When I hear the word “Mantra” I think of exotic temples, meditation, being centered and focused. And if you look mantra up in a dictionary, it is exactly that: a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
If mantras have the power to help you focus in meditation, why not use them as a tool in your everyday life?
You might have noticed that specific thoughts in your everyday work routine repeat themselves automatically anyway.
For me they can be thoughts like “I should just leave it like that.” – referring to graphic projects that I am definitely overthinking.
While that thought actually helps me, there are definitely more negative ones that repeat themselves over and over in my head too, like “What if no one will like my photos?” or “What if it’s not good enough?”. For us creatives, the list of negative thoughts can be long.
This is where we need to step in with sentences we consciously decided are good for us and counter negative thoughts – short: use mantras!
You can’t help your brain from thinking negative thoughts that influence the way you approach your projects entirely but you can learn to counter them with positive, encouraging thoughts that will ultimately help you be better at what you do because you can act freely, away from the bully in your head.
1. Evaluate Your Thoughts
First of all you need to figure out what your repetitive thoughts are during the day, in order to find the perfect mantra to counter potential negative thoughts. I think “Done is better than perfect” a lot, so I don’t obsess over perfecting something that is already nicely done. There are also some negative thoughts, as I mentioned earlier, like thoughts about failure, questioning my skill, etc.
Spend a day to a week noting thoughts that reoccur frequently without focusing on it too hard because then your thoughts might not come naturally. At the end of that time period you will have a list of thoughts. Create a table and split them into positive and negative thoughts.
2. Counter Negative Thoughts
In order to become stronger against the influence of your negative thoughts you need to find the core of your negative thought and find a simple sentence you can use to counter it. For example: If I think “I should spend so much more time on this project, it isn’t perfect yet.” but I already spend a lot of time and effort on the project and it is in fact nicely done, I would write this down:
“I should spend so much more time on this project, it isn’t perfect yet.”
Positive Thought to Counter With
“I have spent a sufficient amount of time and effort on this. It is perfect as it is.”
Sit down with the list of repetitive thoughts you noted in step one. Look at your list of negative thoughts and figure out the core problem with each one. You can group them in case you have similar thoughts that all have the same core problem. Then use your positive thought list and see if you can use any of them to counter your negative thoughts. Write them down. If no positive thoughts fit, look on Pinterest for motivational or inspirational quotes and use those to help counter your negative thoughts.
I actually created a board on Pinterest, you should check out for this. There are a lot of valuable quotes and sayings in there!
3. Create A Mantra Collection
In order to counter-think your negative thoughts or generally just motivate yourself and find focus you will need a list of mantras you can come back to and rely on in any work situation. You want to make these mantras as short but powerful as possible, so you can repeat them over and over without stumbling over the sentences.
Look over the list of thoughts to counter your negative ones you just created in step 2 and transform them into short sentences. For example: “I have spent a sufficient amount of time on this. It is perfect as it is.” can become “Done is better than perfect.” or “It is perfect as it is.” Using your personal list of negative thoughts, positive counter thoughts and motivational quotes from Pinterest you can easily create a whole list of Mantras that will serve you in any situation.
Now all you need to do is practice actually using them. It might seem weird at first to repeat words in your head over and over but you do it automatically, subconsciously anyways, so you might as well take over and guide your thoughts positively, so you can focus and achieve work you are truly proud of.
Here is the link to my Pinterest board again, with quotes that you might find useful.
Your creative companion,