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Do you Apologize Too Much?

Do you Apologize Too Much?

There is a tendency that some people have sometimes to apologize for things that do not require an apology, or to apologize for things that were not their fault.  This is a habit that comes from a place of wanting to be considerate of other people, which is a good trait and a good quality to have.  However, when we over-apologize, it can have the effect making you feel responsible for things that you shouldn’t be responsible for, and this pattern can contribute to a lack of confidence in how you feel and how you come across to other people.

Some people are so accustomed to apologizing for everything that happens, that they feel awkward when they make the effort to NOT apologize when it’s not needed. This can be a people-pleasing tendency that has become an ingrained habit. Other times it may be a response to anxiety or fear of judgement, but it can manifest itself in ways that merely serve to contribute to overall anxiety. The tendency to apologize for things when you have done nothing wrong may make you feel like you are in a constant state of needing to attend to other people’s feelings and comfort, leaving you feeling as though your own feelings and comfort do not matter.

What’s the Problem with Apologizing Too Much?

There is research that suggests that women tend to apologize more not because they are too sensitive or because men have more ego strength, but because women tend to perceive more wrongdoing in their own actions, whereas men tend to perceive smaller offenses as not worthy of requiring an apology.  In other words, women tend to judge their own behaviors more harshly, leading them to find more scenarios in which they feel an apology is merited. Over-apologizing is not a trait only women experience, but it may be more likely to be true if you are a woman, particularly one who has been taught to attend to other people’s feelings more than your own.

Here are some scenarios in which you may have become accustomed to apologizing, but that do not actually require an apology:

  • Expressing remorse for something that was out of your control
  • Apologizing for being in the way when someone else bumps into you
  • Apologizing for being offended at something someone else has done to you
  • Apologizing for having feelings or for crying when you are upset
  • Apologizing when someone else interrupts you
  • Apologizing for making a simple request such as asking the time or a small favor
  • Apologizing for apologizing

All of these situations are scenarios in which either someone else should actually give an apology, or in which there is no need for an apology at all because there has been no offense committed.

For example, have you ever been confiding in a friend about a painful experience, and then when you started to cry, you apologized to your friend for crying? This is an unfortunately common reaction that many people have when they start to cry, and the implication is that you have done something wrong by becoming emotional when talking about a painful experience. However, in this situation your friend is probably not offended at all that you started to cry, and in fact you have done nothing wrong; you are  reacting in a perfectly appropriate way to an expression of your emotions.  Why is an apology required? For disturbing the peace? No, you do not need to apologize in this situation.

When you begin to realize that you do not have to apologize for reacting to situations in perfectly normal ways, you will start to feel more confident in yourself. However, if you start to practice asking yourself whether an apology is needed before you issue one, you might find that you feel strange or uncomfortable when you stop yourself from apologizing.

Isn’t This Just Being Polite?

No, apologizing when it is not needed is not a form of being polite. Some people have this tendency because they have been taught or socialized to believe that they should always make sure other people are comfortable, even when they are personally uncomfortable.  This is true in those cases when someone bumps into you awkwardly, but then you apologize for being in the way.  Sure, you’re trying to just be polite and diffuse the awkwardness of the situation.

However, this is almost an invitation for people to walk all over you. Maybe this will not manifest immediately in the present moment, but over time, this tendency to always present yourself as the one who’s in the way can begin to undermine your own confidence in yourself and shows others that you are not going to stand up for yourself when someone has wronged you. This is most problematic in the way that this habit contributes to your overall demeanor around others. It doesn’t mean someone is going to start bullying you immediately, but over time it contributes to the perception that you will not fault others when they take advantage of or otherwise harm you. You can be polite and kind to others without apologizing for other people’s offenses.

The more assertive way to handle it when someone else bumps into you is to wait for them to apologize to you, which is what would be truly polite, and then accepting the apology with grace by saying simply “Thanks, but I’m okay”, or “You’re excused”. The thanks is for the apology, the reference to being okay or excusing the other person is a verbal forgiveness for the offense of bumping into you. If someone does not apologize for bumping into you, you can either choose to ignore it, or say “You’re excused”.  This way the implication is clear that you are not the one who has done something wrong, but you are gracefully excusing the error regardless of the offender’s reaction.

Practicing this new habit in more inconsequential situations such as an accidental bump in a social setting will help you gain confidence for when you need to stand up for yourself in more consequential situations.  When you really need to speak up for yourself because of unfair treatment in the workplace, or when a friend has said something hurtful to you, you will be better equipped to handle the scenario confidently because you have been practicing accepting responsibility only for the things you are actually responsible for, and not letting others off the hook for their own offenses by taking unnecessary responsibility.

When Is an Apology Really Required?

Genuine remorse is a different experience altogether.  When you have done something for which you are truly remorseful, you should apologize. A genuine apology is an art in itself, and giving a sincere apology is an important part of mending relationships and living up to your own values. A genuine apology should first be sincere, it should explain why what you did was wrong, it should include acceptance of responsibility, and it should include an offer to make amends if possible.

You might need to apologize for snapping at your friend when you were actually upset about something happening at work, or for being late to an appointment where someone was waiting on you, or for not following through with a commitment you made to help with a project. Being able to verbalize a sincere apology is an important skill to have, and can go a long way towards reducing hostility in a relationship or for preserving your reputation.

However, when you apologize for things that do not require an apology, it can undermine your confidence and leave you feeling powerless when others take advantage of you. If this feels like a familiar situation to you, start by beginning to notice all the times you apologize, and begin asking yourself whether that was necessary.  Then start by trying to reverse this habit in those smaller, inconsequential scenarios, so that you can begin to build confidence in your ability to assess when an apology is really needed.  Just taking these small steps can go a long way in boosting your overall confidence and helping you to become a more assertive person.

Cognitive Distortions 5.0: Control Fallacies

Cognitive Distortions 5.0: Control Fallacies

This will be the 5th post in my series on Cognitive Distortions. To read more about cognitive distortions and what they are, check out my first post in the series: Coping with Cognitive Distortions.

This post is about Control Fallacies, which are basically a distorted way of looking at how much control you have in a particular situation.  The reason that this cognitive distortion is unhealthy is because when we misjudge how much control we have in a situation, we can either blame ourselves excessively for something that has happened, or we can misplace our power by thinking that we have no control over a situation, when you might actually have more power than you think.

Control Fallacies work in two ways: you either think that events in your life are totally beyond your control, or you feel that you are responsible for everything, even things you could not control. Both aspects of this distortion can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and distress. These feelings can cause you to think negative thoughts about yourself, leading to more distress and negative thought patterns.

“I can’t control ANY of this! I feel so stuck!”

 The trouble with the first kind, thinking that things are totally beyond your control, can start to happen when you feel helpless and stuck.  Perhaps you feel that you are stuck in a job that you hate, but you feel that you have no choice but to remain there. Or maybe you feel repeatedly taken advantage of by others who have used you, and you feel that this is just something that will continue to happen because you are a nice person.

The fallacy in this kind of thinking is that you are actually able of making changes in these kinds of situations, but you have convinced yourself that everything is out of your control, so why bother changing?  This is problematic because by not changing and taking control of the areas of your life where you can, you may just be extending your own misery and missing out on the confidence you will gain from taking power back when you can.

Sure, there are going to be times that you really need to stick with your current job, because you haven’t been able to find a better option and you need the money or the benefits.  That’s understandable.  Sometimes, though, a person may just not have really put in the work to make a change, and then they tell themselves that they have no options.  This is a way of avoiding doing the work by claiming that you cannot change anything. I’m not saying this is always the case, because there will be times when you truly don’t have any control. This may be the case if you have a contract for a certain amount of time, such as for those in military service, or those who do not have many job opportunities in the area they live in. For others, though, they may be avoiding making the changes they need to make because it feels too overwhelming, or they are not sure where to start.

Similarly, if you have noticed that certain things continue to happen to you, such as feeling like people are using you or taking advantage of your kindness, you may also have some control in the situation that you can exercise. This might be a matter of learning to set better boundaries with others, which can be difficult but necessary. Setting boundaries can be hard to do if you are not used to being assertive or telling people NO when necessary. However, when you trick yourself into thinking that you can’t change things because you have no control over other people’s behavior, you may be engaging in a control fallacy.

“This is all my fault! I should have done something more!”

The flip side of this problem is when you feel that you are responsible for things that are actually outside of your control, and thus you feel that you have constantly made mistakes or are always letting other people down. For example, you may feel guilty for not noticing a mistake that a colleague made, and then feel accountable when that mistake turns into a bigger problem. Or, you may feel responsible for your partner’s behavior, because you tell yourself that you weren’t supportive enough or didn’t make sure they took their medicine.

When you notice that you are taking responsibility for things that you actually had no control over, this is a sign that you are not assigning blame in the appropriate ways, or you are not giving others the responsibility that they should have. This can lead you to feel guilty about things you didn’t control, or that you couldn’t have avoided. These feelings of guilt can lead to inappropriate feelings or shame or a sense of overcompensation you try to apologize for things that were not your fault.  For more on that, see this post on over-apologizing.

In this case, you need to learn to stop taking responsibility for problems that you didn’t create, and recognize that you are not responsible for everyone else’s behavior.  It doesn’t mean that you relinquish all sense of responsibility for things in your life, just that you try to look at a situation and figure out if there was something you could’ve done, whereby you learn something that you can use to make better decisions in the future, or you let go of any sense of shame or guilt involved in situations that you couldn’t control. This might mean that you have to practice not apologizing for things that were not your fault, or it may mean that you have to give yourself permission to let go of the guilt and shame about events that you have associated as being your fault when they really were not.

How can I change these patterns?

When you start to recognize these control fallacy patterns in your thought process, you can work to change them so that you feel more in control of your mentality and more confident about your decisions. If you notice that your thoughts feel self-defeating, if you notice that you constantly think about all the barriers you have instead of all the opportunities you can look for, remind yourself that you have to make small changes before you make big changes.  Look for the opportunities to make small changes first, such as setting better boundaries with the people in your life, or making a plan to change your career path.  Recognize that while you may not be able to control all of your circumstances, you can still control your personal decisions and where you direct your mental energy.

If you have the opposite problem with this control fallacy and you find yourself blaming yourself for things inappropriately, practice asking yourself some questions to get a better understanding of if there was really anything you could have done differently. Ask yourself: “How could I have known what the outcome would be? Is there really anything I could have done differently? Is this a problem that is out of my personal control? Is there someone else in this situation that needs to take responsibility for their own behavior or choices?” Recognizing your own power in these situations and figuring out what you can do differently in the future will benefit you if you learn to stop this pattern of cognitive distortion and look at the situation more objectively.

For more on cognitive distortions, check out these other posts:

Cognitive Distortions 2.0: Disqualifying the Positive

Cognitive Distortions 3.0: Personalization

Cognitive Distortions 4.0: Emotional Reasoning

Are you an Empath?

Are you an Empath?

Human beings vary in their degree of sensitivity, by which I mean that there are some people who are highly sensitive and who feel emotions very intensely, whereas there are others who display little sensitivity towards others and who also do not seem to be as affected by their environment or the people around them.  Empaths are people who are empathetic and sympathetic towards others, and also experience the world as a highly sensitive person.

From Sociopaths to Empaths

There appears to be about 3-5 percent of the human population that fall under the category of sociopathic, which does not mean that they are all murderers, but does mean that they operate their lives in a way by which their primary concern is always about themselves, and they do not have the ability to see things from the perspective of others. They may feel very little true guilt or shame about doing harmful things to others. Another 1 percent is considered psychopathic, with higher percentages of both sociopaths and psychopaths found among criminal populations.

There is another end of the spectrum though, who are rather the opposite of the sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists, which is those who are highly sensitive individuals, sometimes referred to as Empaths.  Interestingly, highly sensitive people comprise about 20% of the population.  Empaths are a kind of highly sensitive person that extends their ability to experience the feelings deeply of others as well as themselves. Empaths are people who identify with and feel intense empathy towards others. This does not mean that they are inherently fragile or overly-emotional.  It means that they feel things deeply, think about things deeply, and take on the emotions and experiences of others as their own.

Who Are the Empaths?

Being highly sensitive is a temperament trait, not a disorder or a problem that needs to be solved. In fact, it is a trait that likely has some benefit as a survival trait, because high sensitivity exists in over 100 different species of animals as well.  For example, certain dogs may be more sensitive and empathetic, which makes them amazing companion animals and also great therapy dogs.  These animals, as well as highly sensitive people, are very responsive to small changes in their environment.

Empaths often find themselves worrying not only about their own problems and experiences, but the problems and experiences of their friends and families, people they may not even know, and the problems of the world at large.  While many people do think and care about these things, empaths tend to have a more intense personal emotional response to these things, and may find themselves exhausted at caring so much about everything.  Both men and women can be empaths, and highly sensitive individuals exist in similar rates in both men and women.

Empaths typically have the following characteristics as part of their general personality and constitution:

  • Highly emotionally responsive, ability to understand and respond to the emotions of others
  • Easily empathize with animals
  • May cry easily, even at seemingly innocuous moments, commercials or movies
  • Tend to be creative and curious, with a desire to learn about and understand the world
  • Susceptible to over-stimulation, such as crowds, loud noises, or over-work
  • May be inclined towards caring professions, such as nursing, mental health, or teaching
  • May burn-out easily and need reclusive time to recover
  • Tend to observe quietly and take things in
  • Mentally process information deeply and thoroughly

Empaths may often feel different than others, feel misunderstood, or have a hard time understanding why others in the world care so little compared to them. This can lead to a tendency towards introversion, although not all empaths or highly sensitive people are introverted. Many empaths have been told throughout their lives that their way of perceiving the world is wrong, or that they need to “get over” their feelings.  However, recognizing that you are a highly sensitive person or an Empath may help you to understand more about what your unique needs are by learning to value the traits that you have and use them as a strength.

What do Empaths Need?

Empaths tend to work well independently, and also work well in settings that are one-on-one with another person.  Workplace environments with a lot of people, or that are very noisy and simulating may leave empaths feeling drained rather than energized. Socializing may lead to similar experiences.  Knowing that certain environments will feel over-whelming and lead to feeling unwell may help empaths make decisions about career paths and socialization choices that will lead to more fulfilling experiences.

Empaths also may need to have down-time in between experiences that are overwhelming.  For example, after going to a party one evening, an empath may need to make sure they schedule time for solitude in order to recover and regain energy.  They may similarly need to schedule down-time after situations that require a lot of emotional energy, such as caregiving for others, volunteering for charity work, or even engaging with friends to support them.

Knowing if you are an empath may help you understand how to express your needs more assertively.  Empaths may often have difficulty asking for help or even saying “No” when others request help from them.  Their tendency is to try to solve problems for others, but this may sometimes result in the empathic person neglecting their own needs.  Learning to say no to some obligations or requests for help, and learning to schedule time for yourself in order to recover your sense of energy can have a positive effect on your overall mood and improve your ability to interact with the world.

As an Empath, recognize that your highly sensitive qualities are a strength, both to yourself and your community.  Sometimes, you may wish that you could not care as much because of how deeply everything affects you.  However, the world needs highly sensitive people who are attuned to others and who care about how others think and feel.  Empaths have likely long been the healers and the nurturers in human communities, and have been valuable to the societies they live in.  However, empaths can also learn to care as much about themselves as they do others, which they certainly deserve due to the value they bring to other’s lives.

How to Use Sensory Distraction to Stop Panic and Anxiety

How to Use Sensory Distraction to Stop Panic and Anxiety

When you are experiencing overwhelming anxiety, or even having a panic attack, sensory distraction can help you re-focus your energy somewhere other than the distress you are feeling.  It’s a technique that involves using your senses to distract you long enough for you to calm down or regain your composure.  I’m going to discuss a few ways to utilize these techniques and give you some examples so that you can have some extra skills for self-soothing.

You have 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, all of which can be used to help you re-focus and calm down when you are having high stress moments.  For each of these there are at least a few ways that you can stimulate your senses to help you distract during high moments of stress or anxiety.  I often recommend these techniques for my clients who are trying to find non-medical ways of coping with anxiety and panic attacks.

Sight

There are a couple ways you can use sight as a sensory distraction.  You can walk outside and start looking around you and focusing on what you see, preferably natural objects, like branches swaying in the wind or clouds moving through the sky.  Start to really look for details and try to absorb as much information through your visual observations as possible.  Trying to concentrate and store information will challenge your brain to focus it’s energy on something else besides the distress you are feeling at the moment.  You could also choose a photograph, piece of artwork or another type of image or object that you find to be symbolic to you.  This could be a picture of a relative or family member you love, or something with religious or spiritual significance to you.  Just find something that you can look at to remind yourself to center and shift your focus outside of the current moment.

Sound

Music is an excellent way to use sensory distraction.  However, choose your music wisely.  If you are feeling depressed and you go turn on your sad music, you’re not going to feel better.  With music we want to think about using opposites.  If you are angry or anxious, listen to something uplifting or calming.  If you are feeling depressed, turn up your favorite feel good music.  Another way to use sound is through the use of meditation apps, audiobooks, or podcasts.  Again, think about your choices here.  Don’t exacerbate your current distress by listening to something that will further your feelings of anger, anxiety, or sadness.  Use an app to calm down with guided meditation, listen to a motivational audiobook, or subscribe to a podcast with a positive theme.

Smell

Using smell as a sensory distraction can be very beneficial.  Essential oils are great for this part.  Good essential oils to use for calming include Lavender Essential Oil, Frankincense Essential Oil , andBlack Spruce Essential Oil .  You can actually just grab the bottle and inhale the scents from there, or you could use them in an essential oil  diffuser.  You can apply on your skin too, but you may need to dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil before rubbing directly on your skin.  Carry a small bottle of lavender with you for quick aromatherapy whenever you need it.

Taste

For this sense, you can think of it in terms of temperature, and focus on either drinking a very cold glass of water or a hot cup of tea.  Alternatively, you could suck or chew on a piece of ice.  Cooling your body temperature may help calm you down some.  You could also try chewing gum or bubble gum, to get more sensation on your tongue and again bring your energy to a different place of focus.

Touch

For touch, you could always just grab a stress ball and squeeze away.  However, one technique I’ve found can be useful is running your wrists under cold water.  Just turn on the faucet and let cool water run over your pulse points, and it may help calm you down by lowering  your body temperature slightly and giving you a peaceful sensation on your wrists.  You could also use ice for this, either by rubbing ice on your wrist or perhaps your neck and chest.  If you have a history of self-harming behaviors, using ice as an alternative to cutting is a good strategy, or you can also use the rubber-band snap method.  That just involves wearing a rubber-band on your wrist and snapping it occasionally or when needed to provide an instantaneous re-direction of your focus towards the snapping sensation on your skin.  As always, be mindful of what works for you as an individual.  With a history of self-harm, you want to make sure this is going to be helpful rather than triggering, so use your own best judgement as to what techniques might be most helpful to you and follow your instincts.

Using these techniques may help you pull some energy away from the feelings of anxiety or panic you are experiencing.  By focusing attention to our senses, we give our bodies a chance to let go of that anxiety and re-direct our energy towards something more positive or healing.  When managing anxiety, you will benefit from having multiple resources to pull from in order to build your set of coping skills.  These techniques can be part of your overall strategy to help manage your symptoms.

Cognitive Distortions 3.0: Personalization

Cognitive Distortions 3.0: Personalization

This is the 3rd post in my series about Cognitive Distortions, and I am going to cover Personalization.  This is a distortion that can include believing that you are responsible for things outside of your control, or it could also mean interpreting things in a way that always reflects back on you.  As with all cognitive distortions, this may be something that we have all done once in a while, but if you find that you get in the habit of taking things personally when you don’t really need to, you may want to reflect on how you’re thinking about events that happen around you.

On the first part, believing that you are responsible for things that are actually out of your control, you might feel a sense of guilt or shame about things that are not your fault or that you couldn’t have controlled.  For example, if your partner is struggling with a health condition, but isn’t following their treatment recommendations, and you then feel responsible for not doing enough to help when their health declines.  Supporting your partner doesn’t mean that you have to take responsibility for things that are out of your control.  It’s always important to understand what you do have control over, because we all need to be able to take responsibility for our own actions and choices when we can.  Yet we also need to understand when something is out of our control, and recognize our own limitations.

The second part of Personalization is when you turn things around to reflect on you when an event or situation may not be about you at all. Sometimes this comes from a sense of insecurity or anxiety.  For example, if you walk into the break room at work, and everyone stops talking, and you mistakenly start to believe that everyone must be talking about you behind your back.  In reality, that could have happened for any number of reasons.  Maybe they were discussing something private, or maybe it was just one of those weird moments when the room goes quiet.  Regardless, if you don’t know for certain what’s going on, you don’t have to waste your energy worrying about it.  Sometimes we think situaitons are about us when they really are not.  One thing to consider is that most of the time, other people are worried about themselves and thinking about themselves.  This just means that most of the time they’re not thinking or worrying about you.  Of course there are people who spend their time focused on other people, and in general you don’t want to spend too much time involved with people who gossip or are just snarky in general.  Even when someone is treating you poorly, their behavior is about them, not you.  It’s easier to handle difficult people when you realize that the way they treat others is actually a reflection of how they feel about themselves.  Most of the time, you won’t be able to do anything to change those kinds of people, so you just need to focus on being the kind of person you want be.

If you find that you are often personalizing situations at times when you don’t need to, reflect on why you think this has become a pattern.  You may need to ask yourself why you feel responsible for things that you cannot control, or if you are holding yourself to a high standard that no one could realistically meet.  Sometimes you may need to ask yourself “is this really about me?” to get a better understanding of a situation and understand how much control you really have.  Try to practice asking yourself some of these questions when you are thinking about a situation and believe that it is about you or something you did.  If you think that insecurity or anxiety is playing a role in how you are interpreting a situation, you can practice reminding yourself that you are working on not personalizing situations.  This is one of those times when I will often recommend developing a personal mantra.  A mantra can be any simple phrase that you use to center your thoughts and help clear your mind of negativity.  It could be as simple as something like “Peace,”  or it could be something more specific.  For more on developing a personal mantra, see this post:

The Power of a Personal Mantra

Changing patterns of thinking can be challenging, but the good news is that with practice it becomes easier.  Once you are used to reflecting on your thoughts and taking more control over your own mindset, you will be building your emotional intelligence and you will feel more in control over your mentality and your moods.

For more about cognitive distortions, see my other posts in this series:

Coping with Cognitive Distortions: Catastrophizing

Cognitive Distortions 2.0: Disqualifying the Positive

The Power of a Personal Mantra

The Power of a Personal Mantra

Having a personal mantra is something that everyone can benefit from. When I work with people who have struggled with self-esteem, feelings of anxiety or even feelings of grief or depression, I have often encouraged clients to develop a personal mantra as a way of staying centered, focused, and calm in the face of difficult emotions. Having a personal mantra can help you when you begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated or defeated. One great thing about personal mantras is that you don’t have to have just one, and you don’t even have to make it up yourself.

Take, for example, the Serenity Prayer. This is a common mantra that is used in addiction recovery circles and elsewhere, and it basically says: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” [original credit from the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr]. Your mantra can be something like this, an inspirational quote with a spiritual focus, or it can be completely different. You could use a song lyric that particularly speaks to you, or something your mother told you frequently when you were growing up that still resonates with you today. The power of a mantra is in its ability to help you focus your mental energy in a positive direction when you need to transition out of negative thought patterns. People often turn to inspirational quotes or wise old sayings in order to provide some comfort and hope during times of struggle (i.e: “this too, shall pass”).

Creating a personal mantra is just about using the messages that resonate most with you and provide you with encouragement and hope when you need a mental re-set. It serves as a source of positive affirmation and directs you to put your energy in a more productive direction. Whatever words you decide to use for your personal mantra, claim them! Decide that this is your new mantra and you are going to use that positive affirmation to help you through your current struggles or to keep you inspired. You don’t have to go around telling everyone, just make sure you internalize that message and use it when you need to.

Tips for creating and using a personal mantra:

– Think about your favorite inspirational quotes, song lyrics from your favorite artists, or words of wisdom you have heard or picked up on from other people you know, OR just make something up and inspire yourself

– Make your mantra short and easy to remember

– Make sure your mantra reflects something you actually BELIEVE

– Ensure that the mantras you will use are positive, uplifting, and encouraging (avoid picking something like “Life sucks and then you die”)

– Post visual images of your mantra in places where you will see it (in your wallet, on your bedroom mirror, on the wallpaper of your computer screen)

– Set a daily reminder to reflect on your mantra at a useful time such as when you first get up in the morning, or before you step into that dreaded Monday meeting that always sours your mood

– Keep repeating the mantra to yourself silently when you are struggling

– Pick more than one if needed

– You can use one for times when you are overwhelmed (“Serenity Now!”), and another for times you need to be inspired (“I can create the life that I want”)

I have several mantras that I use a various times in my life, but just to share, one that I use is “Get out of the Pool”. This phrase is connected to an analogy I use with my clients sometimes, referring to drowning in a pool of self-doubt or negative self-talk. It means that when I feel like I am lingering too long in self-doubt or negative thoughts, I need to get out of that pool before I drown. Sometimes I have to remind myself to get out of the pool, because I’m wasting my times there and it’s not helping me in any positive or tangible way to keep marinating in that self-doubt.

Once you start intentionally incorporating your personal mantra in your life, you will find that its power will grow. Changing our thought patterns and our limiting beliefs can be done, but you must make a conscious decision that you will actively work to re-focus your energy in a positive direction. You do not have to change everything in your life overnight but starting to use a personal mantra will help you shift your energy and focus in a way that will feel more empowering and will help you get through those times when your thoughts feel like they are controlling you instead of the other way around.

 

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.