What Message Plays In Your Head, and Did You Choose It?
December 8, 2004 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a mantra/motto/mission statement/internal worry stone? [M.I.]

Last night I realized I have a little phrase I say over and over again to myself. It is, and I wish I were kidding, “I am fuckin’ stupid.” I’ve been aware of it before, but last night it was clearer than it’s ever been. And yes, I know too well that I have a self-esteem problem. I want to take control of this negative thought and turn it into something, well, better.

I talked to my husband about it, and asked him if he repeated anything to himself. He said that when he’s walking somewhere in a hurry, he thinks the words to “My Favorite Things” because the clear ¾ time helps him keep pace. He’s obviously a much more positive person than I am!

What message plays in your head? Did you choose it or did it just appear? Do you believe you can control your outlook/emotions like this?
posted by katie to Religion & Philosophy (80 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Serenity now! Serenity now! Serenity NOW!!
posted by picea at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2004

And excellent question to be asked on Bodhi Day.

I don't have an answer. The only time I find myself repeating a phrase is when I am worried about something. "please let ____ be alright, Please let ____ be alright." I don't even consider it a prayer (see link above), but as a way of keeping myself focused. This seems to be the same thing you are talking about. So why not pick something positive, and just think it? Maybe something already widely used?
posted by terrapin at 12:34 PM on December 8, 2004

Don't think so. I just work over the thoughts in my head over and over again and as I get less concerned about the worrisome issue, my thoughts wander to unrelated topics.

Though when I'm working really hard on something creative, I feel like I can hear a cacophony of sounds.
posted by jragon at 12:34 PM on December 8, 2004

I have 2. My Mantra is "Hail Mary full of Grace........" used as child when scared shitless. Have fatal disease now (ALS) and mantra still works. Motto: Luctor et Emergo.. struggle and emerge. I control my emotions using mantra combined with whole whack of anti-depressants.

posted by Ranger03 at 12:36 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

I use music as my mantra. I listen to it almost everywhere I go (thank God for portable cd/mp3 players!), but I do believe you can control your thoughts/emotions. I talked myself out of deep depression (suicidal thoughts daily) with the help of a Dr. Seuss poem. I've been depression-free for 3 1/2 years now.
posted by LunaticFringe at 12:38 PM on December 8, 2004

I'm extremely cheesy and invoke the cliched "If life hands you lemons, you make lemonade." I am constantly made aware how viable a a mantra, I guess, this is on a day-to-day basis. In both grand and petit proportions.
It makes things bearable to affirm to myself that there is something I can do about any situation that it may not seem like I have any control over.
posted by mnology at 12:43 PM on December 8, 2004

When I ran long-distance, I would hum the first movement of Bach's second suite for the 'cello. Or the 1st of Haydn's cello concertos. They're mind-numbingly repetitive (in a lovely way) and good for, uh, mind-numbing activities. Other than that, I sometimes try to make to-do lists in my brain, and always fail. (Lunatic Fringe comments on the internet: green posts and spam!)
posted by metaculpa at 12:44 PM on December 8, 2004

Lunatic Fringe comments on the internet: green posts and spam!

Hee hee....spam....

Spam, spam, eggs and spam?
posted by LunaticFringe at 12:50 PM on December 8, 2004

It just doesn't matter!
posted by Otis at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2004

My mantra has always been 'Personal Responsibility' - taking responsibility for yourself and your actions is key for me.

I feel a bit obnoxious saying this in light of the other comments here, but my recurring internal theme is probably 'Thank you universe for giving me this most incredible partner/home/community/car/life/whatever!'. I find myself thinking a version of this thought just about every day, and I well up with gratitude just thinking about it - my cup runneth over.

It wasn't always like this, though - I was unhappily married for 4 years and my thoughts then were more like 'Everything in my life is such a struggle and I don't see a way out'.

I really hope you're able to change that mantra, katie, I know how damaging a negative internal dialog can be. I hope my comment shows you that it is possible to change it. Best of luck to you!
posted by widdershins at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2004

I keep telling myself it's never to late to have a happy childhood.
posted by bondcliff at 12:58 PM on December 8, 2004

I struggle against negative internal "mantras" as well, usually involving things I tell myself I should be doing (and am presently not doing, and am therefore a bad person) and/or the disastrous things that will result of the things I'm not doing (and am therefore facing a bleak future).

To actively combat this tendency, I've learned to identify these moments and replace them with variations on a more positive and -- this is key, for me -- more realistic mantra: "whatever happens, I am able to handle it." I also allow myself more to think about the specifics of what I enjoy and to set my internal priorities based on that, rather than what I think I should be doing.
posted by scody at 12:58 PM on December 8, 2004

Mine is...

Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!
posted by aurigus at 12:58 PM on December 8, 2004

katie, great question. We are the narratives we spin inside.

I won't tell my 'mantra', but I will say that my current internal narrative is different from the negative one I had years ago. I set out to change the tape loop, as you've said you'd like to do, and I did. There was no magic or medication or therapy. It was pure Behavior 101. I forced myself to listen for it (as you seem to be doing) and when I 'heard' it, I stopped, body and brain, to acknowledge that that was NOT what I wanted to hear about myself from anyone, most of all, me. I literally thought a new (pre-planned) thought/mantra and repeated it inside (and sometimes, out loud) over and over. And like so much else in life, at first it didn't fit, I felt like an Oprah acolyte. But the more I tried it on, broke it in inside my brain, the more it became mine. And now it is. It's process, like everything else, and it can work if you commit to it. It's not everyone who even 'hears' it, even rarer to ask how it can be changed. Good luck.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:07 PM on December 8, 2004 [2 favorites]

posted by grouse at 1:07 PM on December 8, 2004

Do you believe you can control your outlook/emotions like this?

Yes, absolutely. The things that you say to yourself will, over time, influence your general outlook and beliefs. The process is slow but definite, like water on a rock.

Do you have a mantra/motto/mission statement/internal worry stone?

You just have to find things that resonate with you.

For me, when I'm stressed I tend to say (internally): "I'm the calm, zen center of my world".

Now I'm not into zen and I wouldn't know the Buddha from Santa Claus, so I don't know where I picked this up. But I like it because it reorients my perspective, and reminds me that it's my world I'm dealing with; whatever may be going on outside me, the only thing that I can control, and the only thing that really matters to me, is how I respond to events. Everything else that happens emanates from that choice. But I always get to choose how I will perceive and interpret the world. Nothing else is real.
posted by gd779 at 1:07 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

Oh, forgot to mention The Four Most Beautiful Words In The English Language (when shit happens):

posted by widdershins at 1:09 PM on December 8, 2004

This is a great question.
posted by orange clock at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2004

I am surrounded by idiots.


posted by mzurer at 1:12 PM on December 8, 2004

Things change. Remember, you are loved. It's no Ad Astra Per Aspera, but it does the trick.

Bondcliff, you made me smile.
posted by melissa may at 1:20 PM on December 8, 2004

Mission/mantra: "There is a brotherhood of man, dedicated to giving all you can. A noble tie that binds all human hearts and minds into one brotherhood of man."
posted by The White Hat at 1:20 PM on December 8, 2004

"It's only coffee"

I worked in a coffee shop where there were a lot of grumpy/awful customers and not-so-great management (like most coffee shops I imagine). A coworker was particularly good at brushing off the bad vibes when people behind the counter got stressed or angry. He'd always say "It's only coffee." Implying that really, nothing that happened inside that coffee shop made that big of a difference in anything remotely important in the world. This was somehow very comforting to me. So, I tend to remember that line when I get unreasonably angry or stressed about stuff.
posted by soplerfo at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2004

I know this seems ultra-geeky, but I occasionally find myself internally reciting the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear. My wife actually got me started on this....
posted by mr_roboto at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

"Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble." --Samuel Johnson
posted by Dean King at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2004

what thinkpiece and gd779 said.

To which I would add, sometimes words get in the way for me, being an extremely language-oriented and critical type of person. I have therefore found this kind of mantra very helpful -- Thomas Ashley-Farrand's book Healing Mantras came along for me at a difficult time and really helped me.

And one more piece of advice I got from a wise friend at the aforementioned difficult time: talk to yourself with the same love and compassion that you would use with a child. Most of us would never say "you are so fucking stupid" to a child, and yet we say these things, and worse, to ourselves all the time. Reframing my own self-criticism in these terms made a big difference for me.
posted by butternut at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2004

"It can still get worse."
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 1:24 PM on December 8, 2004

I start singing (internally):

"May the longtime sun shine upon you,
all love surround you,
and the pure light within you,
guide your way on."

... works for me.
posted by reflecked at 1:24 PM on December 8, 2004

Thank you, thank you for admitting that, mr_roboto. The "Litany Against Fear" is my choice, too, and I was just didn't feel up to admitting it.
posted by clever sheep at 1:25 PM on December 8, 2004

"I eat this shit up."

Adversity pops up? No problem -- I can handle it. That's life, and since living life means dealing with problems, then I'm all over it. I learned it while hiking the AT in '96.
posted by waldo at 1:31 PM on December 8, 2004

My motto should be "Life is too short for this shit."

Instead, it's usually just "breathe" or "relax."

"Life is good" would be another good mantra.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2004

Also, "Thank goodness handguns aren't allowed" seems to be the refrain that runs through my mind whenever I see someone pull a particularly bone-headed maneuver in traffic.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:33 PM on December 8, 2004

Oh, and sometimes I sing or hum (internally) "Absolute Beginners" by the Jam, particularly when I'm scared of something (I got in the habit of doing it years ago when I was constantly getting bloodwork done, and I found it distracted me):

I stared a century thinking this will never change
As I hesitated, time rushed onwards without me
Too scared to break the spell too small to take a fall
But the Absolute luck is -- love is in our hearts!

I lost some hours thinking of it
I need the strength to go and get what I want
I lost a lifetime thinking of it
and lost an era daydreaming like I do...

It's got a very peppy, shiny brass section in there, too, which (cheesy as it sounds) always helps to generate a little spring in my step.

posted by scody at 1:35 PM on December 8, 2004

"It's a good day to die."

Never fails to cheer me up.
posted by naomi at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2004

Of course, AK-47s are allowed where I live.
posted by naomi at 1:43 PM on December 8, 2004

Nothing long-term. Mine last for a few days, perhaps at most a few weeks. But the one that's been on my mind recently is a line from Full Metal Jacket:

"The dead know only one thing: it is better to be alive."

Which I find strangely, almost paradoxically, to be very dark and at the same time incredibly life-affirming.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:00 PM on December 8, 2004

"Don't just eat a hamburger, eat the Hell out of it."
--Church of The Subgenius

(which is a variation of 'go for the gusto' and 'if you're going to do something, do it well' and also 'go hard or go home.')

Also, when in doubt, remember these five little words:
"What Would Paris Hilton Do?"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2004

"Don't drink hard liquor out of plastic bottles."
posted by Cyrano at 2:05 PM on December 8, 2004

Number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine...
posted by redneck_zionist at 2:07 PM on December 8, 2004

"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming..." Dory from Finding Nemo

Found it very helpful while driving through the remnants of Hurricane Whatever it Was Called for 8 hours in September (it followed us up the interstate and it was damned scary). "Just keep driving, just keep driving..." Strangely soothing.
posted by SashaPT at 2:09 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

I sing the blues to myself. If I'm feeling down, it is generally something like "The sun's gonna shine on my backdoor someday...". If I'm feeling good, it's likely to be:

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times, hard times,
Come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

I'll also echo Naomi's "It's a good day to die". And like windershinns, I try to give thanks a lot, and that helps calm the mind too.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 2:16 PM on December 8, 2004

windershinns = widdershins

posted by McGuillicuddy at 2:17 PM on December 8, 2004

Let it go
posted by Justin Case at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2004

Mantra: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - Hunter S. Thompson

General attitude I attempt to live by: Paranoid Optimism. "An attitude that is known by winemakers: the hope that this year's wine will be better than ever, mixed with a fear that it might be ruined by too much sun, too much rain, or some other calamity." -- Bill Emmott, from an article in The Economist, Sept. 11, 1999

Basically, it means balancing a positive attitude with a finely honed sense of potential risk. Works for me.
posted by enrevanche at 2:54 PM on December 8, 2004

Mine: "Fuck it, whatever"
Jim Morrison-filter: "Everything is all fucked up, as usual..."
Homer Simpson-filter: "Yeah, but what are you gonna do?"
Dude-filter: "Ahh fuck it, let's go bowling."

See, all the major religions are the same! =)
posted by idontlikewords at 3:01 PM on December 8, 2004

I realized I gave you the inner dialogue that gets me through my day, when you are asking for a mantra. Along those lines, I use:

Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud;
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

- from the Diamond Sutra
(at the very bottom of the linked page)
posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:01 PM on December 8, 2004

Ooh, I like the one about paranoid optimism! I've always felt like it takes a little of both to get anywhere. The paranoia keeps you on the ball, and the optimism keeps you from bumming people out.

I'm always reminded of the idea of "doublethink" from 1984 in this context, e.g. holding two opposing ideas at the same time. Certainly Orwell was none too pleased with this kind of thinking, but F. Scott Fitzgerald says "The number one test of a first rate mind is its ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time while continuing to function"

One final metaphor, and then I'm done. I often look at myself as if I'm preparing to pass on the expressway. At first you have to kind of hang back and evaluate the situation (lanes, cars, etc.) But once you see an opportunity, just go for it, and make it look easy... =)

Ok, one more, because of On Preview, re: the diamond sutra... Variously translated, the Tao te Ching says, "The Tao that can be named is not the real Tao" and I find that makes me feel better when confronted with those who take too much satisfaction in their Name, Position, Religion or etc.
posted by idontlikewords at 3:12 PM on December 8, 2004

Depending on the level of stress , I say to myself, "Forget worrying and plans, just shine love into this moment," "It's just a day, it's just a day," or "F*** it!"
posted by Lynsey at 3:17 PM on December 8, 2004

Dammit, one more! (And thanks to Katie for bringing this up, so I can get all this out, and read other people's ideas, as well!) This actually ties in to the "I am fuckin' stupid" phrase that she started the thread with, and it's from the song Bob Lind by Pulp.
It will not stop
It will get worse from day to day
'Til you admit that you're a fuck-up; like the rest of us
Oh, that's the time you fall apart
That's the time the teardrops start &
That's the time you fall in love again.
That's all I got, I swear... Seacrest out! =P
posted by idontlikewords at 3:24 PM on December 8, 2004

when things get particularly intense, I like to hum, "mars: bringer of war" from the planets suite by holst.

my mission statement is thus: "what if you could help someone else and yourself at the same time?"
posted by mcsweetie at 3:30 PM on December 8, 2004

you will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm
- colette

there is no sorry to be sorry for - neutral milk hotel

be the change you wish to see in the world - ghandi
posted by mai at 3:40 PM on December 8, 2004

When overwhelmed, I use this sometimes:

"I am not a fool.

I am wise.

I will run from my fear,

I will outdistance my fear,

then I will hide from my fear,

I will wait for my fear,

I will let my fear run past me, then I will follow my fear,

I will track my fear until I can approach my fear in complete silence, then I will strike at my fear,

I will charge my fear,

I will grab hold of my fear,

I will sink my fingers into my fear, then I will bite my fear,

I will tear the throat of my fear,

I will break the neck of my fear,

I will drink the blood of my fear,

I will gulp the flesh of my fear,

I will crush the bones of my fear and I will savor my fear,

I will swallow my fear, all of it, and then I will digest my fear until I can do nothing else but shit out my fear.

In this way will I be made stronger."

-from a dubious source (albeit footnoted, but what does that mean if it's metafiction, anyway?) in Mark Z. Danielewski's "House of Leaves")

I also like the Bene Gesserit Litany of Fear from "Dune" as noted above, but don't have it memorized.

I also say "flow like water, bend like bamboo" a lot.

I also compose haiku in my head when I need to calm down, focus, or otherwise tune things out (or let things in, as the case may be.)
posted by exlotuseater at 3:53 PM on December 8, 2004 [2 favorites]

It's not really a mantra or motto, but thanks to DNA I have very distinctive hair that gets a lot of stares. Sometimes, to avoid social anxiety, I will repeat "E.I.A.L.A.M." which stands for "everyone is always looking at me." Sounds conceited, I know, but it helps normalize the situation and prevents me from hiding.
posted by samh23 at 4:01 PM on December 8, 2004

“Happiness is the maximum agreement between desire and reality.”
- Joseph Stalin
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:01 PM on December 8, 2004

I'm trying to work "Enjoy every sandwich" into the rotation. Bless you, Warren Zevon.
posted by Succa at 4:02 PM on December 8, 2004

I don't make the garbage, I just drive the truck.
posted by MrZero at 4:34 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

I have always liked 'impossible is nothing,' but Adidas used it and I suppose I never really used it as a mantra.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 4:40 PM on December 8, 2004

Mine is the self-referential "nothing is this simple". It's almost an anti-mantra, but it works if, like me, you're trying to be aware of just how big, complicated, and ultimately chaotic the world is.
Labels are meaningless, since no group can be characterized by something as simple as a handful of words. It's pointless being a 100% pessimist or a 100% optimist - things just happen, things that happen make other things happen, and we only have control over so much (for values of "so much" greater than zero but less than most people think they are).

That's my philosophy, anyway. No matter how much you think you know, there's always more stuff to take into account.
posted by wanderingmind at 4:51 PM on December 8, 2004

??? — gimel zayin yud — gam zeh ya'avor — this, too, shall pass.

If I'm in a rut or feeling down, I can look forward to it ending, because I know it will do so; if I'm at a peak and having a great time, I know to enjoy it now because it won't last forever. Impermanence inspires me, but it doesn't work for everyone.
posted by mendel at 4:55 PM on December 8, 2004

Thought I had the Unicode bits right there. I mean:
posted by mendel at 4:56 PM on December 8, 2004

Stole mine from Frank Herbert:
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me, and when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
I also like various forms of this, which may be Christian or pagan or a number of things. I grew up with it from Madeline L'Engle's books:
On Terra (earth) in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power
the sun with its brightness
the snow with its whiteness
the fire with all the strength it hath
the lightning with its rapid wrath
the winds with their swiftness along their path
the sea with its deepness
the rocks with their steepness
the earth with it starkness
all these I place
With God's almighty help and grace
between myself and the powers of darkness
posted by ontic at 4:57 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

It is simple. We are where we should be, doing what we should be doing. Otherwise we would be somewhere else, doing something else.
posted by Framer at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2004

in the face of adversity:
"you've dealt with worse"
(which is not always strictly true, but it helps to say it anyways)
posted by juv3nal at 5:18 PM on December 8, 2004

this is amazing! i do know for certain that i want to choose the words i say to myself, if that makes sense. i need to make an effort to change the internal dialogue (well, first it needs to become a dialogue -- right now it's just one negative voice talking). thanks for sharing so many ideas about the directions i can take my inner voice. . . i know i'll be reading and rereading this thread.
posted by katie at 5:18 PM on December 8, 2004

eat bite suck fuck gobble nibble chew
nipple bosom hairball fingerfuck SCREW

I'm always smiling by the end.
posted by dness2 at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2004

1) "You really are a shit, aren't you?"

-I'm working on getting rid of that one, but it's powerful, especially when tied to some past memory of doing something shitty.

2) "This moment, this moment, this moment."

-Pretty sure this came by way of Ram Dass.

3) "thursdaymorningthursdaymorningthursdaymorningthursdaymorningetc."
-There's A tightly looped sample of someone saying this -or something that sounds a lot like it- on one of The Hafler Trio's albums (Seven Hours Sleep I think). Oddly soothing for some reason...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2004

katie, bless you. I've been thinking about the same thing - every time I do something stupid, my head plays "God, I hate myself." I realized recently that not only is that not true, I'm really sick of hearing it. I'm working on destroying the cheap Radio Shack tape player that's responsible.
posted by lbergstr at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2004

What a great question and responses! In decision-making, I try to think of unintended consequences, and Michel Foucault provided the quote:

"People know what they do;
they frequently know why they do what they do;
but what they don't know is what what they do does."
posted by key_of_z at 6:33 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

i'm a really visual person, so one technique i use is to picture whatever's bugging me as a water balloon. if you squeeze a water balloon, it pops out between your fingers. you can't get a good grip on it. if you let it go, it falls to the ground and goes splat. can't really hold onto loose water, or concentrate a lot of attention on it.

so over and over in my mind, i drop the water balloon instead of squeezing it. sometimes it's helpful to mentally throw the water balloon (usually at someone. the mental picture of their face and hair dripping with water is immensely amusing).

i realize it's not the best analogy, but it works for me.

and, based on level of anger/sadness, i think :

1.stop thinking.

2.this too shall pass or fuck this fucking shit, if i'm really mad.

3.the bg litany against fear if i'm sad, and the serenity prayer if i'm mad.
posted by littlegirlblue at 6:41 PM on December 8, 2004

Chalk up another geek who has the Bene Gesserit litany memorized. It's gotten me through a lot. On the same note as it's only coffee (which is shorter & better than mine) It's a museum, not a hospital. Nobody's going to die. The one I'm trying to replace my bad mantra with is stay open, let go. And there's always hang loose, stay cool, admit nothing and good old Be Here Now

I don't know where this came from but it got me through labor & dentists' appointments: This is a process. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. You are in the middle. The end will come.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:00 PM on December 8, 2004

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

When I first heard that I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world but it's stayed with me and now I think it's hella true.
posted by frenetic at 7:13 PM on December 8, 2004

I'm not saying this is profound, because it isn't. But I'm in the newspaper business, as a content-provider ("reporter"). Whenever the stress seems too much to take, I like to repeat the newsroom mantra I've heard before:

"Hey, tomorrow it's under the puppy."

Somehow the image of the final resting place of our work -- spread out over the floor for the juvenile canine to shat upon -- helps keep it in perspective.
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:45 PM on December 8, 2004

All shall be well.
And all manner of thing shall be well.


Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward.
posted by Miko at 8:12 PM on December 8, 2004

"Just Breathe" ... from any number of sources, tho i suppose it was drilled into our skulls by that awful drew barrymore cinderella movie.

I also used to demonize myself in my internal chatter...i've found that disagreeing with whatever abuse I give myself, either silently or aloud (silly I know but it helps) tends to interrupt the cycle long enough to gain enough power to question it ("I'm not really a dumb shit, am I? It's just the circumstances, everyone makes mistakes") next time, or the time after that.
posted by softlord at 8:24 PM on December 8, 2004

This thread literally has me in tears; it's been a hellish week and somehow, knowing that there are other people out there coping with their own hells just got to me. I will be re-reading this one too. We're all more alike than we may suspect.

Mine is: in five years, this will all seem silly.

Thanks, katie. Good question.
posted by icetaco at 9:38 PM on December 8, 2004

I used to use something like Framer's but then I began to hate it for many complex reasons and now I rebel it against in all forms.

For a while now I've used Amor Fati.

Also use a lot of "trigger" words that bring me into the moment: 'STOP', 'FOCUS', 'FORWARD', 'LIVE','YES'.

(I once found a great paper on this a long time ago on mantras and trigger words and their impact on people's choices... a large part of it, IIRC, is just a matter of training/controlling your instincts if that makes any sense at all. This is a really useful thing to be able to do since thinking carefully about every decision/situation will destroy your body and soul.)

Good luck katie.
posted by nixerman at 11:48 PM on December 8, 2004

I've always recited fragments of verse to myself when stressed. Most recently, a piece of Blake:
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thru the eye
Which was born in a night to perish in a night
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears and god is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night,
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
It becomes more mantra-like when I repeat the couplet 'Some are born to sweet delight/Some are born to endless night' over and over.

Also, sometimes if I don't understand a passage from Carse's Finite and Infinite Games, I repeat it over and over to myself when I'm worried or depressed.
posted by Ritchie at 4:53 AM on December 9, 2004

Not exactly a mantra, but one of my oft-repeated mental phrases: "Never attribute to malice what could be attributed to ignorance". Works pretty well when people are doing things that seem deliberately designed to piss me off. I can't take credit for the quote, but can't remember the name of the man who said it.
posted by gokart4xmas at 7:25 AM on December 9, 2004 [1 favorite]

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

That one seems the most poignant for me right now. I have a bunch of other ones that I use in different situations and I can't remember them at the moment.
posted by KathyK at 9:07 AM on December 9, 2004

This is good.

For me, some days it's "keep breathing. "

Other days, I try to repeat affirmations, content depending on whatever I need to be working on.

Katie, if your mantra is "I am fuckin’ stupid.” you might benefit from this book. A friend of mine found it life-changing. in a good way.
posted by theora55 at 10:29 AM on December 9, 2004 [1 favorite]

I know it's been mentioned, but it's "fuck it dude, let's go bowling"....or more lately, "it's the journey..." while holding my breath.
posted by flower736 at 3:15 PM on December 9, 2004

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