Back in November of 2018, I wrote about my personal experience with positive affirmations – Don’t Affirm – ACT. (TLDR – affirmations bad, action good)
Over the past few days (well, it’s actually been weeks now since I started the first draft of this article), I’ve been thinking about something – I do use affirmations, but I wouldn’t call them positive ones.
Instead of “affirmation”, I prefer using the word “mantra.” I’m not the first to call them that, and there are other words that you can use as a description if “mantra” is too woo-woo new-agey for you.
I like it because of one of the definitions I’ve heard – “Mind Tool.” These phrases are tools to condition your mind and help you to become who you want to be.
1. “Bring It On”
This is my go-to when I need to get myself to do what I don’t feel like doing because of the fear of pain. The full mantra is:
“Bring it on! I love pain! Pain sets me free!”
It’s done at the top of my mental lungs – yep, I yell at myself in my head. In a kind way, of course.
It originally came from a book called “The Tools”, and it’s supposed to activate some sort of life force or somesuch thing (way too woo-woo for my taste, honestly).
Regardless of the explanation for why it works, it does work for me. But…
What about the whole “Lying to ourselves is the reason that affirmations don’t work? Do you really love pain?”
Depends on how you look at it. I definitely don’t love pain for pains sake. I *do* love pain when it helps me to grow as a person. When we look at pain in this way (not as something to be avoided, but as something to be loved) it changes the dynamic of the mantra. It changes the life we live.
2. “That’s Like Me!”
This one is used whenever we do something that you want to do again – anything from correctly performing a practical skill to acting in a way that lines up with your values.
This is an affirmation in the original sense of the word – We are reminding ourselves of the truth. When you do something right, in that moment, you are like the person you want to be. And by affirming that, you are telling your brain “More of that, please!”
3. “Needs Work”
The sibling of “That’s like me”, Loki to it’s Thor. When you do something dumb, unskillful, something that violates your values – that one “Need’s Work.” Do NOT use this to beat yourself up. It’s not a huge deal, but enough of a deal to recognize that what you just did needs to be improved in some way.
So again, an affirmation in the classical sense – yup, you done messed up. Useless to take a hammer to your psyche. Useful to recognize that you are off course and need to correct.
4. “Do It Now”
This is the newest of my mantras. It’s a little different than the others, since I’m specifically working with it every morning (I keep forgetting to in the evenings – more on that below). It only takes about a minute, two minutes max, and is practiced when you first get up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.
This is a specific directive to your mind – a direct order to Do It Now.
(Whoops, I forgot to do it this morning! And when reviewing the material on it I realized that I haven’t done it in the evening in a while. That’s the hardest thing about all of this stuff – remembering to put it into practice. So I’ll do it now and be back in about a minute… OK, I’m back. It’s been less than a minute.)
Here’s how to do it:
Repeat the phrase “Do It Now!” to yourself at least 50 times, immediately after you get up in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. The minimum number of times is 50. When you forget to, you Do It Now.
I’ve been doing it since I first saw Brian Johnson’s (hilarious!) video on the subject. I also installed an app on my phone (Tap Counter Manager) to help me keep track of the number of times I repeat it.
A funny thing is happening – when procrastination hits, sometimes the phrase pops into my head and gets me moving. It doesn’t pop into my head all the time, and I don’t always follow it into action (a great time to “Bring It On!”), but I’d be willing to bet that … no, I’m positive that I’m getting more done because of one.
Those are my four favorite mind tools for become who I want to be: Bring It On! – That’s Like Me! – Needs Work – Do It Now!
Do you have any favorites that you like to use? Feel free to drop them in the comments – I’d love to learn about them.
Seriously… Do It Now!