In Discover Your Passion, Uncategorized, What's Holding You Back?

Unless you have a meditation practice, you might think you don’t have one.  We generally associate mantras and meditation.  In Hinduism a mantra is a word or sound you repeat like a prayer.  In current usage it can be an oft-repeated phrase or truism.

You have a mantra if you say:

I’m the kind of person who… (fill in the blank)

  • Can never lose weight
  • Can never get a break
  • Can’t learn things quickly
  • Can’t get along with…
  • Would make a lousy employee, boss,
  • Never has enough money
  • Is always late
  • And so on….  Always and never, always and never (you fill in the blanks)

The more we reinforce labels about ourselves, the truer they become. Out of all the mantras I hear people say about themselves, most of them are negative.

So what makes us repeat over and over a negativemantra of who we think we are?

They say human beings only do what we think serves us, so how does a negative mantra serve us?

Negative mantras allows us to hide. They allow us to avoid responsibility.  A negative mantra is a defense we use when we don’t want to change, even when the situation calls for change, even if a change would make us happier!  Because change might make us look inept or foolish as we try new attitudes and behaviors.

I’m the kind of person who… says: the world must accommodate me, just the way I am.  Don’t expect me to experiment with more effective behaviors.  Don’t you dare suggest I see myself in a different way.

Mantras allow us to feel comfortable, justified, dare I say righteous, in doing nothing or in repeating a self-defeating pattern.  We get to reconfirm our beliefs about who we are and most people would rather be right than happy.

I’ve worked with people who have mantras about money, time, social media, relationships and a host of other things.  I’ve seen how a belief repeated in a mantra influences our actions, and then our actions create responses in others that confirm our belief.

How can I recognize a mantra?  I’ve had a number of doozies myself, so I know for sure how limiting they are AND how important it is to break them.

How do you break the viciousness of a negative mantra?

When you find yourself saying, I’m the kind of person who…

Get curious.

  • What benefit does stance or belief give you?
  • If the opposite were true, what would be the benefits and risks?
  • What would you have to change?

Let me know what you discover.  Until next Tuesday.




Showing 4 comments
  • Bob Mathews

    Interesting perspective. I am sure I have some negative mantras as well, but the thing that came to mind was about my health. Not something I say, but something I feel – I just feel healthy. I feel my body will fix itself – when it gets cut, when it aches after a workout, etc. In order to believe this I have to support my body in its efforts, so I eat healthy, I exercise. sometimes I fall down in some aspect – didn’t run while on vacation, eat something unhealthy – then my ‘mantra’/feelings get me back on track quickly.
    Thanks, as always, for making me think.

    • elizabeth

      You are right we all do have some negative mantras – we just have to catch ourselves saying them and then stop! Regarding your feeling healthy. You may not be saying something out loud or consciously but obviously your body is getting the message. It’s your belief that stimulates the behavior that makes your belief true – that’s what mantras do. So if you get off track your belief (mantra) that you ARE healthy gets you back on quickly.

      Thanks for writing and good for you.

  • Janet M. Morgan

    I have been a meditator for many years. Passage based meditation as taught by Eknath Easwaran. I use Rama, Rama, Rama as my ‘official mantram which I repeat all the time – to calm down, to get back my focus, to remain patient. In addition I just go around saying Joy, Joy, Joy for no apparent reason.

    • elizabeth

      Thanks Janet!
      I have used Eknath Easwaran as well, but the St. Francis Prayer. Love joy joy joy

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