I forget which therapy program in the blur of treatment facilities I’ve been in it was where the group worked on creating our own personal mantras. I only remember thinking back to something I’d learned in one of my most boring classes and deciding that I could connect with it on a deep, personal level.
I am water.
Water, I had learned in my earth science class, is a stable molecule. It adapts to changing circumstances rather than reacting. It heals and nourishes; it is the essence of life. As someone who had always seemed to be in a crisis, reacting rather than thinking, breaking down rather than being resilient, I wanted to be like the water that already creates more than half of my body.
Whenever a crisis arose, I repeated my mantra: I am water. I visualized water transforming into ice, into liquid, and into vapor until I felt more in control of my thoughts. My mantra became my personal grounding technique, useful in a wide variety of emotionally-charged situations. It became so important that I decided to have it tattooed on my left arm (which, historically, I had used as a space to self-injure) as a constant reminder that I am capable of stability. I vowed never to harm myself again because of the beautiful work of art gracing my skin — because I myself am a beautiful work of art.
I recommend creating a mantra that you can use in times of crisis or distress. As long as it’s personally meaningful to you and easy to remember, it doesn’t really matter what it is. You could start with an “I am” statement if you don’t have any other ideas — I am strong, I am capable — or an “I can” like I can get through this or I can do this. If you enjoy thinking abstractly, you can compare yourself to an element or earth feature of choice like I’ve done with water.
Another great idea is choosing a common phrase, such as “failure is part of the road to success” or “fall down seven times, get up eight.” If you’re spiritual or religious, you can incorporate your beliefs into your mantra. I know many people who choose a short, encouraging Bible verse as theirs. Identify what it is you struggle with most and try to create a mantra that addresses that specifically. You don’t have to tell anybody what it is if you’re not comfortable with it. This is for you.
Once you’ve incorporated your mantra into your life, you could get especially adventurous and get a tattoo or piercing that reflects it! Your body is your canvas, as is your life story. Make it your own.