Affirmative self-talk engages the cognitive brain to calm the emotional brain. A mantra is a snippet of self-talk that conveys a deep meaning – in this case a reminder of who you are, your true identity. When you are in the midst of shame, doubting yourself, perhaps attacking yourself, repeat one or more of these mantras. A further tip: use a string of beads and say the mantra silently or aloud once for each bead.
This first group consists of positive affirmations. They ground you and contradict the inner critic. Some of the sources for these mantras are Henry Nouwen, C. S. Lewis, St. Paul, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Popeye.
Mantras – the Via Positiva
- I am a beloved Son / Daughter.
- I am chosen, blessed, broken and given.
- I am loved into existence in this very moment.
- I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.
- I am participating in the creative life of the universe.
- I am a miracle point where the universe is conscious of itself.
- I am me; for that I came.
- I am a singular expression of God.
- I alone am enough.
- I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam.
This second group consists of merciful affirmations. They relieve you of the private ego’s burden of earning love through excelling and open space for flaws and failure. Sources here are Leonard Cohen, Nouwen, Jesus of Nazareth and Richard Rohr.
Mantras – the Via Negativa
- There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.
- We are all broken people.
- I do not have to earn or prove my worthiness.
- I am an imperfect creature in an imperfect world.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- My suffering is the suffering of God.
- I can drink the cup of suffering and joy.
- I do not have to exclude the darkness.
- When we hold together the opposites, we will always be crucified.
- God is going to resurrect something – I don’t know what – out of this suffering.
The Heart Turned Within
My understanding of the differential nuances of self-compassion, self-mercy and self-love, which are often used interchangeably, is as follows:
- Self-compassion – is a form of mindfulness, an extended awareness that I am suffering without adding blame or shame. It is being with oneself in a consoling, tender way. It is not excuse-making, but giving oneself the benefit of the doubt and seeing the wound instead of imagining evil.
- Self-mercy – is a form of grace, letting the heart soften and handing out (in) some unmerited goodness – “cutting a break” to oneself, “taking a mulligan,” allowing a “do-over,” or simply, forgiving oneself. It always draws on God’s infinite mercy.
- Self-love – is a recognition and acceptance of one’s own dignity, preciousness and unity with God and all things. It is like empathy for someone loving you, without protest, “I am not worthy!” Self-esteem and positive self-image have the same meaning.