For those of you who are not familiar with my journey, I am currently recovering from two unexpected spinal surgeries in one year. (Ouch! Yes, I know). I just began rehab where part of it requires strength and conditioning to help build back the muscles that have atrophied from being bedridden for almost half of the last 12 months. On day one of rehab, I spent the first 20 minutes just talking to my trainer, Shawn, and taking inventory of my body and my mind. During our chat, I found myself quickly losing my train of thought- something I just usually don't do. I knew it was from the pain medication that I need to take just to be able to walk through the door and show up. In the middle of apologizing for my circuitous rant, my bone growth stimulator- a device that I'm tethered to 24/7 for the next year of my life- starting beeping. At this point, I was begging for forgiveness for my existence and said,
"I'm so sorry for all of this, I'm still very much a patient."
Shawn looked at me, pointed at the door, and said,
"Out there, where you're being told you are weak, you are thin, you need to wear this device and take these pills, yes, you are very much a patient. But when you're in here with me, in this gym, within these walls, you are NOT a patient. THAT's the mindset I want you to have."
"I am not a patient."
Ummm, WOW. TOTALLY blew me away! I came home and wrote down those words in my journal as a poetic reminder. Over the next few days, I reflected on this little piece of paper, and it got me thinking about the power of mantras- you know, the unique expression of a few perfectly curated, choice, words that can have a dramatic impact on our everyday?
In the face of a crisis- whether the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, a betrayal or a financial setback- the human mind has a tendency to react in conditioned, limited ways that usually only intensify our pain. We may ruminate on the past, getting stuck in feelings of resentment, regret or self-pity. Or we may project into the future, getting caught up in fears and worst-case scenarios. Instead of becoming trapped in the mind's repetitive, injurious, and ultimately self-defeating thought loops, a mantra can be a powerful device to move through a difficult situation and return to your innate state of balance and well-being or propel you to desired achievement.
After weeks of both soul and science searching, here's how I curated three of the most powerful words to help change my mindset every, single day.
- Write down what you desire most, in this moment, right now. For me, I needed to tap into an inner strength I know exists to shut down the external noise. Whether your desired state is aimed at manifesting security, pervasive self-confidence, or overcoming adversity, choose a concept that communicates exactly what you want.
- Turn it into a declarative statement. Once you've landed on your concept, imagine you already have what you are looking for to attract it as part of your reality, and craft a declarative affirmation.
- Use first person. If nothing else, a mantra is extremely personal. It speaks to no one else but you. Using words like "I am", "I have", "I will", allows you to connect with your end game by hearing an expression that conveys you are already there.
- Avoid negative words (not, never, etc.). There's a reason "I am not a patient", needed to evolve. An optimistic expression of your desired goal- what you are versus what you are not- helps to employ positive thinking.
- Write, cite, repeat. The only real requirement of a mantra is that it is authentic to you versus meeting the approval or reviews of your peers. Test your words by writing, citing, and repeating it, especially in key moments when your desired state is challenged.
Which brings me to my personal mantra.
For me, I'm told my C7 vertebrae was permanently fractured in order to be able to perform my second procedure, my first spinal surgery didn't work, my bones for no reason whatsoever rejected my fusions, and my medical condition falls into a tiny window of a 1-2 percentile of patients. I'm weak. I'm thin. My body is broken in every way humanly possible. But no matter how much all that is being said to me, I don't hear it. My spirit and my mind refuse to listen. Why? Because...
"I am unbroken."
THAT's my mantra.
It's the realization that no matter how cracked and how deep those cracks maybe, we are all unbroken. Because we all have the ability to overcome what aches us.
We may bend, but we won't break.
As I put my new mantra to use, the voices in my world may continue to chip away, because strength is all mine, and audible silence its generous side effect.
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