Anyone who is familiar to personal development knows the unfortunate secret that there is no finish line. Finding lasting happiness and success is not something you just arrive at, and then stay there. It is a daily task of building and strengthening good habits—particularly the habits that keep up your positivity. The more you are able to reinforce thoughts and behaviors that empower you, the more momentum you build toward a truly happy and unbreakable spirit. Terry refers to this process as emotional stacking and it is a truly powerful idea that can yield incredible results.
Really, the overarching goal here is to get you into a mindset where you feel great about yourself, and feel you can accomplish anything you set your sights on. If this sounds unattainable to you, it is probably because you have built up (or stacked) a different narrative in your head. You have spent time molding your idea of yourself into something with less potential. The good news is that this is reversible. You can begin to tell yourself a different story and there are many different ways to do so.
Let’s begin by talking about mantras. Simply put, mantras are phrases you say over and over to yourself. They are used often in meditation or other spiritual rituals. For our purposes, however, a mantra is simply a phrase you repeat to yourself over and over. This is a tool that will allow us to program our thoughts in specific ways.
Using Mantras to Boost Positivity
When creating a mantra, what you want is to craft a phrase, or a handful of phrases, that provide a positive benefit when spoken. You are in essence trying to bring focus to any idea or memory that makes you feel something positive. You want to change your mood in a positive way. Once you have a phrase in mind, you repeat it to yourself for a while. (Terry recommends 15 minutes per day.) Do this out loud, and in an effusive and passionate way. Do not simply mumble your words, counting down the minutes until it’s over.
You want to sort of ramp up emotionally when you perform a mantra. The reason for this is that the more you associate happy feelings with your mantra, the more power the mantra will have. You want to be able to use the mantra as an anchor for theses positive feelings. Any time you utter your special phrase, these good feelings should show up right away.
You are dialing in a reaction, teaching your mind and body how to respond to the mantra. It really helps to have some control over your reactions this way. Without an intervention of this type, you may become overwhelmed by your feelings when you come into an uncomfortable situation. The mantra allows you to take back control over your emotional state.
What Should I say?
Let me walk you through an example. One mantra I have used in the past is, “I have gotten through every obstacle I have ever faced; I am unstoppable.” I chose these phrases because I wanted to give myself a stronger sense of confidence. I am one who naturally tends to get caught up in overthinking and self-doubt, so it is important for me to take time and remember that I have gotten through many a tough time, and am fully capable of getting through whatever may come.
Now, here is something really interesting. When I wrote the first draft of this article, I wrote, “When coming up with a phrase for your mantra, it is important that you pick something you actually believe. When I say to myself, ‘I have gotten through every obstacle I have ever faced,’ it really serves to remind me of the truth.” I thought a mantra had to be something true, something you already believed. Terry opened my eyes up to something more important.
Mantras Provide Direction
You actually don’t have to fully believe in what you say when you do a mantra—yet! If you are really in the dumps, and looking to climb out, it will probably be difficult to find empowering things to say about yourself. But if you practice saying positive things, it will have a positive effect! This will happen regardless of how you feel in the beginning because what the mantra does is set you toward a better direction. When it comes to taking care of yourself, where you are is less important than where you are going. If you want to transform, you have to start somewhere and reciting a mantra is a truly great starting point!
A Real Life Example
I am CONFIDENT
The day after Terry taught me that mantras don’t necessarily have to be something you believe, I decided to try out a new mantra. As I mentioned earlier, I am not the most confident person in the world. But in keeping up with Terry’s ideas, I decided to try out the mantra, “I am confident.” During the day, I went to a coffee shop, and every time I felt any feelings of shyness or discomfort (which are things you feel almost all the time if you are an introvert like me, out in public), I told myself, “I am confident.” Obviously, I didn’t do it aloud this time because there were people around but even doing it in my head made a big impact.
See, what happens when you do a mantra is you are programming your brain, which changes your experience as you move through your day. The things you tell yourself will manifest in your life. If I go around thinking about how shy I am every time I get tense in public, I am going to think, See, look how shy I am. Conversely, if I keep telling myself I am confident, every time I find myself feeling comfortable around strangers, I am going to think, See, I told you I was confident! It really is an incredible experience to see your thoughts become manifested in the world, which is what happened to me in the coffee shop that day. Even though I walked in feeling tense and uncomfortable, I walked out of there feeling completely secure—all because I told myself, “I am confident!”
It is not at all a stretch to say that 15 minutes of mantras can completely change how you feel. I have experienced over and over the transformation. I can be totally down when I begin a mantra, but come out of it feeling revitalized.
Now imagine the effects of doing that on a regular basis for months, years. The mantra will become ingrained in your mind. After a few weeks of practice, the transformation that used to take place in 15 minutes will become instantaneous.
In my case, I won’t have to spend 15 minutes trying to convince myself that I am capable of dealing with my problems anymore—because I have spent weeks doing just that! The second I feel any sort of tension or unease, the mantra will just pop right up in my head. The weeks of mantras will have been a way of training my mind to respond with confidence!
More Ways to Stack Positivity
With mantras, we are trying to just constantly remind ourselves of good feelings. What other ways can we accomplish this?
Waking up on the Right Side of the Bed
Here is a little trick that makes a big difference. Tomorrow morning, before you leave your bed, think of three things you are looking forward to. You might say, “Today, I am looking forward to my morning coffee, the Fall weather, and going for a run.” Not only will this give you a little boost of excitement right at the beginning of the day, but it will actually make you even happier when you come across these things later on! It is almost like setting a reminder for yourself to enjoy those things as you come across them.
When I do this exercise, I find that I actually appreciate my morning coffee even more. I take an extra long breath as I step out of my home just to breathe in the cool Fall air—an extra couple seconds of appreciation. Without taking that time in the morning to reflect on life’s goodness, I may have started the day just thinking about all my problems and worries, forgetting about how much I enjoy running, or how much I love the Fall! By constantly reminding ourselves of the things we are grateful for, it makes us actually appreciate them more in the moment, leading to elevated levels of happiness throughout the day.
Reward Yourself for the Little Victories!
It Is OK To Reward Yourself
Another small change you can make is to remember to reward yourself. Most of us of have really inflated definitions of success, which cause us to forget to reward ourselves for the smaller victories. If, for example, you have a goal to lose ten pounds, please remember to take a second to reward yourself every time you eat a healthy meal or go to the gym. It does not need to be anything big. Just take a couple seconds to yourself and say, I did it. I took care of business today. You should feel good when you make progress toward a goal. Take the time to make sure you do.
To achieve something big, you will need to be fueled by encouragement and positive reinforcement. You should not be putting yourself down for not yet arriving at where you want to be. The more you praise yourself for the work you do, the more likely you will be to continue doing that work, and the more likely it will be that you actually persist long enough to achieve your goal.
Make a List of Your Favorite Memories
One final activity you can do is to make a list of your favorite memories. This will only take about twenty minutes, and should serve to put you in a very positive state, reminding you of the happiness that is possible in this life. You will snap out of the monkey mind that is constantly worried, and instead become focused on what life can be. The benefits that come from this activity will flow over into all areas of your life. You will make better decisions. You will be kinder to people, which will lead to stronger relationships and more opportunities. Failure will roll right off of you—because you are focused on more important things.
Take Back Your Positivity
What all of these tasks have in common is that they stack positive emotions, leaving you feeling better about yourself and your life. When you feel good, you feel like you can achieve anything. It is unfortunate that we are not wired to be this way automatically, that we tend to get focused on the immediate problems and worries. But if you take the time and effort to stack your positive emotions, you will find a well of happy energy most people spend their lives searching for.
Create your own mantra! This can just be one phrase or a series of phrases. The important thing is that it makes you feel empowered and confident, even if it is not yet true. Think about what you want to be and where you want to end up, then create a mantra that hones in on what it will feel like to achieve that.
If you want to be more attractive, tell yourself “I am attractive as hell. Everyone notices me.” If you want to be more successful, say “I am the most successful person in the world.” Just saying these things is going to make you feel good, and your brain will start pulling in memories that validate your mantra. This is just how the brain works: it will look for reasons to support why what you are saying is the truth.
Remember to keep pursuing a mantra that makes you just feel good all over. If you have to try a couple different phrases, so be it. Just find one that works!
Find a space where you can say this mantra aloud for fifteen minutes (perhaps in your car on your way to work). When you say it aloud, really put feeling into it. Believe it. Practice this everyday for a week and notice how it affects your state. Some examples:
“I can handle anything and everything. I am unstoppable.”
“I am all love. I can gift this love to anyone and everyone. I am warm, I am peaceful, and love will be the result of everything I do.”
“I will be calm and enjoy my life. I do not have to solve every single problem that comes my way.”
Ready for another challenge? Click here to read our previous article on Self-Talk and NLP Basics
Seth Wood is a former client of Terry Anthony, and the Editor of Terry’s book, Mastering Relationships.