“I’m the hardest human being that God ever made.”
“I don’t care if it’s true or not; it’s the most important conversation to me. It’s the thing that drives me every day.”
For anyone else, this could easily be considered hyperbolic.
But when it’s a veteran Navy Seal, previous pull-up world record holder and ultra-endurance phenom, you suspect there might be something going for repetitive self-talk.
Fortunately, we don’t have to become the man and legend himself, David Goggins, to benefit from the positive effect of personal mantras.
We’re often our own worst enemies, especially when pursuing personal growth.
Setting stretch goals beyond our current capabilities requires abandoning familiarity in favour of discomfort.
If you’ve ever tried to instil lasting habits, you know how hard it is.
We don’t need voluminous self help tomes to intuit what’s good for us.
- Eat less crap
- Exercise more
- Learn new skills
- Try new hobbies
- Socialise more
And yet when it comes to execution, we frequently falter, falling back into unproductive old routines.
Then we wonder why our life never changes.
Personal mantras are another tool in the kit to mitigate against self-sabotage.
What is your personal mantra?
As underwhelming as it may appear in written form, here it is:
This moment is perfect.
It might seem like a strange affirmation, but I find it incredibly effective.
My primary personal mantra arose almost spontaneously, during an episode of discomfort.
I was running, on a particularly unpleasant day, before self-doubt inevitably arose.
“You’re tired…you have a foot injury…better not overdo it.”
A sequence of undermining thoughts, intended to put a stop the pain of exertion.
This is not a new phenomenon, or isolated to physical exercise.
Our brain is a problem-solving machine, constantly questioning the present moment.
- We compare what we’re currently doing with what we could be doing
- We wonder whether we should engage in a more productive activity
- We ask what’s missing from the present moment and how we could make it better
- We daydream about how amazing life would be, if only…
In reality, this translates to constant dissatisfaction with where we are and what we’re doing.
- If we’re out running we want to be resting
- If we’re resting we want to be walking
- If we’re working we want to be relaxing
- If we’re watching a film we want to be eating
We’re always seeking to improve our present experience because it’s never enough.
We can never fully accept the now for what it is when we’re forever seeking ways to make it better.
And this was what I realised when I was running.
My mantra appeared with a sudden realisation, an inherent understanding that my mind is never at ease.
However nice the moment, I’m always surreptitiously seeking to enhance it.
My personal mantra emerged as a way to access complete alignment with the present moment, however subjectively good or bad.
Whether you’re running in the rain as I was and wondering whether to go home, or watching Netflix questioning the need for another piece of chocolate, remind yourself that the present moment is perfect and no improvements are necessary.
Upon doing this, we can finally relax into whatever we’re doing, fully mindful, engaged and alive.
Of course, this is just my personal mantra and yours will likely be different.
Indeed you may even have different mantras for different situations, depending on their effectiveness in each context.
Mantras often arise when we most need them…
But only when quietening our mind and listening closely.
They can be an incredible source of power, helping us endure discomfort and overcome hardship.
They can act as a turbo boost for the brain and reminder of what’s important, an anchor in a stormy sea of thoughts and emotions.
So my departing question…
What is your personal mantra and how will you use it?