Having a personal mantra is something that everyone can benefit from. When I work with people who have struggled with self-esteem, feelings of anxiety or even feelings of grief or depression, I have often encouraged clients to develop a personal mantra as a way of staying centered, focused, and calm in the face of difficult emotions. Having a personal mantra can help you when you begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated or defeated. One great thing about personal mantras is that you don’t have to have just one, and you don’t even have to make it up yourself.
Take, for example, the Serenity Prayer. This is a common mantra that is used in addiction recovery circles and elsewhere, and it basically says: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” [original credit from the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr]. Your mantra can be something like this, an inspirational quote with a spiritual focus, or it can be completely different. You could use a song lyric that particularly speaks to you, or something your mother told you frequently when you were growing up that still resonates with you today. The power of a mantra is in its ability to help you focus your mental energy in a positive direction when you need to transition out of negative thought patterns. People often turn to inspirational quotes or wise old sayings in order to provide some comfort and hope during times of struggle (i.e: “this too, shall pass”).
Creating a personal mantra is just about using the messages that resonate most with you and provide you with encouragement and hope when you need a mental re-set. It serves as a source of positive affirmation and directs you to put your energy in a more productive direction. Whatever words you decide to use for your personal mantra, claim them! Decide that this is your new mantra and you are going to use that positive affirmation to help you through your current struggles or to keep you inspired. You don’t have to go around telling everyone, just make sure you internalize that message and use it when you need to.
Tips for creating and using a personal mantra:
– Think about your favorite inspirational quotes, song lyrics from your favorite artists, or words of wisdom you have heard or picked up on from other people you know, OR just make something up and inspire yourself
– Make your mantra short and easy to remember
– Make sure your mantra reflects something you actually BELIEVE
– Ensure that the mantras you will use are positive, uplifting, and encouraging (avoid picking something like “Life sucks and then you die”)
– Post visual images of your mantra in places where you will see it (in your wallet, on your bedroom mirror, on the wallpaper of your computer screen)
– Set a daily reminder to reflect on your mantra at a useful time such as when you first get up in the morning, or before you step into that dreaded Monday meeting that always sours your mood
– Keep repeating the mantra to yourself silently when you are struggling
– Pick more than one if needed
– You can use one for times when you are overwhelmed (“Serenity Now!”), and another for times you need to be inspired (“I can create the life that I want”)
I have several mantras that I use a various times in my life, but just to share, one that I use is “Get out of the Pool”. This phrase is connected to an analogy I use with my clients sometimes, referring to drowning in a pool of self-doubt or negative self-talk. It means that when I feel like I am lingering too long in self-doubt or negative thoughts, I need to get out of that pool before I drown. Sometimes I have to remind myself to get out of the pool, because I’m wasting my times there and it’s not helping me in any positive or tangible way to keep marinating in that self-doubt.
Once you start intentionally incorporating your personal mantra in your life, you will find that its power will grow. Changing our thought patterns and our limiting beliefs can be done, but you must make a conscious decision that you will actively work to re-focus your energy in a positive direction. You do not have to change everything in your life overnight but starting to use a personal mantra will help you shift your energy and focus in a way that will feel more empowering and will help you get through those times when your thoughts feel like they are controlling you instead of the other way around.
This post originally appeared on Medium.com.