The word “mantra” may conjure images of gurus and monks, chanting from high upon a mountaintop in a faraway land. “Mantra” to others may sound like a new-age fad used during meditation sessions and similar gatherings. The images associated with the word “mantra” often make the concept sound inaccessible to people in their daily lives, unless they are seeking some form of enlightenment.
Creating a personal mantra, however, can be done by anyone looking for a mindful way to build self-confidence. For individuals in a recovery program, developing a personal mantra can help build and maintain resilience to get you through the tough times. Creating mantras is also a great introduction to practicing mindfulness.
A mantra is similar to a personal motto that you can say to yourself daily or when you need to hear something positive. The exercise of creating a mantra requires you to focus inward on your strengths. When you start thinking of your strengths more frequently, you develop self-confidence.
Think of the “pink elephant” quandary. When someone tells you not to think about a pink elephant, what immediately comes to mind? For most, when we try not to think of something, we think about it even more! For many of us in recovery, we struggle with negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves.
When we tell ourselves not to think of self-defeating thoughts, we often reinforce these beliefs and think about them even more, just like the pink elephant. The key is not to control what we do not want to think about, but to replace our negative thoughts with empowering and positive self-talk. A personal mantra is a great way to start.
The first step to creating your personal mantra is to think about your strengths. Often, we have a difficult time evaluating ourselves. Think about those closest to you in your life and ask yourself, “What do they like about me?” You can also go straight to the source and ask others what they like and admire about you. Once you have some ideas, write your strengths down. The idea is to get a list of positive self-attributes on paper, so you can revisit them whenever needed. You may also find writing out your accomplishments to be helpful, for the same reason.
Look back at what you have written and take a few minutes to review your positive attributes. Which of those attributes do you feel is most important to you? Which attribute best defines you? You might find ranking your strengths to be helpful, or maybe a few stand out right away. If you ask a friend for help, you might be surprised to learn what other people admire about you.
Which accomplishment are you the proudest of? What strength of yours helped you accomplish such a feat? Think about which characteristic or achievement makes you feel the highest amount of confidence, so you can use it to power through difficult times.
Now that you have taken some time to think of yourself in a positive light, find a word or phrase that you can associate with your strengths and achievements. You can think of your proudest achievement and create a positive “I” statement that relates to it. Your phrase can be something like, “I am a great father,” or “I am a hard worker.” Alternatively, you may decide to pick just one word, like “happy” or “friendly.”
You could even think of a time or a place that makes you feel your best. For example, if you have great memories from a wilderness trek, your word can be something like the name of the mountain you climbed or the park where the hiking trail is located. Keep your phrasing simple, so that you can easily recall it any time, anywhere.
Now that you have created a personal mantra, when do you use it? Closing your eyes and remembering your mantra can help put you back into a positive mindset when you need it the most. You can recall your mantra when you are in a tough situation or feeling triggered. You can also say your mantra to yourself in the mirror each morning as you get ready for the day.
When you begin to think negatively about yourself, replace these thoughts with your personal mantra. You can even set reminders on your cell phone to recall your personal mantra throughout the day! The purpose of this exercise is to put yourself into a positive mindset as you build resilience on your recovery journey.
Developing a personal mantra is an easy exercise in mindfulness that you can do any time, no matter where you are. Other mindfulness practices, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation have been shown to build resilience for those struggling with addiction, mental illness, or trauma. The Kimberly Center offers classes in mindful exercises and practices that teach people in recovery how to build a positive mindset. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, mental health issues, and/or trauma, our highly trained staff can help. It’s never too late to change your life. Call The Kimberly Center today at (855) 452-3683 to learn more about mindfulness and other approaches that can help you or your loved one along the road to recovery. We offer various therapy options, and can help you find the type of care that can best help you to have a successful recovery.