Self-Esteem Begins With “I Am,” and We Have the Affirmations to Prove It

Photo: Getty Images/JGIJamie-Grill
For a very long time, "Self Esteem" by The Offspring was my go-to karaoke song. To spare you a Google of the 1994 banger, the lyrics follow a subject who gets trapped in a toxic relationship because he's a "sucker with no self-esteem." Well. Sounds like somebody could have seriously benefitted from some positive affirmations for self-esteem, #amirite?

Regardless of whether or not you specifically relate to that pop-punk relic, it's very possible that you also aren't thriving in the self-esteem department. And that's not your fault—society is largely to blame. Social media provides plenty of comparison traps to scroll through at any given moment, and if your life feels less than picture-perfect (even if it is in an okay, good, or great place), it's easy to go to bed thinking, "I am not enough, I am not able to succeed, and I am not ever going to get through tomorrow."

But #realtalk, you are enough, able to succeed, and going to get through tomorrow. One simple way to boost your self-esteem is to embrace simple affirmations and rebrand your "I ams." Affirmations rewire your brain into believing in yourself, which is the cornerstone of bolstering your self-confidence. There are many from which you can choose, but if you're looking for a great place to start, Claire Grieve, a yoga specialist, health coach, and wellness expert, is on board with the power of affirmations that stem from empowering "I am" statements. "Your thoughts are incredibly powerful and can completely shape your life," she says. Grieve works to shift her clients from harboring "an 'I can’t' to an 'I can' attitude" with the following affirmations, and maybe you could try them out, too.

Below, find seven tried-and-true affirmations and the self-esteem-boosting scenarios where you may consider applying them IRL.

1. I am energized.

Really want to hit the snooze button on your alarm again? If you're dreading a big presentation at work or are unsure that you have the energy to take on a new assignment, this is a good place to start.

Tell yourself: "I will be energized and productive all day. I wake up with confidence and energy."

2. I am happy.

Some days you're just...not happy, and that's okay. If you suffer from depression or another mental-health condition, happiness can be especially hard to will into existence. But if you're going down a self-pity well because, say, your hot date canceled last-minute to take their cat to the hospital, I have news: That circumstantial experience is not a personal reflection of your worth. In fact, that might simply require the following affirmation:

Tell yourself: "I create my own happiness. I will not worry about things out of my control."

3. I am positive.

I think it's easy to assume that every Monday will be a nightmare, but calm down, Garfield. Negative thoughts contribute to fostering anxiety and manifesting actual bad days before they even start. Maybe the first work day of the week will be a little bit more manageable if you say this:
Tell yourself: "Today will be a positive day. I am grateful for what the day has to offer."

4. I am loved.

This is, IMHO, the most important affirmation to adopt for recognizing your worth and combatting self-esteem issues. It can be applied to, oh, pretty much any complication, but one particularly romantic scenario comes to mind: Maybe you're lamenting to your S.O. about the size of your thighs or your most recent blemish (me to an effing T, kids) and can't understand why they'd even want you. Stop. Breathe. And repeat after me:
Tell yourself: "I am worthy of self-love and respect. I accept love and appreciate myself and my uniqueness."

5. I am kind.

Let's say you need a self-care night and then proceed to cancel your plans with a friend. But instead of allowing yourself to bask in the JOMO, you're beating yourself up for putting your mental health first. Hey, no need for guilt! It's totally normal to want time for yourself; and taking it doesn't make you a bad friend. Anyone who really cares about you will get why you're prioritizing yourself. You can say the following:
Tell yourself: "I will be kind to myself and everyone around me. I am loved."

6. I am motivated.

So maybe you're trying to leave your job, and after 80 million interviews with a different company for a promising opportunity, you didn't get it. You may never want to open LinkedIn again and feel like you're a walking "Unhireable!" sign. I've been there. I don't have the power to hire you, but I can advise that you adopt this affirmation:
Tell Yourself: "I will get to where I want to be and love the process. I continually work toward my goals."

7. I am healthy.

If this is true for you, an important way to celebrate and practice gratitude. Recognize what you have instead of focusing on what you don't. So, even if you have a health concern, you can find something else to celebrate for yourself and your very being. After all, even if it seems all else is falling apart, you're still breathing, so you can say this:
Tell yourself: "I feel strong and healthy. I make my physical and mental health a priority."

"I am" affirmations are a good starting point for cultivating the confidence and control building blocks of self-esteem. Of course, it's a process, but because self-esteem is such an in-your-head issue, starting by shifting your thought process and perspective is key.

Maybe the first time you say "I am," you won't be completely sure that you are. But also, maybe with time and repetition, you'll will yourself into being exactly what you think you are.

This affirmation can help you kick off every day on a happy note. And here's an ancient mantra worth repeating every single day.

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