The sign caught my eye as I cruised down the hall in between meetings, and I stopped in my tracks. “I AM,” it read. “Two most powerful words, for what you put after them shapes your reality.”
The sentiment stayed with me. For several days, its declaration sank in further, as I considered how I described myself to others, what words I said to myself (self-talk), and how I viewed myself (self-identity).
I am … (fill in the blank.)
Approaching this task, we each can list our roles. We can say kind things, or berate ourselves – whether it’s true or not. And repeated over time, those initial thoughts can lead us to turn them into reality.
What Comes After the Two Most Powerful Words
But to use this even more to our advantage, particularly when we consider our holistic health, we can take it a step further. Try the following sentences:
I am a person who …
Or, I am the type of person who …
What do you put behind those words?
How about, “I am a person who chooses nourishing, healthy food, because I want to take better care of myself.” Or, “I am a person who moves my body every day, so I can age well and strong.” And “I am a person who finds healthy ways to manage my stress.”
When we think this way, even if we’ve only completed the action once or twice, our attitudes and habits come alongside us, and we keep taking action.
I recall first learning about loving the foods that loved me back – nutrient powerhouses that don’t create inflammation. And I learned about foods like industrially produced cooking oils (canola, vegetable oil) and fried foods that cause inflammation. So I decided first to stop eating French fries and other fried foods.
“You’re never going to eat another French fry?” a friend, incredulous, asked me during lunch. “Not today,” I replied.
Overnight, I became a person who doesn’t eat fried foods. And my actions continued to reflect that. So my identity – what came after those two most powerful words – changed.
I’ve experienced other “I am a person who” transformations through the years, from not exercising 10 years ago to being a person who moves my body intentionally (some may call it exercise) every day.
And 10 years ago, I would have said “I am a night owl” (and sleep deprived.) Today, I’m a person who works to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Also, I am a work in progress!
Your Two Most Powerful Words: An Exercise
So I invite you to take a moment to write down the answers to each of these questions, perhaps in a journal so you can track your answers over time:
- I am … (fill in the blank with as many descriptors as you’d like.)
- I am a person who … (fill in the blank with as many attributes as you want to cultivate.)
- This month, I’m going to be someone who … (fill in the blank with where you’d like to start as you work to break down longer-range plans. Remember baby steps!)
James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” says to build lasting habits, we need to create a new identity first and then prove it to ourselves. He calls these identity-based habits.
“In my experience, when you want to become better at something, proving your identity to yourself is far more important than getting amazing results,” Clear writes. “This is especially true at first.”
What will you put behind, “I am” this week?
Hi! I’m Amy Hoogervorst, an integrative health coach, and I’m glad you’re here! If you’d like more information, ideas, and inspiration for a healthier you, I invite you to subscribe to my Well Check email, delivered each weekend for free to your inbox.