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.
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.
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
*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