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tedibear's avatar

Have you ever used a mentally repeated phrase and had a positive outcome?

Asked by tedibear (18869points) October 20th, 2010

I was going to use the word mantra until I looked up the definition!

I need to wrap my head around something that is a reality in my life and with which I continue to struggle. (I’m struggling because it’s something I don’t like. But it’s still the reality and that’s where I have to live.) I had a thought that if I kept repeating a key phrase or sentence in my head that it might help me to come to grips with what I must.

Have you ever used a technique like this, or something similar? If so, what was the outcome?

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16 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

It’s called a “mantra” and has been a part of meditation, relaxation and religion for hundreds of years.

You can use a traditional Sanscrit word or phrase or invent one of your own.

For example, “I am coping.” Breath in on “I am” and out on “coping.” Using the breath and the repetition keeps you in the moment and helps you from letting your mind wander.

Here’s one site

Google “mantra” for many other interesting sites.

Edit; Say your mantra slowly. Start by sitting quietly, eyes closed with your hands relaxed on the arms of the chair, palms up. If you can stay focused for five minutes, you’re on your way.

I use this technique in the doctor’s office, before I have my B/P taken.

This can be done anywhere except while driving.

choppersangel's avatar

Having read your question, I see that you don’t want to use the word ‘mantra’! Perhaps ‘affirmation’ might be more helpful? There is a lot of evidence (sorry, I don’t currently have references, but a simple goggle at google might provide) that repeating a simple message to yourself can actually have quite a profound effect, mentally, emotionally and physically.

It is up to you to decide what the words might be, especially as your circumstance sounds limiting. If you are dealing with a daily challenge, maybe keeping terms like ‘I can’ and ‘I will’ in your affirmation might help. The guidance for this approach to have real effect suggests that keeping your words in the present tense, using an active word and visualising what you imagine will all help. For instance, say you have to climb stairs and this is difficult, you might tell yourself as you go for them ‘I climb these stairs easily’, and give yourself a nod at each step completed.

I have MS and have used all kinds of affirmations over the years, to good effect. Whatever your circumstance now, by taking control and tellling yourself that you can, or you are, doing something well, it may well help to give you a sense of inner strength. It can also make you laugh at yourself, which I think is no bad thing!

Anyway, good luck with it!

Rubrica's avatar

A similar technique is something called E.F.T.. It sounds ridiculous until you try it, and it really does work wonders.

gailcalled's avatar

Calling something “spinach” doesn’t change the fact that it is really brocolli.

wundayatta's avatar

Using affirmations doesn’t work for me. In fact, it usually makes me feel worse because it isn’t doing what it is supposed to do.

Mantras, on the other hand, do work for me. There I’m not trying to change myself. I’m just allowing myself to be myself and not let my linguistic mind get in my way. That brings me back to what I think of as my core Wundayatta-ishness. Well, not think, because I’m not thinking in that way any more. But from this point I can act and it will be an authentic act, unmediated by my judgments and strategies and all that. It will be me doing what I do (want has nothing to do with it).

You never say what you are trying to accomplish, so I can’t say if this works in the way you are thinking about it or not. All I know is that it makes me feel better about being me, and more confident about doing what I do because I am no longer so fixed on what others think about me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Oh yes
I use ‘you deserve better’ all the time.

Cruiser's avatar

I repeat things I need to remember 10 times and still forget it!
Mnemonics works much better for me!

tedibear's avatar

@Cruiser – I’m not trying to remember something like a formula or the planets. This is something to help me deal with a reality in my life. However, when it comes to things I need to memorize, I love mnemonics!

downtide's avatar

They don’t work for me. Saying something over and over again doesn’t make it true. In fact they make me feel worse, for exactly that reason.

Cruiser's avatar

@tedibear I can’t remember what I had for lunch so I will wish you well with your task at hand! ;)

YARNLADY's avatar

No, the only mental exercise that works for me is counting backwards from 100 when I’m trying to get to sleep. The Ohm, ohm kind of meditation technique doesn’t work for me.

Visualizing what I want to accomplish does work for me. I also use a modified form of “EFT”: which leaves out all the body parts mumbo jumbo and focuses on the distraction/misdirection effect.

Megaperceptiva's avatar

I use that all the time. It does work for me all the time, now I was nominated to be on the Homecoming Court.

tedibear's avatar

@downtide – You’re right, repeating something doesn’t necessarily make it true. In this case, it’s already true and I’m trying to get used to it.

@gailcalled – at first I thought, “I’m not trying to stay calm so I don’t think this will work.” Now i realize that using that technique will help me stay focused. And potentially allow me to absorb the idea.

@Cruiser – It was a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, light on the mayo.

anartist's avatar

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can never really worked for me.

Jeruba's avatar

Yes. I don’t generally go in for autohypnotic affirmations, but there have been a couple of occasions when I’ve resorted to them, and they really did help. One time was to pump up my confidence when I retook my driving test after a failure. I was 40 and very nervous. My mantra was a simple “I can do this,” and I recited it aloud with every possible shade of inflection and emphasis while pacing on the sidewalk outside the DMV for about 20 minutes before my appointment.

Another was “If he can do it, I can do it,” which was how I got through the first hours of cold turkey when I quit smoking 21 years ago. The reference was to my young son, with whom I had discussed habits: “A habit is something you do all the time without thinking about it.” The conversation had gone like this:

“Sucking your thumb is a habit, isn’t it, Mum?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Smoking is a habit, too, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” I suddenly knew where this was going.
“Well, I quit sucking my thumb.”
“Yes, you did. That was good. It was hard, but you did it.”
“If I could quit sucking my thumb, you can quit smoking, can’t you, Mum?”

My five-year-old son was my inspiration. If he could do it, I could do it. And I did.

One other time, a painful time, was coming to terms with a disappointment that I knew was never going to be reversed. I just had to deal with it. I knew that the true source of my distress was my own expectations and not anyone else’s promises. I bought myself a small item of decoration that had special meaning to me and placed it where I could see it often, and every time I glanced at it, I said aloud, “Don’t expect things.” After about a year I think I made my peace with that one.

I also coach myself aloud when I’m faced with a challenge while driving—still a bit tough for me. Most commonly it’s just “Pay attention!”

gailcalled's avatar

You have to make a small effort to concentrate on not concentrating. Put yourself in a quiet, dark room in a comfortable armchair for five minutes, a small commitment but a commitment nonetheless.

Shut your eyes, turn your palms up and repeat your mantra (or whatever you want to call it). Coordinate the diaphram breathing.

I did this in connection with an eight-week mind-body course that I paid for. Forking over the money made it easier to try the exercise.

Gradually I increased the duration…sometimes my mind wandered down the road, but I always brought it back.

I use this technique at the dentist’s also. It becomes easier and easier with time.

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