When my life becomes overwhelming at times, negative thoughts get in the way of my progress. I find it easier to turn to mantras for reassurance instead of seeking my own positive thoughts that I only half-believe at the time. I am no “life expert.” However, due to certain life experiences at an early age, I believe I had to grow up fast. At my age now, I am able to look back at some of the struggles I have already faced in my life, but by doing so I am able to reflect with a different perspective and gain a new level of insight.
I too, admit to getting lost in the jumble of stress that life throws at us at times.
In these circumstances, I find myself turning to irrational thoughts rather than the logical thoughts that deep down I know are true. It is okay to fall out of place in these moments, but in order to get by smoothly I have learned it is best to find ways that work for you to bring yourself back on a positive track.
Here are some of the mantras I turn to when I am in need of some guidance. Following, are some lessons I have learned as a result of processing through each of them.
1. Feelings are not facts
You should not attach your feelings to your worth, or allow your feelings to define you. In my life, when anxiety is tearing me down, I must remind myself that my anxiety can sure make me feel weak, but I am not a weak person. Feelings are normal, even the uncomfortable ones. They are not a representation of who we are.
2. Let go of the “what ifs”
Any anxious mind, or those with self-doubt, desires to feel a sense of preparedness. By this you may allow your worries to jump too far into the past, or too far into the future and prepare yourself for your own made up scenarios. Not only is this draining, but in a way you are literally betting against yourself. It is important to live in the moment as it is, trust that no matter what happens you will be okay, and to not let your mind wander towards negativity. When “what if” thoughts get in the way of your focus, it is best to keep yourself busy in the present moment.
3. Worry is a misuse of the imagination. – Dan Zadra
This year, I came to a realization that was hard to sit with. If I continue to spend 90% of my time with my head in the future or the past, then my life will either go by extremely fast or painfully slow. It made me sad in a way. When I really sat back and realized how much of my time is dedicated to worry, and how much of my positive energy is being taken from me, I wanted a change. Imagination can take you to wonderful places – when it is used in the best of ways. Not only is worrying a misuse of imagination, it steals away precious time we have to enjoy (or acknowledge) the good in our lives.
4. I am stronger than this challenge, and this challenge is making me even stronger
If I have to thank my struggles in any way, it would be for making me stronger and allowing myself to see a brighter perspective. With proof, I know that any challenge I have faced or even struggled with, allowed me to acknowledge my strength when it was completed. When you are tackling something in your life that seems to be a challenge for you, remind yourself that the difficulty is temporary, and the result will bring you strength.
5. Log out, shut down; do yoga, drink wine
I adore this mantra, and it can be taken it different ways. It is a reminder that it is okay to have a lot on your plate, but it is not okay to allow yourself to get overwhelmed. It can be taken in many different perspectives, but in this case I view the imagery of a stressful amount of homework, or writing a paper for work. Take it a piece at a time if you need to. Then, give yourself permission to take a break, check in with yourself, ease your mind – before you get back to work.
6. Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can
This mantra is very important to me, and I try my best to include it in my thoughts. I have always looked for “what I could’ve done”, “what I should be able to do” instead of acknowledging the tiny victories I do achieve that are very important. It is a good lesson; to trust yourself and believe you are doing the best you can (at this point in your life) as the weight comes off your shoulders a bit. Sometimes, we are our worst critics. I have been training myself to reflect on the little things I do that make a big difference instead of guiding my focus towards all I am unable to do or have yet to accomplish.
7. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first
I know I am not the only one who tries to reach out to everyone else when I need to help myself as well. In a unique way it reminds me of the saying “you can not love another until you learn to love yourself.” It is a gift to be able to offer your support to others, but it is a significant part of self-care that you make sure your needs are met first for your own mental health.