Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's Your Real Mantra?

I read a short article this morning in the print magazine from Lumunos that mentioned mantras, and finding some that worked for you. I have a couple of mantras that I like--one of which the author of the piece mentions, Julian of Norwich's "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." A couple weeks ago when I was lying awake with anxiety, I lulled myself to sleep by praying that with a rosary. 

I put the magazine down to get on with my day, vowing that later I'd think of/find some good mantras to keep on hand. And then it occurred to me--if mantras help guide our thoughts and actions, what happens if we're repeating mantras without even realizing it?

For instance, the worry "I'm never going to find a job," while understandable, can quickly affect us negatively if it's just repeating itself over and over in our minds. The same with: 
  • "I'm not good/smart/capable/brave/[enter positive descriptive here] enough"
  •  "Everybody's judging me" 
  • "I'm fat/stupid/awkward/ugly/[enter negative descriptive here]" 
  • "I can't do that"
Maybe we don't ever say them out loud, but chances are all of us have some kind of negative mantra we've been saying to ourselves, allowing to affect our lives, without even realizing it. 

My suggestion: pay close attention in the next few days to phrases you find yourself repeating. If they're negative, find something to replace it, and repeat it three times for every one negative. If you find yourself saying "nothing's going right," you might repeat Julian's mantra. If you're critical of yourself, try "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139). 

Look around to find some good replacement mantras--and please share them! I'll do the same.

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  1. You are so right about this, and about the power of positive OR negative thinking. So many times those negative thoughts are playing themselves over and over in our heads, and then we wonder why we're depressed or our lives aren't going anywhere. Thanks for posting your thoughts on this.

  2. Right on, Beth! Each day when we wake up we have to choose 2 things: whether we pay attention to the messages we give ourselves, and then whether we want to challenge the negative ones and/or replace them with positive messages. It can also be powerful to write down the messages we're giving ourselves to actually see in print what we're saying.