"If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.”
Bettie J. Eadie
When anxiety takes over, do you ever stop and realize what your thoughts are at that moment?
The words you use are incredibly powerful, especially the ones you use to speak to yourself throughout the day.
It might seem like thoughts just come and go and we don’t have any control over them, but that's simply not true. You can learn to control your mind with practice and perseverance.
Two of the most powerful words you will ever use are the words "I am".
Who Are You?
The words "I am" are a strong indicator of your identity which is why they are so powerful.
Your identity is a core facet of who you are, and it directs your perceptions, your behaviors, your mood, your actions, your feelings, and even who you hang out with.
Your identity is simply how you define yourself, and it has many facets such as your personality traits, values, ideals, beliefs, and more.
Your mind has this trick where it will always try to regain your basic sense of identity if something threatens it. For example, say you identify yourself as a very intelligent person. Then you take a difficult test, and you get a really low score.
First, your brain will make excuses to justify that your "intelligent" identity is valid. "I was just tired", "That test was biased", or "The room was too uncomfortable, and I couldn't focus" might be a few of your immediate thoughts.
Then, you will most likely take an action that "proves" that you are intelligent. You might find a friend and give them a long lecture on some esoteric topic just to prove how smart you are.
Identities are strong underlying motivators, and the mind works hard to protect them.
How to Use the Potent Power of "I Am" to Overcome Anxiety
Have you ever heard stories of the Buddhist monks in Nepal and Tibet?
After years of meditation and practice to control their minds, there are some who use their minds to control their physiology. They can sit in freezing temperatures and keep themselves warm using only mental techniques. They can raise their body temperature at will.
And have you ever experienced a person with "presence"? I was sitting in a restaurant once, and a man walked in. He almost physically radiated peaceful energy. When he walked in, the entire energy of the room shifted. Conversations stopped as people looked to see who had just walked into the room. As he walked, a sense of extreme peace just radiated from him and could be felt throughout the restaurant.
Religious people might imagine this to be similar to the energy emanating from the great religious masters like Jesus or Buddha as they entered a room.
If you've never experienced such a phenomenon, you'll need to do some mental imagery to imagine what it would be like. Think of the most spiritually-ascended monk (or another person) you can imagine. This person is extremely knowledgeable and is so filled with a sense of deep peace that he shares it with others just by being present. The peace emanates him and fills all those around him.
Visualize what he looks like. Close your eyes and hear the soft sounds around him. Feel the waves of peace flowing from him into every cell of your body. You become him.
Now, imagine that you really are him. You are the master who will spread this peace and knowledge to those around you. You can teach those around you the immense power of this peace without using words. This peace is so strong that it just emanates from you. It enters everyone and fills them completely. They are changed as a result.
Now, repeat to yourself, "I am", or "I am Peace". Imagine yourself teaching everyone else how to experience this peace just by showing it to them. You are the master, the teacher, the one who will change their lives for the better.
Next time anxiety overcomes you, in that moment, stop and remember that you are the one who shares this immense peace with others. You are the teacher. Feel that peace and see it flowing outward from your heart, filling the space around you and entering into the people nearby. Just say, "I am".
This is a powerful exercise that will help stop your anxiety in its tracks. When you become the teacher, the one others need and depend on, you lift yourself out of the false idea that you are small and helpless. Anxiety often makes you think you are helpless, even though the truth is that you are truly very strong and powerful.
The Brain is Tricky
When you say "I am" – and believe it – you are creating a powerful cascade that will flow into every aspect of your life. When you say "I am", you define who you are. You create (or recreate) your identity.
Whatever you choose to add on to "I am" determines how you will act, how you will feel, what you will tolerate and what you won't, and who you will choose to allow into your life.
If you choose to believe "I am peace", and you practice imagining that over and over, you will become peace. Your body will respond in kind. Your heart rate will decrease, your breathing will become deeper, and your muscles will relax.
Be careful how you choose to use these words!
If you make a mistake at work and you think, "I am so stupid!", that, too, creates a cascade. You start feeling bad about yourself, your mood shifts, your interactions with those around you changes, etc.
The great news is this:
Only you get to choose your identity. No one else can do it for you unless you to agree to adopt someone else's opinion and make it your own.
If you want to believe "I am a painter", it's your choice! Keep saying that to yourself. Soon, the actions follow. You'll want to pick up a paintbrush and practice painting more. You'll start noticing art everywhere.
If you walk around all day telling yourself, "I am scared. I can't handle this!", your brain will do everything in its power to make your identity true for you. You won't be able to focus, you won't be able to think of solutions, you'll feel small and scared and shaky. Your brain will also scan through its vast storehouse of memories and pick out all those times when you were scared and didn't handle a situation well. It will remind you of all those times, just so that you can prove your statement is true.
The Benefits of "I Am"
The power of those two words can be put to use to change any aspect of your life.
Scientists have studied the power of self-talk and how the words you use create your reality. Here are some interesting studies you might want to take a look at.
- Researchers at Harvard University showed that people who simply imagined practicing a song on the piano every day for several weeks physically strengthened the muscles in the fingers they used to play their imaginary song. There was a physiological change simply because they imagined they were playing the piano!
- There are plenty of other studies that have verified that your brain does not distinguish between imagination and reality. You can check some of them out here.
- Studies performed at the HeartMath Institute showed that your heart sends electrical signals to your brain. When you have a thought, you create a feeling to back it up. The frequency of that electrical signal has been measured (0.01 Hz), and the energy appears to radiate in a donut, or torus, shape and extends outward around your body. But what’s more intriguing is that this electrical frequency changes the brains’ release of chemicals which ultimately affects your behavior.
So create a thought, generate a feeling about that thought, and then your brain will use the resultant energy to direct which chemicals get released into your body. Those chemicals will ultimately determine your actions, and hence, the results you experience in the outside world.