We have a constant chatter in our heads and these words and ideas represent our attitudes and beliefs that affects our moods, actions and relationships. The way we talk to ourselves also has a big impact on our ability to motivate and comfort ourselves. Is your inner voice a loving friend or like an abusive football coach trying to whip you into shape?
Mantras and affirmations are a great tool to help us relate and respond to ourselves more positively and compassionately. Whether you’re using affirmations or mantras, the goal here is to develop a new language for relating to yourself.
Affirmations are “I am…” statements that help to improve our perceptions of ourselves. These statements can be used to challenge negative thoughts or help us to focus on the positive parts of ourselves.
The literature suggests focusing on internal rather than external aspects of ourselves/experience. For example, “I am a loving person who cares for others” or “I am a driven and passionate person” is more powerful than “I am worth when…” or I have…”
The point is that you don’t want to use affirmations that reflect contingencies on your self-worth or that come from a defensive place.
For more ideas on affirmations
Mantra: a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs (Merriam-Webster).
While you may associate mantras with prayer or meditation, researchers including, Kristin Neff, suggest using mantras to promote self-compassion in everyday life. When you’re used to beating yourself up, loving words may not come naturally so it’s really helpful to have a script for how to respond to yourself compassionately.
The mantra she suggests is:
This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment
Notice that each line of the mantra addresses one of the three components of self-compassion (mindful awareness, common humanity, self-kindness). Neff encourages us to find words that resonate with us and offers some suggestions for making this more natural.