Amidst the pandemic, each of us has encountered unique challenges and stressors. While the economic, mental, and emotional difficulties are real — and there’s no easy “fix” or escape — how we view our experience can make a big difference. In fact, science tells us that what we tell ourselves in challenging moments matters. Even one negative word can activate the fear center of the brain and impact our ability to reason. On the contrary, empowering or perspective-shifting words or phrases can help us reframe and course-correct from stress in real time.
We asked our Thrive community to share with us the mantras that are helping them stay optimistic and resilient during this time. Which of these will you try?
“I don’t break, I bend.”
“The mantra, ‘I don’t break, I bend’ has helped me remain resilient over the course of the last few months. This mantra reminds me that I am flexible, adaptable, and unshakeable in the face of adversity. When fear creeps in, I am reminded that I can handle it and will not fall victim to it. When I’m having a bad day, I write this on a sticky note and stick it on my monitor to help keep me going.”
—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO
“Clear on the outcomes, flexible on the approach.”
“For the past fifteen years, I have lived by a simple but powerful mantra. During the pandemic, this mantra has resonated more than ever before. Everything from working to exercising to raising children has been upended. Staying focused on critical outcomes — for example, quarterly revenue goals, health benchmarks, and educational goals for children — is critical. You might not be able to approach your goals as you did in the past, but it doesn’t mean you can’t keep reaching and exceeding your goals. Shifting focus from uncertainty to outcomes is a great way to reclaim efficacy.”
—Dr. Camille Preston, business psychology at AIM Leadership, Cambridge, MA
“Trust the process.”
“My family members are all huge basketball fans. I am more of a casual basketball observer. Even though I am not a loyalist, I am a fan of the 76ers motto, ‘Trust the process.’ It has become my go-to affirmation during this time. Although there will continue to be uncertainty, I believe having patience, faith, hope and trusting the process will help us grow and rebuild.”
—Monique Johnson, nonprofit COO, Richmond, VA
“I am not alone in this.”
“In these high stress moments, I sometimes get momentarily lost in the personal challenges COVID-19 has created for me. In those moments, I try to shift my focus by repeating the following mantra: ‘I am not alone in this.’ I remind myself that there are so many others who are facing greater challenges through this pandemic. It gives me perspective, and helps me feel grateful that I am able to manage my challenges.”
—Marcia J. Hylton, corporate marketing strategist, El Paso, TX
“My mantra that I like to repeat to myself is ‘Warrior.’ I keep telling myself that I am a warrior and I’m strong enough to face any adversity that comes my way. When anything happens, I ask myself: ‘How would a warrior behave in this scenario?’ It’s a simple way of getting yourself into the right frame of mind to face any challenge!”
—Celia Gaze, managing director, Bolton, UK
“Live right. Be worthy. Make a difference.”
“Resilience is a journey of grace and forgiveness — for myself and others. This phrase helps me feel grounded, hold myself accountable, reinforce my dedication to serving others, and know that we are all worthy of love. It’s been my go-to mantra throughout this time.”
—Elizabeth Blackney, activist, Williamsburg, VA
“Turn fear into fuel.”
“I use this mantra as a reminder to myself that being scared is not a reason not to do something that could be productive, interesting, or put myself or my business in forward motion. And the added bonus is that if it is something I need to say this about, then typically I am that much more proud of the accomplishment when it’s done.”
—Suzy Haber Wakefield, apparel design consultant, Montclair, NJ
“I am the hero of my own life.”
“This is the title of a guided journal by Brianna Wiest, and repeating this mantra reminds me to always focus on what I can control, rather than what I can’t. It reminds me that nearly everything is in my hands and that I can choose to respond to whatever I’m faced with however I want. It also reminds me to consistently demand the best for myself: whether that’s how I spend my time, the projects I say yes to, or the people I work with. It reminds me not to settle for ordinary or to hold back when I know I have something worthwhile to contribute.”
—Jodie Cook, social media agency owner, UK
“Small progress is still progress.”
“Working in senior living and healthcare, this has been the mantra I’ve been living by during the pandemic. These are words of encouragement for those who have struggled. Our landscape has changed each day, often hour to hour, and everyone has brought something to the table to provide some hope and stability to our residents and families.”
—Tamara White, training and education partner, Kitchener, ON, Canada
“Whenever I start feeling out of sorts, triggered, or anxious, I remind myself to breathe. I then immediately start focusing on my breath, and with awareness, my breath automatically starts to change; it starts deepening and becomes fuller. This mantra is my reminder to expand on consciously deepening my breath. I stay in the moment, breathing in and out, which calms my body and mind, and grounds me. It works every time.”
—Donna Melanson, yoga teacher, Boca Raton, FL
“I have wisdom within.”
“One phrase that I have found powerful during this time has been ‘I have wisdom within.’ This small mantra reminds me daily to slow down the mind chatter and tune into the knowledge base that exists in my bones. It has been so powerful that I have shared it with friends as a way to remind ourselves to tune in and listen, versus tune out and give our power away.”
—Dr. Tricia Wolanin, clinical psychologist and community wellness consultant , Bury St. Edmunds, UK
“You are already everything that you want to be.”
“When I wake up in the morning, the first words that come out of my mouth are ‘You are already everything that you want to be.’ It’s my belief that most of us tend to want things from a place of lack which only attracts more lack. Knowing and stating that I already have what I want takes desperation out of the equation. It always helps me reframe.”
—Wemi Opakunle, author and coach, Los Angeles, CA
Do you have a go-to mantra that helps you stay resilient in difficult situations? Share it with us in the comments.
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