You Are What You Believe Yourself to Be!
Today's guest post is written by Keirsten Wanamaker, author of The Superstar in You!, a book of positive affirmations for children of color.
Have you ever heard the quote “You are what you believe yourself to be” by Paulo Coelho? This is so true. What we say about ourselves, to ourselves matters! We can shape our self-identity by saying negative or positive things about ourselves. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the definition of self-affirmation is “the act of affirming one's own worthiness and value as an individual for beneficial effect (such as increasing one's confidence or raising self-esteem).”
I started saying positive affirmations as an adult. I have found them to be very beneficial, and helpful in building confidence. But imagine how valuable they could be if children started using them. I believe that a child’s self-esteem is shaped by what they experience in their home and the environment in which they live. Not all children grow up identically. Many factors play a part in this. The relationships they have with family and friends, and outside sources such as books and media they consume, can help shape their character and view of self. It is crucial for children to see, hear and receive positive, affirming messages.
When one of my sons was in middle school, he made a simple mistake and started saying negative things about himself, such as, “I’m so dumb.” That upset me and I felt that I needed to do something. I put up “I am” affirming statements on pieces of paper on his bunk bed. For example, “I am special,” “I am smart,” “I am strong,” “I can do anything!”
What we say after “I am” can either be helpful or harmful, particularly for children. A positive word after “I am” can help a child realize their self-worth. My hope was that, by my son and his brother seeing those statements in front of them upon waking and going to sleep, they would change any negative thoughts and words they were saying to themselves into positive, affirming words.
Positive affirmations provide emotional support and encouragement. According to an article on mindtools.com, “Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes.” The self-talk we engage in on a regular basis can either positively or negatively effect how we see ourselves.
As children and adults we’ve heard people call us names, assume things about us and project their own lack of self-confidence on us. Sometimes when I’m out in public, it pains me when I experience the hurtful and detrimental way some people speak to their children. I want to ask the parent or guardian, “Do you understand how damaging the words you are saying can be to that child in the future?”
When we do not hear positive words and statements from others and do not experience people we are around daily saying positive things, it is imperative that we do it for ourselves. A person speaks positive words about themselves knows who they are and no one else can tell them otherwise. No matter what anyone says about you, especially if it is negative, it will not stick with you once you are sure of who you are.
We all have the ability to be our own cheerleader, no matter how anyone else feels or speaks about us. Positive affirmations are an incredible tool we can use on a daily basis to motivate and raise our self-esteem. Sharing and teaching children to say positive affirmations can help shape and mold them into confident people, who make this world a better place.
About the Author:
Keirsten Wanamaker has worked in the children’s television and photography industry for over 20 years. She earned her BA in Mass Media Communications from Hampton University in Virginia. She is passionate about health and wellness, inspiring children and women to be their best selves and loves being creative. She is a wife and mother of two teenage boys and lives in Westchester County, NY.