Today, I would like to revisit a topic that I’ve written about before. It resurfaced recently.
Once upon a time I invited you into a night ritual that I had with my then 3-year-old daughter. She’s now 6. The ritual went like this:
I’d lay her on my chest while we sang songs and prayed.
Before I’d lay her down, I’d ask her:
“Are you beautiful? Are you brave? Are you fast? Are you funny? Are you strong? Are you smart? Are you a princess of Yahweh?”
With her head on my chest, she would sweetly and quietly respond “I am” after each one.
Then, I would say to her, “Did you know you are endowed with the seeds of greatness and fashioned after the image of Elohim? And if you trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding, if you know him in all your ways, he will make your paths straight and there is nothing you can’t do.”
We did this with both our kids. The whole reason for this practice was to teach them to speak kindly to themselves, which if we’re being honest, is a very hard thing to learn.
I don’t know about you, but I have to fight to speak kindly to myself and be grateful for the slow advances I’ve made instead of dwelling on my shortcomings.
Taking regular inventory of all the ways I’m blessed allows me to stay grateful and improves my mentality. But to help combat any lingering negative self talk, I’ve learned a strategy called an “I am card.”
To do an “I am card,” you start by writing down all of your positive attributes and then add some you hope to gain. Both what you are and what you plan to become are very important in this strategy. Recognizing what you’re good at gives you a foundation to build on, while identifying and owning the things you want to accomplish will make them less elusive and more obtainable.
Each thing you write down begins with the phrase, “I am.”
To make your card, get quiet with yourself and think of all the good things you are and some you want to become. Next, write them down and put “I am” in front of them.
The last part is uncomfortable: Get in front of your bathroom mirror, look yourself in the eyes and read your card to yourself out loud.
You’ll feel silly at first, but relax, no one’s watching. Remember, this is the place you sing your heart out and dance around naked — it’s OK to talk to yourself.
Do this every single day when you wake up and when you go to sleep. And before long, you’ll realize you are more than you thought you could be.
Ashley and I have led both our children in this as a nightly practice since they were born. But recently we realized we needed to alter the kids’ “I Am” statements because they have grown and needed to focus on different attributes.
For instance, we changed my sons list to ask, “Are you fast? Are you friend-worthy? Are you patient? Are you persistent? Are you handsome? Do you help others? Are you smart? Are you strong?”
Notice how this list has the same flow as what we told my daughter when she was 3. Seph is now nearly 7 years old. As he matures and grows, what he tells himself should evolve as well.
In the same way, as you grow, your “I Am” card will change. It should evolve as you mature emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s important to recognize that your self talk will change as you get better. A good saying that emphasizes this is, “In order for things to change, I have to change. And in order for things to get better, I have to get better.” So, as you get better and change, so should your “I Am” card.
And one last thing — if no one has ever told you, you are wonderfully and awesomely made. I believe you were truly endowed with the seeds of greatness and fashioned after the image of our creator. And if you trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, if you know him in all your ways, he will make your paths straight. And there is nothing you can’t do!
Make sure you tell yourself that!