The art of self-affirmation has been a way to combat negativity and literally speak life over our lives. When we think of how things like burnout, self-doubt, stress, and anxiety creep into our mental and emotional state and cause us to believe things about ourselves that are the furthest thing from the truth, affirmations act as a powerful tool at combating negative energy. In a world that oftentimes seems intent on making us feel small, devalued, or overlooked, affirmations build us up and act as armor as we battle the everyday pressures and pitfalls of life.
Starting your day with “I am” affirmations can stop your negative self-talk in its tracks, inspire motivation, change your negative thoughts, and encourage an overall optimistic mindset. Through these positive statements, we remind ourselves that we are love, that we are worthy and deserving of great things, that we are beautiful, and that we are capable beyond measure.
xoNecole recently chatted with five successful women about the power of “I am” affirmations in their daily lives. Here’s what they had to say:
Entertainment Journalist, On-Air Host and Producer
Courtesy of Sylvia Obell
Raven B. Varona
"I am capable."
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
"I know the plans God has for me."
"I have survived 100% of my worst days."
When I get overwhelmed, I begin to question my ability to handle executing under pressure. Imposter syndrome can seep through and I begin to worry I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, that I’ve pushed my abilities to their limits. As a freelancer, I don’t have just one manager who can see the big picture of my workload and say, "Okay, her plate is full right now.” No one knows what it looks like but me.
My podcast producers only see that angle, an editor has no idea that when they’re pulling me left, another editor from a different publication may be trying to pull me right. These affirmations remind me who I am and what I can do. They help me tap into the boss energy that requires pushing back and setting boundaries when necessary. And they remind me that I’m not doing it in my own power, that God is with me as I navigate it all.
"These affirmations remind me who I am and what I can do. They help me tap into the boss energy that requires pushings back/setting boundaries when necessary. And they remind me that I’m not doing it in my own power, that God is with me as I navigate it all."
I think of success as a mountain, the higher the altitude the thinner the air. I realized at a certain point that I’m going to need an oxygen tank to survive the high altitudes that come along with working at this level. Affirmations, my faith in God, and my tribe are all my oxygen tank. They keep me going. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do otherwise.
Affirmations are important because we live in a world that takes every chance it has to tell Black people, Black women especially, that we are not enough, that we are unworthy, and that we are not beautiful, etc. We have to combat all that negativity. We have to face it head-on so that it doesn’t sink in. The best way to fight lies is with the truth. Affirmations are the truth. Repeat them daily so they sink in more than society’s lies.
Founder of OMNoire
Courtesy of Christina M. Rice
“I am a multi-millionaire wellness entrepreneur, author, coach, and speaker.”
This is the same affirmation I have had for six years. I have several but this is my top one. I have it written down in my journals, on my computer, and on my phone. I may not recite it or see it every day but it’s ingrained in my work ethic every day. So even days I am overwhelmed, hectic, frustrated, and tired, this one "I am" affirmation is my constant reminder of what I am striving for in life. "I am" affirmations are the zoomed-out view of your life six months, twelve months, three, five, or ten years from now.
Start with one over-arching affirmation like mine above and then break it down into small digestible bites, what I call incremental manifestations. If I know my goal one, three, or five years from now is to be a multi-millionaire wellness entrepreneur, author, coach, and speaker, then the daily hats I wear are leading me to that goal, such as ideating new ways to generate revenue for the business, hiring the best talent, honing my public speaking and writing skills, and more. I’m a visual person so I tend to write an affirmation at the top of my daily to-do list which helps to ground and recenter me, then focus on what I need to do today to get to where I want to be tomorrow.
"What you put intention towards, gets your attention; what gets your attention, gets your power. You have a choice every day on where your power goes. Is it focusing on all the bad or is it leaning into all your infinite possibilities?"
We spend most of our lives in our heads, so make sure it’s a pleasant place to be. One thing I’ve learned over the years is this…what you put intention towards, gets your attention; what gets your attention, gets your power. You have a choice every day on where your power goes. Is it focusing on all the bad or is it leaning into all your infinite possibilities? That decision is solely up to you. Operating from an abundant, positively affirming mindset takes a lot of work. Hard work and practice. There are days a negative thought may pass through my mind and I stop it immediately and recite something positive and affirming.
I notice an immediate shift in my mood when I do so and that energy, that delight, and joy in knowing I have this much power over how show up in my world, translates into how I show up to my work and my life every single day. Affirmations give us hope. Affirmations expand our worlds to what’s possible. Imagine if every day your spirit was set ablaze by experiencing how good and delicious life could be; if you just believed in yourself, if you constantly affirmed your dreams and capabilities, if you surrounded yourself with others who live in this same truth. You would be unstoppable.
200 HR Certified Yoga Instructor
Client Services Manager, xoNecole.com
Courtesy of Tyeal Howell
"I am not defined by what I do, but by who I am."
"I am safe, secure, loved, and protected."
"I am capable."
"I am allowed to rest."
"I am present with my body, mind, and spirit. I am here, right now."
I start my day with affirmations. I have several colored sticky notes (Being Mary Jane-style) on my bathroom mirror so they are the first thing I see when I'm up from bed. When I start my day like this, it doesn't matter how busy my day is ahead of me. Time with self is so necessary in my life. I am a mother, I live alone and I work from home. My office is my home so keeping up around my apartment is basically a second full-time job. As a client services manager at xoNecole, it's my responsibility to keep our projects organized and moving on track. So, if I'm not organized and on track I can't handle my business. My affirmations help me connect with myself first to be able to show up for my daughter and the world.
"I believe that everything in life is mental. What we focus on becomes reality. What we believe about ourselves is the only truth that exists."
I first realized the significance of my affirmations when I spoke a cross-country career move into existence. I moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta and started my own business in 2018. I had been affirming my ability to accomplish those goals for over a year with my daily affirmations. When I was finally able to see how much I've accomplished and how capable I really was of achieving certain success milestones, I realized that affirmations are an essential part of my lifestyle. Affirmations also got me through my labor and delivery process with my daughter. In between contractions in the hospital, I spoke some powerful affirmations over myself and my daughter and they really helped me stay in the zone and focused on meeting my baby girl for the very first time.
I believe that everything in life is mental. What we focus on becomes reality. What we believe about ourselves is the only truth that exists. My love language is words of affirmations. If I can't show that love to myself, I cannot expect anyone else to show it to me. Affirmations have been life-changing for me and I hope everyone takes some time to define what they affirm about themselves and their futures.
Founder of Manifest Daily
Courtesy of Dheandra Nicolette
"I am strong."
"I am worthy and deserving of everything that I want in this life."
"I am a powerful co-creator of my reality."
Throughout the week, I'm balancing my role as Director of Social Media at a travel media company beside my role as the sole content creator behind Manifest Daily. This daily balancing act means that I'm often holding myself and my work to incredibly high standards because of my goals and the reality that I am manifesting. Returning to these affirmations and reminding myself that I am deserving of the things I am working towards helps me combat imposter syndrome and the feeling that I am not doing enough.
As a woman, I am constantly trying to balance my masculine and feminine energies while bringing my best self to both my team and my content creation process every day. It's essential for me to remind myself that this process isn't easy, but I am strong enough to do it.
"It's essential for me to remind myself that this process isn't easy, but I am strong enough to do it."
When you take the time to reaffirm positive affirmations to yourself consistently, you're choosing to speak kindness and love over yourself, which affects you in so many ways. Affirmations need to be spoken with intention, positive energy, and a genuine desire to show yourself compassion. When you do this, you're reminding yourself that you're worthy of love, respect, and kindness. You not only begin to treat yourself with more of this energy, but you begin to project it on to others as well.
It creates this ripple effect where you end up constructing a much lighter and brighter world for yourself simply because you chose to start with the small yet powerful intention of showing up for yourself.
Founder/Editor-In-Chief of The Gumbo
Courtesy of Nadirah Simmons
"I am doing what I can with what I have."
My affirmation is a play on my favorite Arthur Ashe quote: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” It’s so easy to get caught up in what others are doing, what they have, or what they’re doing with what they have. And as someone whose tasks and roles require them to be on the internet and social media every day, the exposure to these things increases tenfold.
My affirmation is a good reminder to always remain focused on my work, my path, and the tools I have right in front of me. When the world quite literally stops, you start questioning who you are and what your purpose is. During the beginning of the pandemic for sure, especially when we were all in isolation.
"I realized that affirming I’m in the right place with the tools I’ve been afforded at that very moment helps remove the pressure to present myself to the world in a certain way."
I realized that affirming I’m in the right place with the tools I’ve been afforded at that very moment helps remove the pressure to present myself to the world in a certain way, always working, always having something new coming out, etc. It’s cool to just be where you’re at when you’re there.
Affirmations often reflect what we believe and who we are at our core, and they also give us the space to state these things as facts! When you do this, it can only enhance the way you feel about yourself and your place in the world around you.
Featured image courtesy of Nadirah Simmons
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Michelle Buteau’s comedy series Survival of Thickest recently premiered on Netflix. And as a plus-size woman in her thirties, seeing a plus-size character who wasn’t the sidekick was extremely refreshing. Yes, the Plus community has had a few main characters (i.e., Miss Piggy – fat and fabulous). But at what cost? Like other plus-size characters, Miss Piggy was constantly ridiculed for her size.
Historically, plus-size female characters were pigeonholed into comedic relief roles or underwent a transformation to be deemed “attractive.” Such portrayals perpetuate the damaging message that one's value or beauty is tied to their body size. And because I didn’t have the representation, I wanted on-screen then, I am so happy to see the shift in how plus-size characters are portrayed now. Representation matters immensely. It shapes perceptions, builds confidence, and fosters acceptance. Everyone deserves to see diverse bodies depicted as confident, beautiful, and worthy of love.
Buteau refers to her series as a “love letter to fatty baddies” during an interview with NPR, and I couldn’t agree more. In addition to being an attention-grabbing and funny series, Buteau was meticulous in creating the on-screen lead – Mavis Beaumont. She was fun-loving, empowering, and raw. Mavis stood in who she was, not just as a woman but as a plus-size baddie. She never settled, which once again…thank you! This series taught me five lessons – some new and some I just needed a friendly reminder of.
Loving your plus-size body isn’t WEIRD (or even wrong)
This was one lesson I always knew, but seeing a TV series reaffirm it makes it that much more important. Something about seeing fat positivity seems to irk some people’s spirits. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size ten or size twenty-two; you deserve to love the skin you are in. You deserve to feel comfortable, loved, and seen. And no one has the right to take offense to you loving every inch and roll of your body. Mavis did a fantastic job showcasing this lesson throughout the season.
But unfortunately, there are still so many who disagree. For instance, plus-size beauty and fashion influencer Stella Williams is often criticized for her confidence in wearing various clothing – side cut-out swimsuits, crop tops, etc. She is constantly criticized for not “minimizing her stomach” no matter how cute the outfit is, but why should she? Why is it wrong that a plus-size woman loves her body and has no issues hiding it? Williams continuously breaks the barriers of unrealistic beauty norms and refuses to be shut out.
Plus-size characters are MORE than a joke
Survival of the Thickest proved that writers can create a character without making that individual a stereotype. A fat character on screen doesn’t have to be glutinous, sloppy, or joking about their bodies. And let’s be honest; fat jokes are unoriginal. Fat jokes have plagued TV shows and films for years. One example is the popular cult classic Next Friday, where Day-Day (Mike Epps) used food to influence Baby D (played by rapper The Lady of Rage) to stop chasing after him. Those types of jokes imply that plus-size people have an unhealthy relationship with food, an obsession.
Plus-size people can be a MAIN CHARACTER
This lesson applies to real-life and on-screen. Your size doesn’t mean you can’t be the main character ever. Nowadays, I see plus-size people who own who they are, but this lesson is for those who never saw a plus-size main character or didn’t feel they could be the main character in their own lives.
I grew up in an era where plus-size representation was SCARCE. Honestly non-existent. Unless it was coming from close to home, you might’ve not experienced being told you were beautiful without it was a backhanded comment – “Pretty for a big girl” or “You would be prettier if you lost weight.” Therefore, you had to have tough skin on the playground and in the world. And it would be the same sentiment in movies and books. But do not dim your light because of how others believe you should be or look.
Be Authentically YOU
One thing I respected about Mavis was that she was authentically herself. People change to conform to spaces that weren’t meant for them. And I’ve always said I’m too big to be placed in a box, personality included. Plus, life is too short not to be who you are and meant to be. Every space – friends/circles, environments, etc. – aren’t meant for you, and that’s OK.
A great example: Survival of the Thickest co-creator, executive producer and star Michelle Buteau. She has consistently reinforced that one's power comes from being authentic to oneself. By sharing her experiences as a plus-size woman in the entertainment industry, Buteau demonstrates the importance of being genuine in a world that often promotes idealized images of women. This lesson teaches us to empower ourselves and inspire others by honoring and showcasing our authentic selves.
Plus-size bodies ARE desirable
Like number one, this was a lesson I learned early, but once again, Mavis reaffirmed it throughout the season. I enjoyed that Mavis found love without feeling the need to change. One movie you witness this in is the 2006 rom-com Phat Girlz. The main character Jazmin, played by Mo’Nique, couldn’t believe Dr. Tunde was initially interested in her or was faithful, so much so that Jazmin questioned him at one point for not trying to sleep with her. I remember being frustrated that the main character only felt desirable through a level of sexual attraction.
Another time we see this is in the early 2000s series Degrassi. I wanted so much more for Terri’s character. She was plus-size and one of the prettiest girls on the show, but her character was made to be insecure. And I understand this was a teen series; therefore, they were dealing with underage drinking, insecurities, and love, but she deserved a more fleshed-out story.
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Feature image by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Netflix