Despite the dangling participle in the title of this essay, about which my favorite high school English teacher would cringe, and I too, perhaps you're wondering why I would ask that question in the first place, and why I feel that it's important for you to answer it in the second place. I'm asking that question because I've learned how important it is in my own life to notice that to which I'm saying "I am," and because I believe it matters in your life, that you also notice that to which you're saying "I am." In my experience, your life literally depends on knowing that, because you will live your life as if your "I am" statements are true, whether or not they are!

When we say "I am" to something, we are creating a law for ourself; we are defining ourself. We are saying "this is what's so (or not so) about me." And because it's said in the present tense, it's an open-ended statement that continues on into the future, indefinitely. So it's very important that we be aware of what we're declaring about ourself. We may be defining something wonderful about ourself, or we may be defining something very limiting about ourself. It's important to know which we're doing, because we are literally making a law for ourself by such declarations, a law that we will then have to live by; a law that may serve us or dis-serve us.

Just as the Old Testament refers to the name of God as "I Am," so also do our "I am" statements become our name, our definition of ourself. When we make one of these statements to ourself, we are defining ourself by that declaration, regardless of whether it's true or not! We're setting in motion a law of our being that we will have to live by until we change it, because we made that law and we believe it. And we will enforce that law upon ourself, because we made it and we believe it, whether or not it's actually true.

Often we have been led to believe something is true of us, or of life in general, because someone close to us taught us to believe that. We may later come to realize that it's simply not true. But if we believe it's true, we're going to live our life as if it were true, and thereby limit our life, as if it were true, whether it is or not. If it's actually not true, that could be very damaging to our happiness or even our very existence. That's why we've got to notice when we're doing it, so we can change it, if we're unnecessarily limiting ourself. "Noticing when you're doing it" gives you a chance to change course, if you notice you're creating an unnecessary and needlessly limiting law about yourself.

Many of us have created such self-defeating laws like this for ourself without even realizing them for what they are. We've defined ourself, and often others as well, in limiting and even degrading ways, not realizing what we've been doing to ourself or others. And the sad part of it is that such statements are often not true of us or them, but we've been led to believe they are. Many people suffer from a low self-image because either they have, or someone important in their life has, declared something about them that limits or degrades them, or that somehow else defines how life is or isn't. And it's often one's parents, teachers, or religious leaders--the people who usually care the most about us--who have declared these kinds of things about us, whether or not they realize what they've done.

Most of us also don’t realize that we’ve done this all of our lives, whether or not we realized what we were doing. And we will continue doing it the rest of our life, whether or not we realize we’re doing it. We will be helping ourself or hurting ourself by such declarations, by these “laws” we create for ourself, whether or not we realize we’re doing it, and whether or not they’re actually true.

So it’s vitally important to know this, and to be proactive in monitoring what we’re doing, so we can catch ourselves in time, if we notice that we’re beginning to set up an unnecessary and limiting law for ourself. If we do notice that, then we can immediately take steps to change that law of our being from a law which disserves us into a law which serves us.

It’s also important to know that “I am” doesn’t always look like “I am.” It can also look like “I’m not,” “I can’t,” “I never,” “I could never,” “I won’t ever,” “I’ll always,” “I always,” “it always,” “it will always,” “they always,” “they will always,” “they never,” “it will never,” or countless other variations of “I am” statements that define something about oneself. Each of these kinds of statements is setting up boundaries for us which we will have to live by, because we’ve declared it, and we believe what we’ve declared, whether or not it’s actually true. If such declarations are negative and/or limiting, they become unnecessary but self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling prophecies that we’re creating for ourselves, to our detriment.

We’ve seen thus far how this “declaration process” can work negatively, against us. You can declare something about yourself that isn’t true of you, but you currently believe it’s true, and thereby limit yourself unnecessarily, as many of us have done from time to time. And this negative influence will continue on the rest of your life, unless you change it. We probably all have witnessed this in others even if we haven’t realized it in ourselves.

This “declaration process” can also work positively, for us. You can also declare something about yourself that really is true, even if you don’t currently totally believe it’s true, and thereby help alter your belief about that matter, and your life. That’s what can happen when we begin to use affirmations.

A belief is simply an idea—an idea that we’ve thought over and over, until we came to believe it. We may not have totally believed that idea in the beginning, but someone or something led us to believe it was true, through repetition. That idea may be true or it may not be true, but if we come to believe it’s true, it will be true for us, whether or not it’s actually true, simply because we will live our life interpreting life as if it were true. That belief becomes a particular color of sunglasses, so to speak, through which we will see life and interpret life, according to that belief.

Jesus taught us some 2,000 years ago (though most of us haven’t realized it) that it isn’t done unto us “as it is”; it’s done unto us “as we believe.” I believe that’s true because we have been created in God’s image, as creators with God. Jesus said repeatedly, to people who received healing through him: “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee,” according to the King James Version of the Bible. He never said that he had done it unto them; he said that it had happened “as they believed.” He also said that he couldn’t do mighty works in some places “because of their unbelief.” I believe he knew what he was talking about.

I believe that Jesus believed so strongly in what he believed to be true of others, that they began doubting their doubts, or their negative beliefs, and started believing about themselves as he believed about them. And it was that “belief” that created miracles in their lives. His faith created faith in them. And that’s why he said that we could do what he did, and more. He knew what was true of us, and he knew the power of belief.

It’s “belief” that explains why “the placebo effect” in medicine works—why someone improves or gets well simply from taking a common sugar pill that they believed was a new miracle drug. It will be done unto us “as we believe,” not “as it is,” in the case of the sugar pill, whether or not that belief is true, and whether or not that belief serves us or disserves us. That’s how powerful our beliefs are!

There’s a sense in which it doesn’t matter what you believe (to the Universe, since everything is allowed in a free-will universe), but what you believe is all that matters to you (since you will have to live by your beliefs). That’s why it’s so important to notice what we’re believing about ourself, to notice what kinds of “laws” we’re creating for ourself. It will be done unto us “as we believe,” whether or not it’s actually true, because we believe it.

When we decide to use an affirmation, and start doing so, we are using that same process to “build a belief.” We are putting into motion a new law of our being, a law that will serve us well, just as other laws we’ve created have disserved us. There may be a part of us that believes the affirmation, but another part of us that doesn’t quite believe it yet, but we want to believe it. In such cases, we usually feel that the “higher part” of us knows this is true of us, even if we’ve been led to believe otherwise. That’s why we’re willing to start working with that affirmation.

This is when life can really get exciting, when we consciously and deliberately “make declarations” or “create laws” for ourself that actually are true but that we’ve been led to believe aren’t true. In so doing, we’re beginning to reclaim our power as beloved children of God. This is where can begin redefining ourself, from a “limited human being” into the unlimited child of God we were created as.

I challenge you to begin to notice your “I am” statements, however they may be worded. I also encourage you to begin making statements about yourself that are “ultimately true of you” even if you don’t totally believe they’re true of you today. You can create, by your strong statements and feelings of belief, a fuller version of yourself, one that has fewer limits than you may have today. You can envision “a better you,” that is really true of you, even if you haven’t quite believed it thus far.

You have the power to create yourself in the way that best serves you and all else. And you do it by using your power of belief and your affirmative “I am” statements. Begin speaking bold statements of truth about yourself, that align with what God believes to be true of you, even if you don’t quite believe it of yourself today. If God believes it of you, it’s true, whether or not you believe it. But it can’t be done unto you until you believe it.

So take this knowledge you now have, of yourself, of your “I am” statements, of the power of belief, of the process of making declarations, and of what God believes to be true of you, and start creating a life that serves God, that serves others, and that serves yourself, in the best ways possible. You now know better!

Charles David Heineke, 2007
Spread the word. Please copy freely.

Author's Bio: 

Charles David Heineke is a single, retired, senior citizen with a long history of study in personal development and spiritual growth. He's the author of a number of inspirational poems and essays.