Coping Strategy: 365 Days of writing affirmations or mantras

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a statement of positive intention.  It can be a phrase, a sentence, a group of sentences, or a quotation.

What is a mantra?

A mantra is a phrase, statement, slogan, or quotation that can be repeated frequently.  It can be used for comfort, inspiration, support, a renewal of faith, etc.

Why both instead of one or the other?

Both words have similar uses that can be hard to distinguish sometimes.  Affirmations can be used as mantras.  A mantra (whole or parts) can be used as an affirmation.  Since I can’t tell what category mine go into, I write out my intention and then decide if it’s a mantra or an affirmation later.

Inspiration comes from?

  • Other bloggers – So many bloggers are creating their own or sharing inspiring affirmations that I decided to be brave and try writing mine down too
  • Tara Brach – Understanding grief & loss, coping or healing through faith, meditation, and communication – I personally like her free “Tara’s Talks” videos
  • Pema Chodron – Lessons in spiritual resilience, faith (whether or not you are Buddhist), meditation, and compassion (loving kindness and mindfulness meditations)
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn – Mindfulness meditation to help with pain, stress, and other uncomfortable feelings through Harvard Medical School
  • Brene Brown – lessons in authentic living, shame, resilience, and vulnerability
  • Deirdre Fay’s classes – affirmations as part of meditation or breathing techniques to help cope with trauma
  • other self-help books – The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook was the second self-help book that helped me start making sense of the coping challenges and learn how to use affirmations even if I didn’t believe in them at the time.  My other favorite self-help and coping strategy books are on Pinterest if you want to look there too, but beware I also have some personal boards up there.  You might learn more than you care to about me…
  • Louise Hay – her affirmations helped me through some of my darkest moments; I’m grateful for the person who introduced me to her writing way back in the first years of my recovery journey

How does it help so far?

  • The affirmation or mantra sets my intention for the day
  • Makes my thoughts concrete and visible to anyone who reads it
  • Reminds me to feel gratitude and practice what I’ve learned to help cope no matter how I feel at the time
  • Gives me a place to visit and remember positive thoughts when my mind decides to go blank
  • Teaches me patience, consistency, perseverance, and follow-through on my goals and objectives
  • Let’s me practice self-kindness and self-compassion when I make mistakes by not writing down an affirmation or mantra every day

But 365 days?  Why?

Yes, 365 days or approximately 1 year.  It’s time for me to expand my boundaries and try to do this in spite of the triggers that stopped me in the past.  Plus this is an activity that all parts of me can participate in, remember, go back to, and enjoy together.  We are all involved and motivated to succeed.  This gives us all a better chance at accomplishing our goal.

Other thoughts

Some people will tell you that affirmations are crap or bs or (my personal favorite) hogwash.  You can’t change your life with positive affirmations.  And even if you can, how can you say them and have faith if you are in a negative mindset?  Or you have a negative self-image?  Or, like people in group once said, maybe these things can happen for other people, but not for me because I’m not worthy.

Maybe that’s true for some people.  It was sort of true for me back when I first started listening to people talk about the power of positive thinking, etc.  But then I tried looking at the concept from other perspectives. 

I started reading other affirmations to try to understand what made them positive or inspirational or meaningful. What was a mantra, and how did it relate to affirmations?  Because many people preferred using mantras instead, I wondered if it was language that made the difference.  Language as in how words are perceived by the dominant culture around us.  Later, I wondered if these affirmations and mantras were like prayers.  Instead of going directly to God, they were spoken as a gesture of faith in a higher power or to whatever religious deity the people believed in.

Questioning my spiritual path

That’s when I dropped the word “positive” and kept affirmations.  Also why I prefer “mantras” to “prayers” even though I do pray every night and every morning.  And if I time traveled back to the moment when I was choosing a religion, I’d probably be Jewish because that was the faith that brought me the most love and comfort in childhood.

Maybe some day I will be able to visit a Synagogue without crying – it’s been almost 30 years, and I still miss my Uncle Teddy.  And so I pray.  I practice compassion and gratitude through meditation and random acts of kindness.  I collect prayers, quotes, affirmations, and mantras that connect with my spirit.  Finally, I write my own affirmations and mantras.  Maybe someday I’ll share them here too.

Lessons Learned

And I learned that affirmations, mantras, and prayers all have a few things in common:

  • They share hope for a different outcome
  • They open people up to different possibilities and choices
  • They bring comfort during times of stress or overwhelming sensations
  • They are not always positive
  • They can be as simple as one word or as complicated as a poem
  • They work as long as the one speaking/writing them believes
  • They are the wishes and foundations for everyday miracles in life

Your Choice

*Like most tings in life, you get out of affirmations and mantras what you put into them.*

If you want to try one, why not pick a quote or phrase that is meaningful to you and repeat it once a day for a set time period.  At the end of that time period, reflect on how you feel and if anything has changed between then and now.  Then decide for yourself if you want to continue using them.

Thanks for reading

Resources: Another Author Round-up with a Twist

In the past, I’ve shared some of my favorite contemporary authors who write romance, science fiction, and/or fantasy – mostly skewed towards female or male/female partnership authors – or self-help books.  But I never shared many of my favorite male authors or other types of books – books that taught me many valuable life lessons.

That comes from the scared parts of me who fear sharing such an important cornerstone even with close friends and family.  I am an absolute nerd when it comes to books and have a love affair with ancient/classic stories (before and during the time of Shakespeare) along with early American authors.

And so, many of my favorite male authors come from these categories.  A lot of them still carry memories, so I listen for free on Podcasts or borrow from the library.

If you are interested, here is a short list:

Classic Greek/Roman

  • Euripedes – comedies and tragedies
  • Aristophanes – comedies and tragedies
  • Homer – Oddessy & Iliad
  • Aesop – book of fables

British across many periods

  • Bede – Anglo/Saxon mythology or creation stories
  • Chaucer – A Knight’s tale and other poems
  • John Donne – beautiful sonnets and poetry
  • George Bernard Shaw – not usually a fan of politics or plays, but his are short, interesting.  I actually did my senior thesis paper on his take of Antony & Cleopatra.

American across many periods

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Mark Twain
  • Walt Whitman
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Robert Frost

Youth (mostly within the last 4 decades)

  • Dr. Seuss
  • Donald J. Sobol
  • Sid Fleishman
  • Rick Riordan

As you can see, these books range from fiction to non-fiction, children to adult, and poetry.

What do you think this says about me?  And does it bring up any secret parts in you that might want to be heard?

For me, I’m starting to read these books and enjoy them again – this time without the past shading my experience.

Thanks for reading

DID Posts: Missing my book collection

With memories coming back and alters being more active, I miss my physical book collection.  Many of the books I kept are about DID and dissociation.  They helped fill in the information gaps between visits to my therapist.  The books also helped me be able to explain some issues to people at work so that I could get accommodation and assistance with communication problems.

But I had to leave them with family last summer.  My apartment was too small, and I didn’t plan in advance – needed more boxes to ship the books – well enough.  No one in  the system thought it would be too big an issue.  We felt safe and stable enough to not have those resources at hand.  And there are many more bookstores where I live now than where I lived before.

Should have been easy to borrow from the library or find a book to read at a bookstore, correct?  Well, not so much when the topic is Dissociative Identity Disorder.  I found some books from the library.

But now I’m having trouble reading them.

Not sure what’s holding me back.

But maybe (I hope) this weekend I will get to one of them.

Thanks for reading.

 

Quotes & Affirmations: Changing the Conversations in my head

I started book binging earlier than normal this holiday weekend.  The books helped distract me from the pain – I hate taking pain pills – and work through some tough flashbacks from the last few days.  Plus I like this author and have some of her books in my electronic library.

All of us were looking for a good read about strong people working their way out of tough or unusual situations – learning to trust and feel safe again; finding family and real friends; and of course some kind of positive resolution to the plot conflict – and her books sometimes do this.

So this quote is from Thea Harrison’s book Night’s Honor.  It’s part of a series, but can be read as a stand-alone book.

I don’t have a fancy graphic for you, but will do my best to make it look interesting:

he said, “To get to where Marc or Jeremy is, you have to change the conversations in your head.

She frowned uneasily.  “What do you mean?”

“When you face confrontation, you have to decide if whether you live or die is part of the agenda. Either you fight to survive, and that’s your goal, or you fight to put your opponent down, no matter what the cost.  Those are two different conversations, and the decision for them has to come from here.”  He tapped her on her breast bone with the back of his knuckles.  “That basic choice affects your capacity to act in the world.  You can train as much as you like, but you won’t ever become what they are until you decide to.”

One of the lead secondary characters, Raoul, is talking to the female lead, Tess, about her choice to train in martial arts, physical fitness, and other aspects of being a Vampyre’s (author’s spelling) attendant in his master’s house.

She joined the house, not because she likes vampyres or that world, but because she needs the safety and protection that comes with being a member of that type of household.

In fact, Tess is afraid of vampyres and struggles with acclimating to the new demands of her job – giving blood, accepting a vampyre;s bite, self-defense training, etiquette training, etc. – and is feeling frustrated during this conversation.

Why share it?

This quote, and the whole book, reminded me that people can change the conversations in their heads.  I’m struggling with a lot of negative self-talk and flashbacks of past conversations with family and abusers.  It leaves me waking up from a nap with my mouth wide open like I’ve been screaming.  Only sometimes, it feels more like I’m struggling to get something out of my mouth.  Or someone is holding my mouth open as I struggle to close it.

And we all needed a good reminder.   Luckily, this reminder also came with examples of how Tess changed the conversations in her head.  And in doing so, she found her courage, strength, and heart.  Tess took steps to change her life and start living again.  She reminded me to do the same.

Maybe this quote will help you too.

Thanks for reading.