I know my daughter is awesome. She has a warmth that radiates from within and can brighten anyone’s day. She works hard in school, takes on new challenges, and navigates challenges with a grace I’ve never seen in a 7-year-old. I make sure to tell her how much I appreciate her, and remind her of all the wonderful things that make her a beautiful human being. But I got to thinking some time ago, and decided I want her to know these things for herself.
Sure, loving words from another person can do wonders for our self-perception. But if we always rely on another person to raise our self-esteem, our worth and our value is tied to another person’s view of us. If we learn from an early age that we are who other people think we are, our sense of self, both good and bad, is at the whim of another person’s judgement. That’s a scary place to be.
Renowned author, speaker, and relationship coach, Jessica Yaffa, confirms this. “Our worth and value doesn’t come from others, it is based in who we are.” Think about that for a moment. We live in a society that assigns value based on what you do, not who you are. What do you do for a living? What kind of car do you drive? What kind of clothes do you wear? If I’m teaching my daughter that she is loved based on the value I assign her (which is positive), I am teaching her that her sense of self is fluid, based on my opinion.
If she is learning that her value is assigned by me, then she learns that my point of view can determine her worth. This isn’t an entirely bad thing, if the messages are positive. But what happens when she is subjected to a whole slew of judgments from society? Not everyone is going to like her. Not everyone is going to give her positive affirmations. Not everyone is going to try to build her up.
So how do I get her to internalize her sense of value and worth? How do I get her to realize that it doesn’t come from others, but it comes from within? And, just as importantly, how do I help her internalize the messages that she is highly valuable and highly worthy?
Well, making sure she hears positive messages is a start. But I’ve taken it a step further and have begun teaching her to tell herself these messages. There is something very powerful about “I am” statements, and as most of us can attest, our internal “I am” statements are often much louder than another person’s “you are” statements. Self-affirmations are going to be more powerful than anything coming in from the outside.
Every night, as I tuck her into bed, we go through the positive affirmations. “I am strong, I am brave, I am smart. I am beautiful, and I am perfect just the way I am. I am kind, I am loving, and I am a good friend.”
When we first started with affirmations, she was embarrassed and reserved, and it was a bit awkward. But now? Now she says them with confidence, with belief, and with self-assuredness.
I can only hope that as she works to internalize the affirmations and realize them as her own truth, they will become her default messages. Feeling a little defeated? I am strong. Scared of a new challenge? I am brave. Didn’t do well on a test? I am smart. The ads tell her she needs to wear a certain makeup or clothing style to be pretty? I am beautiful. Society tells her she needs to change to be valuable? I am perfect just the way I am. The world’s a little unkind? I am kind. The world needs a little more love? I am loving. The girls in school switch BFFs daily? I am a good friend.
These messages bring the power back to her. It doesn’t matter what messages she receives from others. Her worth and value are determined by her, and her alone. Hopefully, with the right foundation, she can continue to build on her own positive messages and keep that warmth radiating for a lifetime.