Eating Disorder Therapy

Finding Happiness: Positive Mantras and Affirmations in Recovery

The dos and dont’s of this powerful healing and growth tool.

Repeating Blocks for Eating Disorder Recovery and Healing

Mantras and affirmations are among the most common and valuable recovery tools. Countless people struggling with various mental health issues and traumatic experiences have successfully used them to: 

  • Shift Negative Thought Patterns: For individuals who often face negative thought patterns and self-doubt, repeating phrases like “I am strong,” “I can overcome challenges,” or “I am worthy of healing” can reinforce positive thinking and self-perceptions.
  • Build Resilience: Recovery is a journey with ups and downs. Mantras and affirmations can serve as reminders of one’s inner strength and ability to cope with difficulties. 
  • Cultivate Mindfulness: By chanting or repeating a mantra, you can be in the present moment, quiet their minds, and cultivate a deeper sense of awareness. This can be particularly helpful for managing stress levels and emotional triggers during recovery.
  • Enhance Motivation: By stating goals and aspirations in a positive manner, such as “I am determined to live a happy life,” you can strengthen your resolve to stay on track with your recovery journey.
  • Overcome Triggers and Urges: By repeating phrases like “I am in control of my choices” or “I am stronger than my urges,” you can gain back a sense of control.
  • Cultivate Self-Compassion: Recovery often involves confronting past mistakes and regrets. Mantras and affirmations focused on self-compassion and forgiveness can help you let go of guilt and shame so you can embrace your journey with kindness and understanding.

However…

Despite their proven effectiveness, mantras and affirmations may not always yield the desired results. This article will share some common reasons why positive phrases and self-assertions don’t always work and how to use them in a way that’s more likely to cultivate personal healing, emotional well-being, growth, and self-improvement.

Mantras vs. Affirmations

Though many people use and refer to mantras and affirmations interchangeably, it can be helpful to delineate the origins of each one and why some people prefer to use one or the other or a combination of the two in their quest toward inner peace and becoming their best self.

Mantras Explained

A mantra is a sacred word, phrase, sound, or syllable that is repeated, chanted, or meditated upon as part of spiritual practices. The word “mantra” is derived from the Sanskrit language, where “man” means “mind” or “to think” and “tra” means “tool” or “instrument.”

  • Origin: Mantras have been used for thousands of years in various eastern religions and spiritual traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and others. 
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of mantras is to focus the mind, exude positive energy, cultivate awareness, and connect with a higher spiritual consciousness. Mantras are believed to have transformative qualities, bringing about a change in consciousness and facilitating spiritual growth.
  • Repetition: Mantras are repeated silently or aloud, often hundreds of times during meditation or spiritual practices. The repetition helps the practitioner enter a state of meditation or heightened awareness.
  • Example: Om (Aum): This is one of the most well-known mantras in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is considered the primordial sound of the universe and is often chanted at the beginning and end of prayers and meditation sessions.

The power and significance of mantras lie not only in the words but also in the intention and focus of the individual chanting or repeating them. The repetition of daily mantras can be a profound way to calm the mind, focus one’s energy, and connect with deeper aspects of consciousness and spirituality.

Positive Affirmations Explained

Affirmations are positive statements, inspirational quotes, or declarations you can use to challenge negative feelings, thoughts, beliefs, or self-perceptions and replace them with constructive, empowering, and optimistic beliefs. These statements are typically written in the present tense and focus on the desired state or outcome, as if it is already true. 

  • Origin: Affirmations have their roots in modern-day psychology and self-help practices. 
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of affirmations is to reprogram the subconscious mind and instill positive thoughts and self-beliefs. 
  • Repetition: Affirmations are also repeated, but the focus is more on affirming the desired state or outcome in a conscious and intentional way. They can be repeated verbally, written down, and displayed in visible places to serve as constant reminders.
  • Examples: I am becoming healthier and stronger every dayI am at peace with my past and excited about my future. I am worthy of happiness.

Consistent use of daily affirmations can help individuals build self-confidence, reduce negative self-talk, and create a positive mindset that supports personal growth and well-being.

Reason Why Mantras and Affirmations Don’t Always Work

Like just about any recovery tool or technique, It’s important to recognize that mantras and affirmations aren’t universally effective for everyone, and different individuals may respond differently to these practices. That being said, there are some common hangups you want to avoid if you’d like to explore using mantras and affirmations as part of your recovery regimen.

  • Lack of Belief: To be effective, mantras and affirmations require belief and faith in their power. If you have strong doubts about their effectiveness or hold negative beliefs about them, they’re less likely to have any significant impact. 
  • Lack of Consistency: Like any practice, repetition and consistency are essential for mantras and affirmations to create a lasting impact. A one-time use won’t have the same effect as incorporating them regularly into your daily routine.
  • Insufficient Emotional Connection: For mantras and affirmations to be powerful, they need to evoke emotions and resonate deeply with the individual. Simply repeating words without an emotional connection isn’t likely to bring about significant positive changes.
  • Unresolved Underlying  Issues: Using mantras and affirmations as a surface-level solution without also addressing deeper underlying issues is bound to limit their effectiveness. For example, if you suffer from chronic anxiety and your only way of addressing that is using the affirmation “I am confident and capable,” it may provide some limited or temporary relief, but one statement alone will not “cure” your anxiety.
  • Negative Mindset and Self-Talk: If you have a cynical mindset constantly trying to edge its way into the driver’s seat, you may encounter resistance when using positive affirmations. Negative thought patterns will use all their might to overshadow the positivity of mantras and affirmations, limiting their impact.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Mantras and affirmations are wonderful nurturing practices, but they’re not magical solutions with guaranteed immediate or miraculous results. 

How to Make the Most Out of Mantras and Affirmations

Using mantras and affirmations can be a helpful and empowering practice in the process of recovery. Here are some effective ways to incorporate powerful mantras and affirmations into your recovery journey:

  • Choose Relevant and Positive Statements: Select mantras and affirmations that resonate with your recovery goals and needs. Focus on positive statements that promote healing, self-empowerment, and resilience.
  • Make Them Personal: Using a favorite quote or saying is perfectly fine, but also try creating your own personal mantras that use “I” statements to make them reflect your unique experiences and aspirations. For example, if “I am strong and beautiful” feels too grandiose with where you are right now, try something more neutral, like “I am building strength and self-acceptance.”
  • Practice Mindfulness: Before using mantras or affirmations, take a moment to center yourself with a few deep breaths or a short meditation practice. Be fully present and engage with the words as you repeat them, allowing them to sink in and influence your thoughts.
  • Repetition and Consistency: Repeat your chosen mantras or affirmations regularly. Consistency is key to rewiring your thought patterns. Set aside dedicated time each day for mantra or affirmation practice, such as morning or bedtime routines.
  • Visual and Auditory Methods: Repeat the mantras or affirmations aloud, focusing on the sound and vibration of the words. Write them down in a journal or on sticky notes and place them where you’ll see them frequently, such as on your bathroom mirror or on your desk.
  • Embrace Emotions: As you recite your mantras or affirmations, engage with the emotions they evoke. Feel the positivity and belief behind the words. Work on becoming your own best friend.
  • Organic and Intentional Use: New mantras and affirmations may come to you naturally in difficult times or when you’re having an especially hard day. Let them organically unfold. Simultaneously, have specific mantras or affirmations written out for the day, week, etc. and plot out when you will recite them, e.g. at the end of a yoga session, before you get out of bed, on your commute to work or school, or in your journal before going to sleep. 
  • Take Action: Positive affirmations can inspire and motivate, but taking concrete steps toward change is crucial for real progress. Example: Reciting the affirmation “I am worthy of love and friendship” but never doing anything that involves connecting with others makes it difficult to achieve your desired outcome.
  • Gratitude and Positivity: Combine gratitude with affirmations to amplify positive feelings. Express gratitude for your progress and the opportunities for growth.
  • Support Groups: Share and practice affirmations within support groups or therapy sessions. Group affirmations can foster a sense of unity and encouragement.
  • Adjust as Needed: As you progress in your recovery or self-growth journey, you may find that certain affirmations become more relevant or that new ones are needed. Adapt your affirmations accordingly.

. . . . .

Remember, the effectiveness of a new mantra and affirmations at the right time can vary from person to person. The key is to approach this practice with an open heart, patience, and a willingness to embrace positive change in your life. Every day can be a new day!

Lastly, it’s important to note that while mantras and affirmations can be helpful, they are not a substitute for professional treatment and support. They are complementary practices that can work alongside therapy, counseling, and other evidence-based interventions to support you on your path to self-growth and recovery.

Happy healing. You’re most certainly worthy of it.