That was dumb of me. I feel so stupid. I’m so absent minded. I’m feeling unreliable and frankly unworthy.

I am strong. I am capable. I am a good worker. I am fun and a good mother. I am trying my best.

As I wrote those two lines, I felt such different feelings. Even though the second line is harder for me to believe, they are true statements and I felt less sad and stressed out even as I wrote them out.

As a coach, I have encouraged my swimmers to repeat positive mantras to themselves so that they can tell themselves better stories and help them to do better and have better mindsets. This is because your brain believes what you tell it over and over again.

The past few days, I have been sensing I am in need of some positive mantras in my life. It’s so easy to get into a pattern of beating yourself up for things that you don’t do well or things you don’t like about yourself. But truly, the way you think and the characteristics you have within you are needed in the world.

What you tell yourself about yourself, is the most important thing. So if you tell yourself negative things, your brain begins to believe it. If you tell yourself positive things, it might take some time, but your brain will begin to believe it too.

Often this negative spiral thinking is a habit. James Clear in the book Atomic Habits, talks about how behaviors are often triggered by factors in the environment.

The other day I got a call from my boss and at first I thought, why would she be calling me? As I answered the call I remembered I had committed to working that day, but had totally forgotten about it because I didn’t put it in my calendar. Even though I had done some prep work for it earlier in the week, since it wasn’t on my calendar I forgot to go. This triggered me to start thinking negatively about myself. While this was a mistake, putting myself down was not a productive habit.

It is easy for us to be triggered by certain events and then cope with them in an unproductive or even harmful way. It takes a lot of work, but noticing an event that causes us to negative self talk, and then reprogramming our brains to think differently, will help us to live a healthier mental life. I certainly don’t have it figured out but I’ll be working on it.

When we see people on social media that seem to be living a filter happy life, it can trigger us to compare and tell ourselves negative things about ourselves. Taking a break or re-framing the social media experience is quite imperative to this end. When we remind ourselves that everyone struggles and has difficult times, it can help us be more empathetic and realistic about ourselves.

I want to encourage you to pick a positive mantra that you really want to believe about yourself. Write it on a mirror or put it in a place you see everyday. Tell it to yourself over and over again until you start to believe it for real. Live in that reality because it is reality, you just have to start believing it!