20 Mantras for Weathering Life's Storms
Words to bring peace to your darker moments
What is a mantra and why use one?
If you’ve heard the term mantra before, you may have an image of self-help seminars and motivational speakers in mind. But today, I hope to give you a different perspective on how they can be implemented in your life to build peace and contentment in the midst of life’s stormiest times.
What is a Mantra?
Look up the word ‘mantra’ in the dictionary and you will find it defined by its origin in Hindu, Buddhist or Sanskrit tradition as a word or phrase repeated to improve concentration in meditation. While this is where mantras originated, it is not their only use today. The word mantra has evolved to refer more to a word or phrase that aids in modifying our thoughts and, thereby, our emotions and actions. It’s a line of speech that can be repeated to provide comfort, balance, and perspective in some of our most difficult times. Below I will give you a few examples that may serve you in your trip through life’s storms, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. One of my favorite things to do to bring peace into my life and home is to post some of my favorite quotes around my house as reminders of the values and principles by which I want to lead my life. As I type this, the background of my computer screen includes the phrase “when you can’t look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark,” a line from Alice in Wonderland that I have kept close as a guidepost for my leadership and relationship philosophy that I do not have to fix problems to provide support. Sometimes simply being present is the most powerful gift. Mantras can be as varied as the people and situations that warrant their use, so find what resonates with you and lean into it when the storm clouds start to gather.
Why use a mantra?
One core therapeutic philosophy you might encounter if you decide to see a therapist is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This philosophy is built on the idea that our thoughts determine our internal states and, therefore, the way we respond. As an example, imagine you’ve just been cut off in traffic after a long day of work. If your first thought is “What a selfish jerk! He clearly only cares about himself,” the emotional state that follows will likely be some version of angry, resentful, and annoyed. That emotional state will in turn lead you to act in ways that communicate anger, resentment, and annoyance, such as yelling, driving aggressively, retaliating, or maybe giving said driver the old one finger salute. And furthermore, the result for you is a destructive internal state that ramps up a lot of unhelpful processes for the situation, things like raised blood pressure and heart rate and decreased digestive functioning (nothing particularly helpful to remedy the situation in front of you). If, though, your thoughts went in a different direction (either automatically or by conscious choice), you might experience a different outcome. Let’s say you had just made a distracted driver error yourself just a minute or two before said driver cut you off. Your first thought might be something more like “Been there buddy, it’s a lot to keep track of in busy traffic.” In this version of events, your emotional state is likely to be one of calm. It is very likely to result in a different set of behaviors, maybe laughing it off or just moving on to the next thought. Either way, it would result in a much less lasting or extreme response, thereby serving you and your long-term health by preserving your peace and avoiding the all-too-common piling up of stressors and frustrations that wear on our day to day health and functioning. So, back to why mantras help- a mantra is a pre-loaded helpful thought that you can lean on when you recognize that you are headed down the less helpful thought-emotion-action road. It lowers the amount of energy and thought power required to take a right turn from “what a jerk” to something more helpful for your own mental state. Having a few mantras in your pocket, loaded at the ready for specific types of situations can make a healthier mindset all the more reasonable to attain. We’re all weathering something and we all get tired, so think of mantras as gifts you give your tired self so that you can make the healthier choice even when you don’t have the energy. It’s like mental meal prepping!
***Disclaimer: There is no one size fits all mantra. As you read through the following, find the mantra (here or elsewhere) that leaves you feeling seen, heard and hopeful rather than one that leaves you in guilt, shame or fatigue. It’s not just the words, but how you internalize them that make mantras work!***
Mantras for Every Storm
Perfectionism and Fear
Battling perfectionism and pushing through fear require us to embrace our flaws and recognize that those flaws do not have to stop us from living our chosen lives. If you find yourself in the midst of analysis paralysis, try leaning into one of the following phrases to remind your inner self that you are a rock star and that your flaws are not fatal, but essential to growth.
- I am (or we are all) a work in progress, I’m doing the best I can with what I have.
- When I know better, I use the knowledge to do better.
- I’m not perfect, I’m growing, and that’s enough.
- It’s scary because it’s new and because it matters. I am choosing to grow by trying something new/hard.
- Mistakes are how we grow. When I give myself permission to fail, I give myself permission to grow.
- When you’re going through hell, keep going. (Or my variation- Ain’t no way through it but to do it!)
Grief and Disappointment
Letting go is one of life’s hardest skills to build and it rarely comes without pain. But often the pain is magnified by the fight we wage against the loss we don’t accept. Try out some of these phrases to help you through the process of accepting and grieving the losses in your life.
- I accept the things I cannot change, and focus on changing the things I can.
- Grief is a process, letting go takes time.
- My feelings matter, my disappointment is valid.
Anger and Resentment
Anger often comes from a place of feeling our values have been violated. In that sense, it can be an incredibly helpful indicator of what it is that truly matters to us. It is often a response to feeling powerless in a situation that matters to us. Similarly, resentment can be a very helpful indicator of the things we would like to be doing for ourselves, but for whatever reason, aren’t. In recognizing the resentment, we can also recognize something we need in order to build our own peace. Try leaning into one of the statements below to remind yourself to look deeper at your anger for the more helpful lessons beneath.
- I’m resentful because I have a need. Don’t get mad, take notes.
- We all have our baggage. Their actions are about them, not about me.
- They won’t lead me to anger. I choose my peace.
- I’m angry because this matters to me. I can see my principles at work.
Burnout and Fatigue
Fatigue and burnout result from two primary places. One, you may be doing too much for others and not enough for yourself. Or two, you may have been doing something hard for a prolonged period of time, draining your own battery. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. In any case, the situation may require you to keep moving, drawing on your inner strength to get through the tough times before you have a chance to rest. Some of the following phrases were included to help you push through in those moments. That said, when you finally reach that place where rest is possible (not convenient but possible) use the second group of phrases to remind yourself that rest is just as important as fortitude.
- This too shall pass.
- I can do hard things. I have done them before; I will do them again.
- I don’t HAVE to do it; I GET to do it.
- Rest IS doing something.
- I can’t pour from an empty cup.
- My joy matters too.
- I will show myself the love I show others.
Mantras may not cure everything, but they can give you the reminder you need to find balance and peace in the midst of hard moments. By giving yourself reminders that your emotions are valid, but that you want to choose a different, healthier path, you are healing your own wounds and building the peace you crave. While I will never tell you that this process is easy, preparing your mantras ahead of time can help to make it a little simper. And as always, if you want company on your journey to peace, Tailored Brain Health would love to help. Reach out to us by emailing email@example.com or call 336-542-1800. And check out our social media for some more mantra ideas for your tool kit.