Friday, January 7, 2011

The Persistent Mantras

A couple months ago I finally got around to reading "Eat Love Pray" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'd give it a C-. I really liked the authors style of writing, but her content didn't pull me in. I bet I disagreed with 90% of her opinions. Except perhaps when she described the incredible Italian pizza. Her philosophy on spirituality was mind-boggling when combined with her extreme narcissism. (Really, this was the most self absorbed character I've ever come across. And I read a lot. Well, maybe Dorian Gray was worse. But just.) I did enjoy several parts of the book. The idea of a year escape for personal discovery is one I can definitely buy into. And Gilbert is entertaining. But as I was nearing the end of the book I was glad. I was tired of Gilbert's blather on her personal search for more "ME!".  (I do see the irony in this statement as blogging is inherently a "me" activity.)
However, just a few pages from the end, one of her thoughts hit me like a freight train. I wish I had the book in front of me to quote it, but I loaned it to a friend. Gilbert spoke of the negative mantras that we carry with us through our life. To quote her in an interview:
"Whatever you repeat constantly in your head is your mantra whether you know it or not. That is leading you on your way. So, if you're repeating, I'm a moron, I'm an idiot, I'm a failure, I'm a jerk, I'm a loser, that's your mantra."
This concept of negative mantras was totally new to me, and yet, I realized I have been living with them for years. Two current ones in particular. I see myself as someone with relatively high self-esteem. But when I really think of it, I have two mantras that constantly remind me that I am not living up to the woman I believe I should be. 
The more I thought about them, the more they moved into my consciousness. I see now that they are cankers to my happiness. I've had mantras like this before. In high school we are all plagued with them. When I was first a mother, the persistent cry "You are not doing this right" didn't leave my mind for over a year. 
My current mantras are far to personal to display for the public. I finally was able to discuss them with my husband, but I think he was distracted by all the crying. (I'm not much of a crier, but when I do...)
Since moving to Boise, I can definitely say that I am going through something. I just feel off kilter. Really off kilter. Like "I'm having a nervous breakdown" off kilter. My mantras are constantly shouting, reminding of my failures. I have no support system, and Boise is very different from anything I have known. I think it will take a while to feel comfortable here. I need to get these mantras under control. And soon. I can see how they cast a shade over what should be a sunny life. This is so much easier said than done. Probably because it is entirely up to me.

Does anyone else feel plagued by negative mantras? How do you deal with them? 


Angel said...

I have never commented on here before but my name is Angel and I want to tell you that your eyeshadow in this picture is beautiful :) As a mother of two myself, I can appreciate the fact that you even had time to put some on!

I like to deal with negativity by fighting it back with scripture. I AM fearfully and wonderfully made, I CAN DO all things through Christ who gives me strength, I AM the head and not the tail, I AM loved and created for a purpose.....after you quote enough of these truths you will start to feel better:) Hang in there!!

lila Braga said...

This book had the same effect on me! I was of center for ages after reading it...perhaps because I was already of center before reading it.
It is a bit of a selfish and silly romantic book...but it did push my buttons and made me look inside and find the hidden feelings.We are so good at keeping up face to the outside world,yet,inside we are falling to are not alone.
Iam still working on my "mantras"...I can see a long road ahead of me.
PS: love your honesty,and you blog too!

Shanny said...

I can totally relate to this post. I had a new baby in July, and then we moved across the country in October. Off kilter is a great way to put it. I can't get things done the way I used to, and I don't know very many people in this town, and I find myself having a meltdown at least once a week. It usually involves me telling myself I can't do it. I guess it's time to start replacing "I can't" with "I can" or something equally positive.

Hang in there, Natalie! Things will get better! Positive mantras :)

kristi lee said...

ahhhh, negative mantras. i think a good vent session is a great place to start (call me one night if you need to) and then just jump in to whatever is bugging with both feet. i have found over the last few months that as i've REALLY worked out consistently that those negative voices are hardly audible. when my body feels strong my mind feels strong too. i know exercise isn't the only answer since there are so many other ways to get a boost BUT it's really kicked me into a better gear lately.

remember also that it took a while to like chatt too!! boise will happen (maybe...ha ha!).

my advice...join a gym, climb on a bike with a great instructor, crank the music, clear your head and get all nasty sweaty. promise you'll feel better (even if sometimes you follow it with a chaser of chocolate;)


Mrs. Dirnberger said...

I have read your blog for a while and this post spoke to me b/c you are the ONLY Person I have talked to that feels the same way I did with the book. Except I gave it a D!!!!
I kept reading it b/c I wanted it to get better...I wanted to like the book. I liked the idea of the book, I liked the getaway to find yourself and I like her eating and meeting a hunk BUT I didn't like the way it was written. It never once grabbed me and pulled me in. I

Lisa said...

Gosh, I couldn't even finish that book. I returned it back to Target after the first 50 pages! For many of the same reasons, plus the language and innuendo I found as I flipped to the end...yikes.

A good workout at the gym (when I'm not pregnant) helps me tremendously! Secondly, allowing myself to have some meltdowns. Oh, how good a cry can feel! Then, counting my blessings...seems obvious, but if I sit quietly and think of how good I have it---well, perspective can change everything!

Amy F. said...

I haven't read the book. I flipped through it at Costco and noticed a lot of language, so I passed, but I feel for you. Moving from a place you love and people you love is so hard. I was very happy in Portland and we've been here a year now and I'm still having a tough time. I'm trying to focus on the positive and find things that bring me happiness here. I do have a great hubby and kids and I'm trying to focus more on others and not feel sorry for myself, but it is hard. I need a positive mantra too. :)

Natalie PeGan said...

This is something I read today that is exactly what I needed.

Humble gratitute usually follows with a healthy dose of inspiration... just what I need to get up and fight for my own joy.

Kathleen W. said...

Though I mostly liked the book (I'm a Buddhist, so many of the philosophical ideas made sense to me personally), I did find Liz pretty annoying, and awfully skeptical of her easy ability to make friends. My mantra as a mother has definitely loneliness, thinking how isolated I am (as you probably can relate to too). It just seems so foreign to me as a human being to have little physical help with my 2 year old. Where's that "village" that should be helping me raise a child? :)

But, I hadn't thought of negative mantras, and certainly this applies to my feelings of isolation. I need to be more in control of my situation, seeking out playgroups and such (it is so hard, believe me I've tried). Library lapsit helps, but an hour a week just doesn't cut it. Having online relationships helps, but I really would like to try harder to find some real-life people to lean on.

Hugs to you! It must be so hard living in a new place, without family and friends nearby. I hope you find some support soon.

~jan said...

Hi Natalie! I didn't read this book due to language as well. I chose to watch the movie after receiving it from Netflix. It was ok, but it wasn't as good as expected.

Negative mantas are tough to overcome and it can be very personal. Kudos to you for having a honey you can share with. I look to the scriptures as well and this year have chosen my scriptural mantra to be Ether 12:27. The last two years I kept small and simple things shall great things come to pass... as my mantra. Some days, especially in a new territory, it is the small things we accomplish each day that get us through it all. Good luck and God Bless you with a surprisingly wonderful outlook on 2011 and Idaho!

Dionna said...

I understand the "no support system" thing. We have no family here in Boise and have really had to carve our own way.

I thought you had some friends here?????? Hang in there. Moving is a huge life transition and it takes time to make new friends.

Jenni said...

hey there! i've been going through a mantra phase myself. and this is how it's been going for me. first ... when i let negative self-comments start taking over my thoughts, i think to myself "would i say these negative things to my friend about her?" we should speak to ourselves the way we speak to our friends. second ... i've come up with two positive mantras that i repeat whenever i can. and i'm willing to share one with you ... it is what it is. when work is kicking my butt and i can't control it ... it is what it is. i don't know if this will help at all ... but i know it works for me. and don't be afraid to write your mantras down on sticky notes and put them up in your bathroom. the little things work natalie. just stick with it and remember how fabulous you are.

Natalie Jane said...

Thanks Jen :)

amydear said...

Um, if I was one quarter as photogenic as you are (gorgeous) I would have happy mantras running through my head! I avoided this book because everyone seemed to be reading it, and I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon. But I think that every woman has the tendency to be too hard on herself. I'm trying to overcome some of that in 2011. I used mantras a lot in marathon training and loved the result.

Amanda @ Life with A.Co said...

Negative mantras - I neither thought of these in this way before, but I guess it really makes sense.

I think, as a woman, it's hard not to have negative mantras. I mean, society tells us how we are suppose to look, act, etc. and it's hard to live up to those 'model perfect' standards. It's constantly in our face, and I certainly deal with those insecurities.

I too consider myself to have high self-esteem and I'm also a very optimistic person. When I look in the mirror and don't like what I see, sometimes I will try saying out loud the opposite of what I'm thinking. For instance, superficially, if I'm feeling chunky one day (we all have those days), I will say, 'I look great. I look great. I look great.' If I can't seem to focus on anything but what I am unhappy with on my body, I will purposly pick something I do like, and zone in on that and say, 'I have great legs. I have great legs. I have great legs.' It sounds silly (ESPECIALLY writing it out! LOL) but it takes the focus OFF the negative and puts a positive spin on your attitude. TRY IT.

A.Co @ A.Co est. 1984

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