel.
  • How you feel influences how you act.
  • The way you act reinforces whatever you believe to be true.
  • Your beliefs then feed back into your thoughts and the cycle repeats and reinforces itself.

This is true of negative and positive cycles. If the inner bully has been giving you negative messages about yourself for years, those messages can solidify into negative beliefs about your self-worth.

So if low self-worth has been a struggle for you, or even if you feel your self-worth could be healthier & stronger, you have to reprogram your thoughts & beliefs to more positive and helpful ones.

The Fred Rogers quote above is a great example of an affirmation. It’s a statement directly to you that affirms your worth, goodness, and uniqueness.

You can come up with your own affirmations that have meaning to you–beliefs that you would like to have.

And one of the best parts is it’s totally up to you. You get to choose what you want to believe about yourself.

Similar to what we explored in Part 1, choosing how you think and the messages you give yourself empowers you to change your experience, even when you’re faced with outside stressors that you can’t control.

One of my favorite resources to give clients who are struggling with feeling disempowered is called “My Personal Bill of Rights.” It’s a series of statements–affirmations, really–that are encouraging reminders of all that you do have control over; statements such as:

“I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.”

“I have the right to my own needs for personal time and space.”

“I have the right to determine my own priorities.”

Statements like these contribute to a healthy and genuine sense of self-worth.

Here are some more examples of affirmations that can help you reduce stress & striving and value yourself.

“I am proud of myself.”

“I do enough and I am enough.” 

“There is no such thing as perfect, and I don’t need to be perfect either.”

“I love and respect myself completely, just the way I am.”

“This too, will pass.”

“Things are going to be just fine.”

These are just a few examples, but I encourage you to come up with your own affirmations that have meaning to you and work for you too.

You can say them silently to yourself in your head, or out loud, it’s up to you. Repeat them many times daily. Feel them.

Remember, repetition is key.

The most effective affirmations are usually:

  • Simple
  • In the present tense (eg. “I AM,” not “I will be” or “I wish”)
  • Positive (ie. focused on what you want. For example rather than saying “I am no longer struggling,” you would say “I am at ease and empowered.”)

If you’re not used to saying affirmations, it can feel a bit odd, even uncomfortable at first. But stick with it. The longer you make these affirmations part of your reality, the more they will become your reality.

Also, keep in mind that affirmations don’t have to be cheesy, over-the-top, or insanely positive either. In actuality, some of the most effective affirmations are ones that emphasize a balanced perspective and self-acceptance.

So if you’re someone who feels a lot of inner resistance to affirmations, here’s another technique: come up with “realistic,” yet encouraging statements.

These can still be empowering and positive, but might feel better to those who have a hard time with how affirmations sound.

Here are a few examples of balanced, encouraging, yet realistic statements:

“I’m not always going to be 100% and that’s okay.”

“I may not be where I want to be yet, but I’m working toward my goals and I’m proud of that.”

“Even though there’s a lot I still want to accomplish, I’ve already achieved quite a lot too.”

Below I give several tips on how to use affirmations most effectively.

Think About It:

  • If you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed, overworked, like a “failure” etc., what would you say to someone you care about if they were dealing with the same feelings?
  • Think of someone who cares about you: if they knew you were struggling, what would they say to encourage you?

Try It :

  • Take your answers from the above questions, and turn them toward yourself to give yourself a positive affirmation. Tell yourself the encouraging words throughout your day.
  • Pick one of the positive statements from this article that resonates with you. Memorize it, and remind yourself of it daily, especially during difficult or stressful times.
  • Write down your favorite affirmations and keep them with you at all times. Print them out and put them in places where you’ll see them often (refrigerator, nightstand, car, etc.).
  • Don’t give up. Affirmations are one of the best ways to start reclaiming your self-worth. So keep it up and after a while you will start to feel the effects.

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