Merriam-Webster defines mantra as “a mystical formula of invocation or incantation” which I find totally appropriate considering I’d always thought of a mantra as being something whimsical that yogis or hippies invoked during a meditation or while smoking pot. Had someone told me years ago that I’d be using mantras as a tool to work through my recovery from alcohol addiction and manage my anxiety I probably would have laughed and rolled my eyes. Yet, here I am.
My therapist actually introduced me to the idea of utilizing a mantra. I struggled in the moment to come up with one and when I left that session, I didn’t think much about the idea of using the power of words to change my thoughts and beliefs. Days passed and the negative self-talk continued – my thoughts were consumed with all the bad decisions I’d made while drinking, things I thought for sure made me an awful mother, a horrific wife, a terrible human being. Then one night as I lay exhausted but unable to sleep, once again beating myself up over and over again in my mind, I consciously stopped myself and thought, “I am enough.” Despite my past, despite who I once was, despite my flaws and imperfections…I. AM. ENOUGH. I repeated those words, without believing them, drowning out all the hateful thoughts I typically had about myself, until I fell asleep.
The next day I acknowledged to myself that it had actually helped to tell myself that I am enough just the way I am, no more, no less. All these experiences, all this life I’ve lived, both good and bad, have made me enough. So that day I once again fell asleep while telling myself, “I am enough.”
At some point it occurred to me that I had given myself a mantra. I began to recite these words that once had no meaning but now held much power when I felt my anxiety take hold. As my heart raced and my hands shook and my eyes welled with tears, I would tell myself over and over, “I am enough” until the anxiety subsided. When caught off guard with a snide comment from a coworker or realizing I mixed up some event date, I paused and thought, “I am enough.” As it turns out, in my humble experience at the very least, just like you will believe the lies you tell yourself, the same occurs when you begin telling yourself the truth.
I’d be lying if I told you that I believe that I am enough every day, all day. I’m not there yet and I’m not even sure if that’s possible, anyway. I still have those moments that my anxiety overwhelms me and the awful noise from my brain telling me what a fuck up I am for all I’ve messed up is just so loud and the tears come and I just want it to all stop, stop, stop stop stop stop stop….and so I take a deep breath and tell myself quietly that I am indeed enough. Then again and again and again. As many times as it takes to calm my spirit. Because I am enough, I really am.