Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption

Adopt a Positive Mantra

by Rochelle Melander

Always remember, your focus determines your reality.

– George Lucas

Have you noticed the pop-up trend online? Many websites feature pop-up windows that invite the user to sign up for a newsletter or a coupon. This pop-up phenomenon reminds me of my brain. When I’m writing, taking care of my family, or taking a walk, negative thoughts pop up and distract me. More often than not, these thoughts aren’t helpful—they’re negative, persistent, and distracting.

I’m not alone. Many of my clients and colleagues report the same phenomenon—negative messages assailing them especially when they are focused on important work.

In Tibetan Buddhism, practitioners use a mind-training tool called Lojong or slogan practice to extend compassion to themselves, others, and the world throughout the day. Lojong includes 59 slogans on a variety of themes. According to Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, Lojong practice helps us see the challenging aspects of life as opportunities to awaken our compassion. Throughout the day, the practitioner focuses on a single mantra to help them let go of disturbing thoughts and focus on more generative beliefs. Once a slogan becomes rooted in our belief system, the practitioner moves onto the next one.

In Habit Changers: 82 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals, author and executive coach M. J. Ryan introduces mantras that help the modern reader adapt this practice to address common negative patterns. According to Ryan, our brains conserve energy by adopting “habits of thinking and acting.” These habits drive our behavior. Ryan created each of the one-liners to help readers override the automatic thoughts and habits and act purposefully.

Lojong practice or habit changers can help us replace negative thoughts a little bit at a time. I’ve appreciated the mantras Rose created for her book. Now when I feel worried that I haven’t accomplished enough, I repeat the mantra, “You are where you’re supposed to be.” When I compare myself to other writers, I say, “Walk your own path.” And when I have trouble knowing what to choose or how to spend my time, I say, “Trust your inner GPS.”

The Quest

In this quest, you will choose one negative persistent thought and create a new mantra to replace it.

Choose a Thought

Choose the negative thought that bothers you most right now, possibly one that surfaces repeatedly.

Create a Mantra

Create a one-line mantra that you can use to replace this thought. Here are some examples:

  • Instead of No one will buy this story, try I trust that the right editor is waiting to read my story or I trust that this story will find a home.
  • Instead of I’ll never finish this project, try One step at a time.
  • Instead of I don’t know enough to write this, try I know just enough to write the next part.

Repeat the Mantra

Repeat the phrase at set times throughout the day, especially when the negative thought appears. You might tie this mantra to your creative process and repeat it before and after your writing session.

Note: This tip is adapted from my book Level Up. For the whole experience, get the book!

Leave a Reply