The idea and prompt to write this post came from Liz in her own brilliant post where she presented five phrases she loves that can be classed as life affirmations and mantras. Her post resonated with me immediately because part of the work I’ve been doing in the past three and a half years has been to use words in order to reshape my mind and switch away from the unconscious habit of creating self-fulfilling doom and gloom prophecies, thus transforming it to an instrument and a facilitator of change. I needed this change; back then I was fragmented and broken and I had to work hard to stop and move away from the path of self-destruction I was walking. This is not a conclusive list, but rather the set I am working with, at this specific moment in time.
I am the story I tell myself about me
It took me a long time to understand the impact my words had on the way I perceive myself. The amount on negativity I carried in my head was impossible to comprehend and it took a great deal of external help before I started realising just how terminal my thoughts used to be. Then I had to learn to observe my thoughts as they happened. The next step was to learn how to stop the thoughts that seemed to come out of nowhere and were full of bile, anger, and toxic shame. Changing the habitual thought patterns is entirely possible albeit not without concentrated and sustained effort, something that is still on going.
My thoughts and my words shape my reality
The way I think about myself, the way I think about my every-day life, and consequently the way I talk to myself about it all, shapes events and situations accordingly. If I decide something is “impossible” to do, I sink into negativity and abandon it. If I focus my intent on solving the same problem creatively and without paying attention to negative patterns, I find a solution. The way I think about myself reflects on how I carry and present myself to the same people I am worried of how they see me. If the only thing I dream and talk is doom and gloom then all I receive is doom and gloom. Words are extremely powerful tools and the correct words have the power to create and destroy. Words create the descriptions that connect our individual perceptions of the world we live in, because we cannot experience the world directly through the eyes of another human being. Words shape our perception into concrete states about everything, including ourselves. It took me a long time to understand that I am what I tell myself I am.
Finding positive in every situation, makes the unbearable endurable
Life can be hard and unbearable. I come from an environment of abuse: emotional, physical, verbal. All I could see was abuse and it was all I could focus on. Eventually I had to replace the external abuse with self-abuse because that’s who I was telling myself I was. When Estelle, my teacher in the ways of learning to love myself, told me: not everything was bad, I rebelled and my anger spilled out like hot steam escapes from a hermetically sealed boiling pot that is ready to explode. Learning to find something positive in every situation is a habit. I am not sure if it works on everything but for now, I assume it does and I keep on practicing.
Empowering people by trusting them and encouraging independent thought processes is the greatest gift
It’s a gift for both the one who receives and the one who gives it. Encouraging independent thought means one has to accept human beings as they are. With flaws, shortcomings, damage, and everything else that comes as a side effect of the incredible brains we are carrying. I had to learn the hard way through failing that I can’t save people, regardless of how much I love them. Experience doesn’t come from protection, it comes from trying and failing and then standing up and trying again. We can share our perception of the world and the abstract ideas we believe in, through our words but our words are not a universal law or truth, but rather the subjective description of another flawed human being. The best we can hope for is that our descriptions will open up new pathways of thinking and will inspire. But ultimately, the only adult we are responsible for is the one we carry in our body. And that’s why trust goes a long way in making people happy without damaging them.
There are infinite variations between any two polar opposites
Infinite and all valid. Binary thinking has always been my worst enemy. I like to call it black-and-white perception, a state that usually pairs up with terminal thinking and untold amounts of negativity. When I expressed my desire to become an explorer at a very young age, I was told that everything there is to explore has been explored. When I said I want to be a writer, someone very close to me affirmed that only rich people become authors. Words can shape reality and they do that by shaping our conscious and unconscious thoughts. Even worse, the concepts of failure and success were dressed into terminal thinking: unless I bring perfect grades, I’ll always be a failure. Unless I obey and do as I’m told, I’ll fail permanently. Unless I do everything in perfection, I am not worthy. Perfection is a folly and an unattainable state. Failure is part of the learning process. A child learns to walk by falling a lot. They never stop after the first fall and decide: that’s it, no more walking for me, I failed in life. Learning to recognise these black-and-white thought patterns is an on-going and always surprising process for me that at times it feels too easy and other times entirely impossible.
Life is always moving and life is learning
Everything that happens has some lesson in it. The lessons never stop, they just transform depending on the situation. Life never stops, nothing on this planet, no, this universe, ever stops. And that’s perhaps the reason why we resist change with everything we have. Everything changes. I change every single moment. I finally figured out how to be grateful and happy in this state of being. Change is much easier to understand and handle this way.
Live every moment as if it’s the last one
Admittedly this one is still very much work in progress. I tend to fall into negative patterns that sweep me away from the moment-by-moment state of living and I have to stop and remind myself to go back. Having said that, learning is never instantaneous but rather a process of evolving towards the defined targets.
My intent is the arrow travelling towards my targets
I figured out that setting a target is not enough. There is another ingredient, the intent to reach that target, regardless of impediments and forces acting against it. My usual way of thinking was: I want such and such, but I’ll never manage it because of this and that. That didn’t exactly set a target but expressed what I wanted, albeit in a negative way. The next step was to learn how to set what I want as a target. Eventually it dawned on me that setting a target is not the same as working to reach that target. The missing link was my intent, unyielding and unrelenting intent to reach the target I’ve set. The state of mind where I know with absolute certainty that I can and will reach my target regardless of what stands in between. Impediments are problems needing a creative solution instead of terminal showstoppers, and time spent learning and working towards these targets is time well spent regardless of duration.
Intuition is as valuable as logic
Again stepping away from binary thinking, we never use only one or the other, regardless of whether we realise it or not. In my case, I had to realise and accept that a mix of intuition and logic solves problems and opens doors. My continuous lesson is finding the perfect balance between them without rejecting either. I believe that finding balance is a natural need and balance is a natural state that is exhibited everywhere in this beautiful universe so achieving such state inside our own minds is something normal and entirely possible.
Gratitude, kindness, and love is the glue that keeps the world together
One cannot be grateful when one sees only terminal negativity. This lesson was hard; I had to learn how to change my thinking before learning how to be grateful. Additionally one cannot extend love outwards if one cannot love themselves. I also had to learn self-love, abandon the empty and negative ways of thinking, and learn how to be kind to myself. Estelle always told me that I need to do everything with love and once I had the foundations of love inside I started extending the love outwards with amazing results. I am still learning these lessons but I can say that my view of the world has transformed completely in the past three and a half years and I’m ever so grateful for this state of being.
Life affirmations and Mantras – a work-in-progress
That’s my list for life affirmations and mantras. They are part of a larger set I use, the choice of which depends on various things like mood, situation, prompt, need, etc. I use these as reminders every time I reach states where negativity and complaints seem to be the only possible state of mind. I don’t treat any of the above life affirmations and mantras as universal laws or objective truths; they just work for me and like everything else in my life, they are in a constant state of flux and evolution.
Please also see Liz’s follow up post where she shares more of her favourite life affirmations and mantras. Do you use life affirmations and mantras in your life? Please share them with your thoughts in the comments section below.