This might shock you, but it shouldn’t… I’m not a big mantra or affirmation person, at least the way they’re normally used. I do, however, find they can come in handy as reminders when I’m struggling with something. They can also be a great tool to keep me on track with a goal or to keep me from catastrophizing when things aren’t going as well as I’d like.
The thing you have to remember about them is that must ring true to you in order to do you any good. For instance, if you have a nightmare boss and use the affirmation, “I love my boss” it won’t work because it’s not true, and it will probably never be true. That’s not to say that you can’t love every other aspect of your job, but are you really going to love the person who makes your work life a living hell? You can’t use a mantra or affirmation to simply will a circumstance into being. You also can’t use a mantra or affirmation in regards to anyone but yourself. They just don’t work that way.
Don’t Say It After Me
I was originally planning on giving you a list of mantras and affirmations that you can use in relation to your massage and bodywork sessions but I ran into two problems. First, I just couldn’t make the topic work. Second, I remembered that the best mantras are unique to each individual, so my list might not work for you.
That said, it can be helpful to see a few examples before you set off to create your own personalized mantra or affirmation. Mind you, mine are not “typical’ or original and that’s ok because they work for me. I originally heard most of them from someone else and either tweaked it for my own purposes, or just outright stole it because it was already perfect. Remember: You don’t have to start from scratch, if there’s an old saying, song lyric, or movie line that rings true for you, by all means use it!
So, here are a few of the sayings, mantras, or affirmations that I occasionally use:
Progress over perfection – Perfection is a myth. Continued improvement is more important than miraculous results. (Not that I’d say no to a miracle…)
Use everything to your advantage – If there’s a way for a situation to be win-win, why not tally a win in your column as well as the other person’s. This includes co-opting well known quotes to use as mantras and affirmations.
It’s not a priority – This helps take the sting out of giving up one thing to have another – like not buying something you want in order to get something else you want even more or not doing something because it will increase your pain.
A hot mess is still hot – When I say this to myself I can’t help but smile and not feel so bad about whatever has me down, like not being able to do full squats because my ankle doesn’t bend enough.
Slow and steady wins the race – Small changes over time are the only ones that are ultimately sustainable. So maybe I didn’t go on a massive diet and training regimen, but I did make one positive change to my current diet and exercise routine. It’s all good.
Allow or do not allow, there is no try – (5 gold geek stars to everyone who recognizes this bastardized version of a favorite quote) I started using this one in reference to stretching, especially as a way to explain gentle stretching. (see Why You Shouldn’t Try to Stretch for more info on that) As time went on, I found that it could be applied equally effectively to many things besides stretching. You can think of the difference between trying and allowing as the difference between working against or working with something or someone.
Baby steps make more progress than standing still – It’s like the meme says, no matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.
Attitudes are contagious – Years ago I saw a sign at the checkout of a convenience store that said, “Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching.” I’ve never forgotten it. Whether you spend a majority of your time with negative or positive people, their attitudes are gonna rub off. Ditto for yours.
No is a complete sentence – No explanation necessary
There’s always something to be grateful for – It’s true. It might not be apparent right away, but it will be eventually. You might have to look outside your normal box to find it, but it will be there. For example, in mid-December we had to get a new furnace. Our initial response: (I would have typed this in sarcasm font if I could, but since that font doesn’t exist I put it in italics instead) Merry Christmas to us, and sorry everyone else but we’re done shopping for you all now. But… here’s the good news, we bought a high efficiency furnace and because we bought it in December, we were able to take advantage of the last month of a tax credit for energy efficient appliances. Come January, this credit would no longer have been available. Woo Hoo. Suddenly we were happy that it went out when it did. Oh yeah, the old furnace was 23 years old which is about 8 years longer than their usual lifespan. So another piece of gratitude pie for us.
Create Your Own
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your own mantra or affirmation:
First and foremost, any mantra or affirmation needs to feel true to you in order for it to be effective. If you’re on the brink of bankruptcy an affirmation of “I am wealthy” is not going to help. “I have enough” would be much more effective.
Situations are often more complex than we realize. You may think that you want to be pain free (and who doesn’t), but maybe you’d be over the moon happy if you were able to do your favorite activity again without setting off a flare. Those are going to be two different statements. Know which one you need and/or want.
Don’t be afraid to steal someone else’s statement if it resonates with you
Don’t be afraid to steal, and then tweak the crap out of, someone else’s statement if that’s how it resonates with you
Don’t be so serious. Sometimes what you need above all else is a little humor.
Do you have a saying that helps you get through life? Did you create one after reading this? If so, please share it in the comments below so that someone else can steal and twist it into their own. 🙂