Self-love mantras sound good, in theory, right? Reminding yourself how brilliant or wonderful you are to overcome your self-doubt is a great idea—but it’s not taking the whole picture into account. This particular ideology says that if you believe in a certain outcome or think hard enough, the universe (higher power, source, God) will present it to you.
If that were true, I would be the world’s most patient mother! The thing is, your body can’t be fooled. No matter how many times you repeat a mantra, you can’t overwrite what your body already believes to be true.
If you’re quick to abandon mantras because they just don’t work for you, this could explain why. Before you give up entirely though, I have another idea. Let’s get into the science of self-love mantras (you know we love to dig into the science!) and how to reframe them so you can actually create the change you’re seeking.
Why Your Self-Love Mantras Aren’t Working
The goal of a mantra is to shift what you currently believe into a new, perhaps happier, or more supportive, belief and/or take action on something you want to change. Here’s the problem: in order for a mantra to stick, and actually shift your belief or spur you into action, you need to know it’s possible. You can’t simply “wishful think” yourself into anything despite what many social media influencers might lead you to believe.
I’ll use an example to illustrate. Let’s assume you’re unhappy with how little you’re working out and want to be more fit. You might develop a mantra to combat your body insecurities and motivate you to go to the gym, like: “I am fit. I love to work out. My body is toned.”
If you’re unhappy with how little you’re working out and how out of shape you feel, chances are this mantra is going to fizzle out in the long term because your body knows it’s a false narrative. You won’t decide to start working out every day or magically start loving your body just because you chant a few things you want to believe.
Instead, you’ll feel shame when you stay exactly where you are. The good news is, making your self-love mantras work is as simple as a reframe.
The Secret Sauce for Self-Love Mantras That Work
Reframing is what your self-love mantras are missing. Here’s what I mean by that. Let’s use the fitness example from earlier:
- Current Desire: Work out more often to become more fit.
- Useless Self-Love Mantra: I am fit. I love to work out. My body is toned.
- Reframed Self-Love Mantra: My body can be active. My body can master new challenges. My body has overcome many obstacles and it can do that again.
This reframed mantra is effective because all the statements are true. Rather than forcing yourself to chant a hollow phrase you don’t actually believe, this mantra is empowering and reminds you of the capabilities you already have and that you’re more likely to feel are genuine.
This reframing formula leverages NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming, a language technique that can change someone’s thoughts and behaviors to help achieve desired outcomes). It also brings in the power of self-love while rejecting old shame deeply embedded in the fitness industry.
With all of this, you can tap into the body (somatics) and build new neural pathways (the result of neuroplasticity) to create new beliefs.
The Science Behind Your New Self-Love Mantras
The brain has a reward center in the prefrontal cortex (the front of your brain), which activates if you do something to cause a positive outcome. This matters because, when you turn your mantra into something you actually believe, you’re more likely to take action.
When you take action, and feel good about yourself for doing so, your reward center releases dopamine (the pleasure chemical). This has a domino effect, causing you to want to do it more and more, which is, of course, how real change occurs.
The best part about this is that even a small taste of success will ultimately breed more success because the brain is wired to continue seeking it out. This means, reframing your self-love mantras leads to long-term habit-building, growth, and happiness— and that’s what we all want, right? (I know I do!)
It’s Time to Reframe Your Mantras
To reap the benefits of self-love mantras, or any mantras for that matter, you have to echo what’s already true. You can’t overwrite your current beliefs or build new habits just by saying something over and over. You have to leverage what your body already believes to be true to take action. This in turn releases that pleasure hormone, so you’re motivated to keep doing it. Before you know it, that thing you started repeating to yourself has shifted your reality and you can’t even remember what life was like before!