When I was in my early twenties (maybe even younger, but I don’t remember it from then), my dad started saying, “Life is hard” as a sort of mantra that seemed to just tumble off his lips. I remember being puzzled when I heard it. Life wasn’t that hard for me, on a day-to-day basis. Of course, I had rough days, but generally it was a fun and pretty relaxed period of time for me.
It wasn’t until he died that “Life is hard” took on a new meaning for me. And then again when my mom passed away. Even though I was an adult, life without my parents was — and is — hard, especially at particular times. But I have never dwelt on it.
Lately however, as we increasingly try to juggle schedules and work everything in, I find this phrase popping into my head more and more. I even say it out loud on occasion (usually, if not always, to Jim). Every time I think it or say it, I immediately feel bad, because in my mind anyway, it implies a dissatisfaction as well. And I amend the mantra in my head to add, “not bad, just hard”. The truth is I love our crazy, busy life (most of the time). I love all the time together. I love planning things out as a family. But I also recognize that it is extremely tiring to keep schedules straight and to get everyone to where he or she needs to be at a given time. It is at the times that the weariness sets in that the mantra pops out.
In general, though, I prefer more positive mantras like “I can do this”. When I get frustrated or feel like I’m up against a brick wall, I try to make myself look in the mirror and say, “I can do this.” It’s amazing how telling yourself something positive, especially in the mirror, can bring forth confidence. This is a mantra I have taught to Emerald and encourage her to use (although so far when she does it, it’s with less than enthusiasm — maybe in time it’ll help her. Or maybe she’ll come up with her own that works better for her).
Another mantra that I love in theory is, “I am beautiful”. I can’t say that I actually say this one. I am not currently in a stage of my life where I focus a whole lot on my physical appearance, although I am starting to notice signs of age I’m not too happy to see. So I may be there again sooner than I think. Either way, I love the idea of being good to oneself. There are too many negative emotions out there in that regard, especially for girls and young women. A daily (or more often) mantra, preferably in the mirror, just may help to convince young women (and others) of their own beauty (inside and out).
On a related note, although not a mantra, I like the practice of looking in the mirror and identifying what you like most of what you see. I have done this myself many times and I have asked each of my daughters to do it as well. It allows you to focus on the positives instead of seeing the blemishes, wrinkles, or what not. I also like that both of my girls are able to answer quickly (even the first time I did this, so it isn’t necessarily a memorized thing, and it does change). Sometimes they even have trouble deciding on which feature they like the most. Those days make my heart soar. They know they are beautiful and I hope this practice will help them hold onto that knowledge, especially as they enter the difficult puberty years. [Emerald is close to that now and I have noticed a larger focus on how she looks, especially along the lines of “looking pretty”, not looking “babyish”, and being appropriate for her age (not too young or too old).]
Another mantra I particularly like, especially when my confidence is low or at those times when I feel criticized is, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. A great quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. And a great way to remind us all of our inner value. 🙂
Do you have a mantra that you use? Are there any you think might be good to add to your routine?