I Am... Am Not

Remember that childhood argument that always started with an insult and quickly degraded into the exchange "Am not...Are too... Am not...Are too" continuing endlessly and growing louder with each "Am not... Are too..." accompanied by the sticking out of the tongue and other not so kind gestures?

As adults we sometimes have this argument with ourselves. Or at least I know I do. We argue with ourselves about who we are as we look in the mirror. It becomes increasingly clear I'm not alone as I communicate with friends who struggle with the dichotomy of who they are. We argue with the person we think we are, the person we want to be, the person others think we are, and the person others expect us to be.

Far too often we stare in the mirror and the image staring back says something we don't recognize. I've been there a few times in my life. We feel strong, but we see weakness. We feel vulnerable, but we see protective. We feel exhilarated, but we see exhaustion. We feel loving, but we see indifference. We feel acceptable, but we see something unacceptable. And on and on it goes. The argument within our beings that pushes us from knowing who we are to being who we are in any given moment.

Many of us feel we lose ourselves in love, but isn't it better to find ourselves in love? Love should bring us into our best selves rather than make us feel lost in our feelings for someone else. This can only happen when we love ourselves deeply enough to remove ourselves from situations where we aren't loved for who we are. This is rarely easy, but sometimes it must be done.

I find this dilemma appears often in my writing, whether in my poetry, my short stories, or my novels. I suspect I will discover it alive and well in my upcoming book on gratitude as well. It's one of those universal themes I find fascinating to explore.

When we look at the sum total of who we are, we often see things we like and things we hate. Thus begins the "Am not... Am too" game we play with ourselves. Oddly, enough while as children we defended ourselves about insults, as adults we tend to use the "Am not... Am too" game to attack our positive attributes. We've been so conditioned to not embrace all that is glorious and fabulous about ourselves because to do so breaks some rule about being humble. But I say it's time to let our inner children play "Am not... Am too" to attack the negative scripts we so easily embrace and replace them with the positive.

So the next time that little voice tells us we're unacceptable, we need scream "am not" at the top of our lungs. And the next time it tells us we are acceptable, we need to scream "am too" or better yet "you bet I am."

How about it? Ready for a game of "Am too... Am not" - children's style!


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