anonymous Asks ...
Do mantras and positive affirmations help? Sometimes I get blue and my mind gets really negative and I look at everything in a really bad light. My friend recommended picking mantras like My life is great or I am happy and smart and saying them over and over to myself a thousand times a day. I feel a little stupid doing this and I don’t see how I am going to fool myself. Is there anything to this idea?
Rev. Christopher Smith Says ...
The person asking this question raises some good questions about mantras and positive affirmations. There are some things to think about around these that they raise. Not knowing the questioner's particular situation, let me address how these can be in general, wile encouraging the questioner to work with a professional in his/her area on their walk to peace and wholeness.
One dimension around depression is that it is easy to see the negative and that this the side of things that a person is naturally drawn to view things about their world and themselves from this perspective. The idea behind mantras or positive affirmations is to try and balance this out and to be presenting a more balanced and realistic view of yourself and your world.
It is important that the affirmations you chose to use are ones that you actually believe are true. Telling yourself that you are able to break world records as a runner when you haven't exercised for years is not going to be something that you will accept as a real affirmation. It may take a while on your own or with the help of someone to guide you to determine genuine affirmations. These are ones that when you say them, hear them or read them, they will actually be able to be effective and able to balance out the negative that is coming in your life. Again, it is important to say that it is not about fooling yourself about these things but being reminded of things that you know to be true (even on the edge of what you believe) that provide a balance in your outlook.
The other part that can be important is how you approach the affirmations. One way to do this is to repeat it verbally many times each day, but this is not the only way. Another way this can be done is to write the affirmations and post them in places that you will see them (from your bathroom mirror to the front of the fridge to a note on the inside of your wallet). The key to the locations are that you regularly see them but that they are not in places where it would be embarrassing for others to see them. With today's technology, you can also use your smart phone to send you messages at random points in the day - using calendar reminders, alarms or other apps.
Using these types of positive affirmations are not likely to be a panacea that solves your problems on its own. However, except in cases where there is something else really serious also going on, it is not likely to be able to do harm. In fact, in combination with other approaches, using positive affirmations will connect you with an understanding of the positive in the core of your being and in what you can and do do. This connection along with other methods can have a real impact on the types of situations that was initially raised.