Empower your new year with a few of these simple phrases to get through tough times.
Mantras, in general, can be helpful tools for managing stress and getting through tough times because of how they help improve focus, concentration, and attention to intention.
This is why so many people across the world have empowering experiences because of mantras.
Mantras have been used across cultures and across time for religious and spiritual hymns, yoga and meditation practices, and more recently for promoting mental health and wellness.
The process of chanting, repeating, and using mantras helps the mind and body release negative energy while tapping into positive energy. It can help you get “unstuck” from automatic negative thought patterns. This psychological, emotional, and physical process can help people adapt and improve their daily functioning. This is especially true if people invest their time and energy into forming a healthy habit of using mantras intended for positive affirmation, self-validation, motivation, and empowerment.
One way that I frequently encourage clients to use mantras as a part of forming healthy habits is to write down their preferred mantra on a sticky note and place it in a location around the house. Put it somewhere like the bottom corner of a mirror that you typically use as a part of your daily routine anyway, or on the backside of a cupboard door so that you can see the mantra each time you look into the mirror or pull open the cupboard. You could even take a picture of the sticky note and make it the background of your smartphone’s home screen because you’ll definitely see it regularly there, right?
Keep things simple with these 6 Mindful Mantras:
1. “Ride the wave of my breath. Get back into the flow of the river”.
This mantra can help men use their brain to change their brain. It’s a mantra that invites men to consider the mindfulness-based metaphor called “The River of Integration” as highlighted by esteemed psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. in his book titled “The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician’s Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration”. Basically, “The River of Integration”, Dr. Siegel wrote, “represents the movement of a system across time”.
He elaborated to explain that when all of the parts of a system (i.e., our core Self) are “integrated”, then that system is “adaptive and harmonious in it’s functioning”. Conversely, Dr. Siegel explained that when the linkage of different parts of the system “does not occur”, meaning that they are “not integrated”, then the system moves closer toward “the river banks” of “rigidity, chaos, or some combination of the both”.
This mindfulness-based mantra can help men adapt, accept reality, accept emotions, and then try to intentionally monitor and modify their cognitive energy by visualizing themselves regulating the energy of stressful emotions and physical sensations. Following this mantra as a set of instructions can help men bring more oxygen into their body that helps the brain calm & relax anxiety and start to think more clearly. Using this mantra can help men escape “the river banks” of what may feel rigid and chaotic and get through tough times by “riding the wave” of their breath so that they can get back into the flow of “the river” of life.
2.) “I am man enough”.
Patriarchal culture and traditional ideals of what it means to be a man have been under the microscope for decades, and for many good reasons. Author and journalist Liz Plank wrote a book called “For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity”. Actor and Director Justin Baldoni wrote a book called “Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity”. Together, they joined a dear friend of Justin’s, named Jamie Heath, who is an award-winning music producer and President of Wayfarer Studios, to start a podcast called “The Man Enough Podcast”.
This podcast shares countless moments of “honest and, at times, uncomfortable conversations with celebrities, thought-leaders, and change-makers” giving their audience a safe space full of mindful masculinity treasures that can be found in each episode since it launched in 2021. Usually, the hosts end each episode by reinforcing the guest’s belief that they are “man enough”.
This mantra can help men manage stress and get through tough times through the tool of self-validation. It can lead men to feeling more adequate and accepting of themselves even if they’ve been knowingly or unknowingly victimized by the frequently harmful, unhealthy, and rigid cultural messages of patriarchal masculinity.
3.) “If I can feel it, then I can heal it”.
Many men frequently feel motivated to protect themselves and their manhood by avoiding their emotions. This mantra can help men manage stress and get through tough times by engaging their “Reasonable Mind” (thoughts, beliefs, decisions, and judgments based entirely on facts and rational thinking) inviting them to accept and benefit from their “Emotional Mind” (decisions and judgments based on emotions and how we feel). Together, these two states of mind can “integrate” into what Dialectical Behavior Therapy refers to as “Wise Mind” (a state of mind using the wisdom from both the Emotional Mind and the Reasonable Mind).
This mantra can give men the encouragement they need to access their emotions, embrace and benefit from the power of vulnerability, and use the power of their own mindfulness-based skills to reduce stress because emotions really do love to be seen, heard, and understood. Unfortunately, male avoidance of emotions is often a contributing factor to increased anxiety, stress, and other emotional and behavioral disturbances.
As a mental health therapist, I believe that you have to feel it if you want to heal it, and this mantra can help men understand exactly why our natural, human, and core emotions are valuable resources for survival, healing, and growth.
4.) “ABC. NBC. Always Be Curious. Never Be Complacent”.
As men, we sometimes have a lot going on and it can be especially difficult to remember a long mantra in the heat of the moment. Acronyms like this can help people chunk some larger ideas into little tiny bits making it easier to remember.
This mantra can help men manage stress and get through tough times by engaging the self-energy of their curiosity, the values of learning and self-love, and the quality of perseverance needed to grow and fully develop in life despite the inevitability of stress.
Fortunately for me, I first heard this mantra as a piece of advice from my late great-uncle Don before he passed away, and it’s become an important source of motivation for me to handle "the bumps in the road". Instead of asking myself,"Why is this happening to me?", this mantra tends to make me ask myself,"What am I learning from all of this?", and then I try to grow with it.
5.) “My mission is to search for meaning”.
This mantra makes sense for men who may enjoy the challenge of “a mission”. Viktor Frankl, who wrote the book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, and author, and Holocaust survivor. He created a form of psychotherapy called “logotherapy”, which emphasized the importance of searching for meaning in life as a way to motivate the human spirit.
Giving men encouragement to take interest in searching for meaning in their life can help them manage stress and get through tough times because one of the ultimate concerns of existential psychotherapy is meaninglessness.
Viktor Frankl quoted the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in his book to reinforce the value of searching for meaning in life as a motivating force to overcome stress and get through tough times: “He who has a Why to live for can bear with almost any How”. This search for meaning, Frankl explained, is what sustained him and helped him survive the Holocaust.
6.) “I’m going to control the controllables”.
There are many times when men are faced with everyday situations that make them feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed.
This mantra allows time and energy to be focused intentionally on the factors of a situation that fall within our circle of influence, which are things that we can actually do something about, instead of the majority of other stuff that falls within our circle of concern, which are things that are mostly outside of our control.
Typically, we have to learn to accept the things that we cannot control. However, if it’s something that we can influence and maybe even control, then we can take a more proactive approach to do something about it, which helps reduce anxiety and stress along the way.
About the author:
Matthew Braman, LCSW is an imperfect husband, new dad, and Founder & CEO / Therapist of Verve Psychotherapy LCSW, PLLC.