So as we discussed last time, success is the consistent repetition of deliberate actions towards a goal.
When I couldn’t get myself out of bed, dressed, or out of the house, my repetition was the thirteen steps it took to get me outside and walking around among the trees. Once I had consistently repeated those steps and managed to achieve my goal of leaving the house several times and going for several walks, I had to up my game.
That’s when the repetition of affirmations came into play. This also quiets down that evil witch in your head. I mean, by this part of my journey she is quieter, but only when I am concentrating on the 13 steps to leaving the house. The rest of the time she wont shut the fuck up.
So I employed some mantras.
I tried a few different ones on for size. I would change them frequently. I saved them as my phone screensaver so that when I started to panic or feel lost or lose my breath, I would be able to reach for something quickly and remind myself I was ok and give my mind something else to say other than the usual diatribe from the evil witch.
I found them on Instagram and Facebook [see my post over on my personal blog for a list of 20 FB pages to follow to transform your newsfeed from humblebrags to positivity]. I saved them and I set them as my phone background.
No one ever commented on it. No one even noticed. I used to leave my phone on my desk all the time and often pass it to colleagues for whatever reason. No one ever paid attention to any of my affirmations. Because everyone has their own shit to deal with. They don’t have time in their day to be looking at my phone, they’re busy looking at their own. So no worries there – no one thought I was any more crazy than they did before. And no one is going to be looking at your phone either.
The biggest thing I should point out here is that these affirmations were not things I believed. They were the opposite. The entire point was that I would have to repeat them to myself over and over again in order for me to start believing them. I chose mantras that said things I WANTED to believe, about myself and about the world around me. After several weeks of reaffirming the same mantra, I would eventually believe it, or it would no longer have the affect it did in the beginning, and I would find something else.
Usually I didn’t have to look very hard. Something appropriate for whatever specific struggle I was facing would pop up on my social media within minutes of me deciding I needed a new mantra.
I used to consistently tell myself “you are enough, you are interesting, you are intelligent, you are brave.” Another favourite was “This instant is the only time there is” from last month’s book ‘Love is Letting Go of Fear’. Also, “Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep the faith. It will all be worth it in the end.” [That one often got shortened to the last sentence.]
I would memorise them.
Sometimes, in the car [ok ALWAYS in the car] my mind would be so un-busy on automatically driving me places that the evil witch would have the entire stage on which to perform. And my god did she perform. In the car was one of my favourite places to cry [yes I know, nice and safe that is hurling down the M25 with snot on your face and tears in your eyes. I don’t recommend it.] And in that situation I couldn’t very well be staring at my phone for my mantra [obviously I couldn’t have read it anyway, being as I couldn’t see from all the snot and tears]. So I committed them to memory, so that whatever was going on, I could recall them and use them.
This is also particularly helpful when you need to appear to be present in a conversation, but actually you’re about to have a breakdown, and instead of snotting on the poor person who is talking to you about their very impressive spreadsheet, you can recall your mantra and breathe your way through the spreadsheet conversation without losing your shit in the middle of the office. [This didn’t always work I hasten to add. There was one very memorable time where someone kindly asked if I was ok, which caught me off guard and I lost my shit so loudly, and so very full of snot and tears, that all I could actually do to defend myself and others from the sheer spectacle I had made, was to bury my face in my hands and hope that, by some form of magic, I would teleport to a toilet cubicle. Alas, I did not teleport. But I did survive to tell the tale!]
My very favourite mantra, the one that carried me through when it eventually found me, the one that caused me to feel actual shifts inside of me, was this:
I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy.
This ticked every single box. Because what I actually felt was broken, imperfect, weak, powerless, full of hate, disruptive, and deeply unhappy. But I pulled this mantra out of the bag every two minutes of every day. Every time I thought something unkind towards someone else, or I felt jealous of them and their perfect life [ha], every time I felt weak or broken or alone, every time I wanted to scream and shout and cause a riot, every time I felt the terrible weight of every dark cloud on my shoulders, every time I felt helpless or afraid, this mantra had the answer for me.
Any sentence that starts “I am” is going to take you places. You can create your own. I stole this one from the Internet, or rather this was presented to me by the universe via the internet just when I needed it most. [I think it might be from The Secret – I don’t know, I have never read it.] But you can write your own and turn it into a screensaver. And if you don’t know how to do that, then I can help you. Just ask. Really. I will help you. It is no trouble.
I used to say this mantra to myself as I walked, when I cleaned my teeth, in the shower, in the car, at my desk, while I was being asked to do something I didn’t want to do, while I was being asked to do something I did want to do! I used to mutter this to myself on the way to the kitchen, getting a drink, in the bathroom, before I fell asleep, when I woke up, every time I took a breath… I would walk along the top of the hill, breathing in slowly and deeply, repeating the mantra in its entirety, then breathing out slowly and completely while repeating the mantra in its entirety. All the while walking. And saying ‘thank you’ for every little bird or white feather that crossed my path [maybe I will tell you more on that particular brand of crazy next time].
Eventually, one by one, I believed all of those words. I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy. And so are you. You just need to remind yourself.
One of my friends even wrote it on their mirror so that they could look themselves in the face and repeat it over and over. At the time I hated my face so I didn’t do this. But I quite like my face now so maybe I should try it. Maybe you should try it? Let me know if it works for you.
Again, the real key to this is repetition. This change did not happen over night, or after one walk, or after a week… it took time. So don’t feel discouraged. Just keep on keeping on.
Eat mantra, sleep mantra, rave manta, repeat mantra.