Mantras – what they are and why they work

November 26th 2022

Mantras are often discredited. However they work. Here is why and how to create your own.


My dyslexic brother was repeatedly told by his Y6 teacher that he was stupid and would never achieve anything.  He heard it so many times, he came to believe it.  He did no know about mantras and why they worked, but nevertheless, this repeated phrase had a big impact on him.

As kids, we repeat times tables over and over again until you instinctively know the answer to 4×6 without going consciously through the 6 times table!

Repeating things results in instinctive knowledge – things you don’t have to think about, don’t question.

And this is why mantras work – something repeated over and over again creates a belief, a fact that the mind treats as real.

Here is the ‘but’…..

Your mind will accept whatever it is told

Just as my brother took in the negative comments, our minds don’t sift through the positive vs the negative, it will just take on board whatever it is repeatedly given and create that belief, that fact.

So be careful what you say to yourself

If you repeatedly say  – or even think – that you are useless or depressed or anxious this repetition works in just the same way, creating a belief that you are useless, or the feeling of depression, of anxiety.

However, you can also actively create a positive belief, a positive feeling.  And here is how:

How to create a mantra

There are 3 rules:
1.  It must be in the present tense – ie “I am OK”, not “I will be OK”

2.  The shorter the better – too many words and you will forget it!

3.  Write it in the positive – ie change “I am not a victim” to “I am a survivor”

No-one need ever know your mantra, it is yours. The key to having one, is using it!

The mantra that I use most is:

This mantra ticks all the boxes.  It is in the now, it is just 4 words, and it is positive.  It also very believable – nothing lasts forever so there is little resistance from the mind.  Whilst believability is not a ‘rule’ it does help the mind adopt the mantra if it is credible for you.

I often use this mantra.  I used it when I failed an exam recognising that the feelings of disappointment I had would not be with me forever.  I used it when someone accused me of doing something I had not done.  I used it when I had Covid.

My mantra gives me hope, hope that whatever I am experiencing in that moment is temporary.

However, mantras can be used in many different ways.  Most top  athletes have their own version to help them perform at their peak in competition.  Many speakers I know use it just before they head on to stage.

My suggestion to you is to create one, or even several, for yourself.  And I would love to help you!

Please send me your ideas in the comments box below or through the chat box on the website and I would be delighted to give you feedback on it.

Are you ready to create your own mantra?

Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist  and hypnotherapist in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  She is an author and public speaker and would love to talk to you if you would like to know more about her work

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