Questioning My Mantras

or What’s in a Can’t Chant?

What are mantras? How do they work? Why would I want to do mantras? Who benefits from them?

A mantra is a statement or slogan repeated frequently – like a buzzword, catchphrase, or slogan – usually intended for personal change. Behind every mantra hides a reason for its use – a secret “why” that, when explored can reveal something useful about the one employing it.

Until recently, I had this thought that mantras must be carefully constructed, that they pertain only to positive change, and that they are always “good.” Then, I looked at the structure of mantras and realized they are simply self-talk. I often accompany self-talk with body sensations and movements – like sighs, eye casts, muscle activity, and etc.

Can’t Chants in Self-Talk

Until I recognized what I was doing to myself, I continued a program of belief-supportive self-talk – “Can’t Chants.” These mantras sound a lot like this:

  • I can’t even think about eating that – I’ll gain 10 pounds! (…so shame on me for even thinking!)
  • Sigh, I can’t do anything right. (…so I can’t have what I want.)
  • You know I can’t do math. (…so I can’t go to school, get the job, and whatever else I want.)
  • There’s always more month than money. (…so can’t support myself.)
  • See! I was right! (…and so can’t consider alternatives.)

You may have some more – great! Add them to the list. Maybe you, too, have codified these into “Can’t Chants” that have the format, I can’t:

  • Be (what I want to be)
  • Do (what I want to do)
  • Have (what I want to have)

Let’s challenge these cause-effect mantras with questions intended to stir the brain to work with us – to act.

Question Beliefs!

Unquestioned beliefs tend to continue as is (Newton’s First Law of Motion). When you notice something you want to change in your life, that something is a belief that is ripe for change.

Let’s investigate our beliefs with a series of HOW questions that challenge the doing part of our cause-effect relationship mantras. Simply ask the question and allow your body to do the answering – sensation and intensity.

  1. In what ways is my perception wrong about this?
  2. How does this provide feedback for my mind and heart?
  3. In what ways does this mantra serve me?
  4. How might I perceive myself differently?

When your old cause-effect relationship “can’t chants” change turn into consciously directed mantras, you’ll begin to feel like you’re sliding down hill instead of working to fight your way up.

After challenging our first example chant above (I can’t even think about eating that – I’ll gain 10 pounds!”), eating well and exercising may begin to feel more like they come NATURALLY and EASILY – as though on automatic. You may find that the foods that used to pack on the pounds take on a foul taste. You might experience a drop in appetite. Maybe the exercises you were doing become more enjoyable or somebody shows up in your life to make that exercise more motivational.

Remember – what, how, and why you speak to yourself as you do affects EVERYTHING because it affects WHO you are. With some conscious attention, you CAN choose your mantras.

“Everything is as it is because I believe it that way.”

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