“Again! Again! Again! Do it again!”
“I don’t want to eat that. I don’t like it. I don’t want to eat it.”
As moms, we’re used to listening to the same things over and over and over and over again. The insistence of small children – and the general disregard for our sanity – can be absolutely maddening. (Especially when the repetition is accompanied by equally repetitious tugging on our limbs or clothing.)
I’ve found, however, that sometimes the best thing to do to prevent myself from getting snippy or lashing out is to fight fire with fire. Repeating a mantra to myself – something short and rhythmic – has helped me soothe and clear my mind many times and in many situations, allowing me to stay strong and in control and present, at right about the time I feel like I’m going to fall apart.
Last week, for example, I found my brain wandering a million miles away, down a road of unhelpful, depressing, and debilitating thoughts. Every now and then, I’d mentally come back home and realize that, even though I was physically with my family, I was missing out on all the fun they were having. As much as I wanted to participate, my brain kept wandering away – until I reigned it in with a simple mantra: “Be here now. Be here now. Be here now.” Repeating those words to myself over and over again broke the cycle and help me to mentally and emotionally stay with my kids and husband – and to enjoy our time together.
I’m sure that’s a mantra I’ll use on a regular basis to help me be present so I don’t miss out on the good times by getting lost inside my head.
I have other mantras for other occasions, as well. Some are inspired by pop culture, like, “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful,” from the movie The Truman Show. I use it when I’m feeling anxious and nervous. Or “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” from TV’s Friday Night Lights, which comes in handy when I’m pushing myself (usually while I’m running) to achieve a goal.
But others are simply suited to the situation I’m in. I’ll repeat, “Strong body, calm mind. Strong body, calm mind. Strong body, calm mind,” when I’m trying to relax through pain or discomfort (childbirth, the last few miles of a marathon), or “I love you more than I love that ______,” if ever my one of my children breaks something irreplaceable. It helps me maintain perspective when I’m on the brink of losing it.
And that’s what I love about mantras as a mom: their ability to calm me down, help me focus, and propel me through difficult situations – even those small moments when one of my kids is offering up a mantra of their own, like, “I dooooon’t waaaant toooo! I dooooon’t waaaant toooo! I dooooon’t waaaant toooo!”
Do you have any mantras to help you stay focused and centered when you’re about to go off the deep end?