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4 Powerful Mantras to Help You Deal with Fear and Anxiety

Peaceful Woman

“Trust that, when you are not holding yourself together so tightly, you will not fall apart. Trust that it is more important to fulfill your authentic desires than listen to your fears. Trust that your intuition is leading you somewhere. Trust that the flow of life contains you, is bigger than you, and will take care of you—if you let it.” ~Vironika Tugaleva

Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. But a year ago marked my first full-blown panic attack.

As is common with first-time panic attacks, I had no idea what was happening to me, landing myself in the emergency room several times and visiting numerous doctors before a diagnosis of panic disorder was offered.

Anxiety can cause you to feel like you are dying. Rapid heartbeat, shaking, confusion, shortness of breath, a feeling of impending doom, and a sense of unreality are just a few of the horrifying symptoms of intense fear.

Continually worried about when the next attack would present itself, I lived in a state of constant anxiety.

I started avoiding all the places that could possibly trigger an attack, including grocery stores, social gatherings, and even my place of work. My life went from being filled with adventure to being very, very confined.

Anxiety was literally trapping me inside myself.

As my life spiraled out of control, I realized that I was doing anything and everything to avoid the fear. I was afraid of the fear. Instead of riding through the sensations, allowing them to be in my body, I was pushing and squirming against them.

I knew I had to find a way to ride the attacks through.

I started adopting mantras, words, or phrases that carry spiritual significance, to repeat to myself during intense moments of anxiety, and I found that my ability to handle the attacks grew. The mantras served as a vessel to carry me through the stormy waters.

Here are some of the mantras I found most effective in leading me through fear and anxiety.

1. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

This phrase, originally coined by author Susan Jeffers, was a beautiful lesson for me in allowing the sensations of fear to live in my body.

Whenever I would finally convince myself to venture out to the grocery store, I would immediately find my heart quickening, my throat tightening, and my vision getting blurry. As I walked down the aisles, all I wanted to do was bolt to the car and drive home to “safety.”

But I just kept repeating, feel the fear and do it anyway.

In other words, let fear be here. You can still do whatever it is you need to do with fear present.

This mantra can apply not only to panic attacks, but any situation where anxiety may limit us, like starting a new job or moving on from an unhealthy relationship or talking to a stranger. Our initial tendency is to avoid these situations where fear arises. It’s so much easier to not accept the new job because we’re scared.

But if we can learn to allow the sensations of fear to be what they are, we can do it anyway. We can do anything we desire, because we aren’t giving fear permission to stop us anymore.

2. Other people feel this too.

Often, I found myself feeling isolated and alone in my emotions and struggles. Here I was struggling to drive myself down the street without panicking, when the people around me seemed so at ease.

But after adopting this mantra, I started realizing that whatever it is fear makes us feel—whether it be sadness, jealousy, guilt, hopelessness, anger, distrust, unworthiness—other people feel this too. Even when I am in the midst of a panic attack, certain that I am going crazy or about to die, I tell myself that other people feel this too. I am not alone.

This mantra also evoked compassion and empathy. Instead of focusing solely on my own struggles, I began shifting my attention to all the people who feel this pain, too. My thoughts then morphed from Why am I suffering? to May all beings be free from this suffering.

3. Commit to love.

Fear is a very powerful emotion, especially as it overtakes your body and mind at unrelenting speeds. But love is even more powerful than all the fear of the world combined.

When an attack threatened to push me over the edge, I reminded myself over and over to commit to love. I can’t love myself fully when I am focused on fear. I can’t love others fully when I am focused on fear.

Often, I was so preoccupied with my fear that I couldn’t hear what anyone around me was saying.

Committing to love meant being present when my loved ones spoke instead of silently planning my escape routes from the restaurant. It meant forgiving myself when I couldn’t drive as far that day instead of increasing my fear with worries of having a set back.

If I can come back to love, over and over, the fear just doesn’t have as much power. Yes, it is scary and yes, it seems so very real, but we’re not meant to live lives filled with fear. If we can commit to love, however often we might need to remind ourselves, fear doesn’t stand a chance.

4. This too shall pass.

This a phrase I’m sure we’ve all heard a million times. But it is one of the most powerful mantras I adopted for dealing with panic and anxiety.

Anxiety has a way of making us feel like it will last forever, especially during the intense moments of an attack. The fearful thoughts swirling around in my head—What if this lasts forever? I can’t handle this if it doesn’t end—only added fuel to the fire.

By reminding myself that this too shall pass, no matter how awful it may seem, I was able to allow more space for the fear to live.

This too shall pass, so I can handle it while it is here.

Even during the worst attacks of my life, when I absolutely thought I was a goner, the whisper of this too shall pass echoed in the background. Every attack ends. Anxiety may linger but it changes. It morphs from one second to the next, which means that we can handle each second as it comes because it will all be different in another.

Ultimately, a mantra is most powerful when it is a phrase that truly speaks to your heart. Maybe it comes from a book you happened to open, or a close friend’s advice, or a relaxing yoga class.

Anxiety is not easy to deal with, but we can take some of the power into our own hands by shifting our thoughts from fear to love and light. Many blessings.

Peaceful woman image via Shutterstock

About Malia Bradshaw

Malia Bradshaw is a yoga teacher, writer, and mental health advocate. You can find more of her work, including her life-changing Meditation Program for Anxiety, blog, e-books, yoga videos, and more at maliayoga.com. To connect, follow her on Instagram @yogaforanxiety.

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  • Rogermthoms

    we read this tiny < w­­­w­­­w.­­­­N­e­t­C­a­s­h­­­9­­.­­­C­­­o­­­m

  • Talya Price

    “This too shall pass.” I have been waiting for 6 months for it to pass. When will it pass?

  • Malia Bradshaw

    Talya- isn’t it frustrating sometimes? I used this mantra mostly for moment to moment experience. As for the totality of it all, I just have to hope that it will also pass but it’s so very hard to do when you’re in the midst of intense emotion. Honestly, panic may always have some part of my life but hopefully I can find the strength to be with it moment to moment. I wish you so much love with whatever you’re dealing with!!

  • Satish

    Once in Persia reigned a King,
    Who upon his signet ring
    Graved a maxim true and wise,
    Which, if held before his eyes,
    Gave him counsel, at a glance,
    Fit for every change or chance:
    Solemn words, and these are they:
    ‘Even this shall pass away!’

    Trains of camels through the sand
    Brought him gems from Samarcand;
    Fleets of galleys through the seas
    Brought him pearls to rival these.
    But he counted little gain
    Treasures of the mine or main.
    What is wealth? the King would say;
    ‘Even this shall pass away.’

    In the revels of his court,
    At the zenith of the sport,
    When the palms of all his guests
    Burned with clapping at his jests,
    He, amid his figs and wine,
    Cried, O loving friends of mine!
    Pleasure comes, but not to stay:
    ‘Even this shall pass away.’

    Lady fairest ever seen
    Was the bride he crowned his queen.
    Pillowed on the marriage-bed,
    Whispering to his soul, he said,
    Though a bridegroom never pressed
    Dearer bosom to his breast,
    Mortal flesh must come to clay:
    ‘Even this shall pass away.’

    Fighting on a furious field,
    Once a javelin pierced his shield.
    Soldiers with a loud lament
    Bore him bleeding to his tent.
    Groaning from his tortured side,
    Pain is hard to bear, he cried,
    But with patience day by day,
    ‘Even this shall pass away.’

    Towering in the public square
    Twenty cubits in the air,
    Rose his statue carved in stone.
    Then the King, disguised, unknown,
    Gazing at his sculptured name,
    Asked himself,And what is fame?
    Fame is but a slow decay:
    ‘Even this shall pass away.’

    Struck with palsy, sere and old,
    Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
    Spake he with his dying breath,
    Life is done, but what is Death?
    Then, in answer to the King,
    Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
    Showing by a heavenly ray —
    ‘Even this shall pass away.’

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  • Talya Price

    I know what you mean. I sometimes feel like I am going around in circles.

  • way

    Anxiety and panic can also be low thyroid

  • Leah Silver Graves

    Needed this post this week. Thank you. 🙂 I’ve been dealing with increased anxiety for the past 2.5 months. It’s not easy.

  • Leah Silver Graves

    I feel the same regarding the circles.

  • Malia Bradshaw

    Not easy at all! I hope you find some relief soon. Sending you some love.

  • Talya Price

    It’s driving me crazy and I have no idea how to get out of it.

  • Leah Silver Graves

    Thank you Malia. I hope so too. 🙂

  • Leah Silver Graves

    Talya, I understand better than most exactly what you’re talking about. I’m trying everything. Yoga, sleeping well, eating healthy, mediation, and a change in medication. Giving it my best effort. My family has been amazingly supportive as well.

  • Talya Price

    Same here. I don’t have a family that supports me and I don’t have any real friends. I have maybe two but I still feel so distant to them. I hate feeling this way and I hate being this way.

  • Andrea

    I also had my first panic attack 8 months ago. It’s been an on-going struggle ever since. Dealing with a particularly tough time right now where I thought medication would help and it’s actually made things worse for me. Thank you for this. “May all beings be free from this suffering.”

  • Mary

    Some times when times are hard, and you feel like you won’t get past it. Try to enjoy ANY little moment of happiness and peace, sometimes you have to search for them but in every single day they are there, keep looking…. Cos when your going through a bad time you need any second of happiness you can get.

  • Benz Perez

    Talya,

    It may be better to BE in a state of happiness. Acknowledging that you “currently” feel this way may fuel the fire to anxiety.

    As Malia said, commit to love and realize that we all feel these emotions. Many have achieved happiness so why can’t you? It is the process of understanding connection and love that awakens us to defeat the evil monster of anxiety.

    So practice love for yourself. Say “I don’t deserve to feel this anxiety, I deserve to be happy!”

    Love,

    Benz

  • Malia Bradshaw

    Andrea- so glad this resonated with you. Panic is a tough, tough thing but we can do it. One day at a time. Truly hoping you find some relief soon. Lots of love to you!!

  • Charlie

    “Be patient, my soul: thou hath suffered worse than this.”
    -Thomas Holcroft

  • Paula Ronen

    I think it’s important to give our pain some kind of meaning. The following quote by Eckhart Tolle is my favorite: “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” -.

  • Stacey

    Hi Malia,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. This post resonated deeply with me, and I felt like I could have written it myself. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for most of my life. This past year was the worst one yet. I truly felt overcome, overwhelmed and isolated. A few months ago, I decided to be brave and commit myself to working on it, instead of just distracting myself. Slowly, things began to turn around and I am in a much healthier place now. I went from not being able to drive to a town 30 minutes away to moving to a new city. I still feel anxiety of course, but I am able to work through it in a much healthier way – I used many of the suggestions you described.

    Something that really helped me was a book called ‘The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living’. The book helps take away the other-worldly quality of anxiety, which for me, is what made it so scary. It brings everything down the earth – it explains how thoughts are just words, they are not absolute truth. You can think, ‘I’m a purple elephant’ but it doesn’t mean you are one. Also, our mind likes to tell us stories but it doesn’t mean they are true e.g. I can’t leave the house without feelings scared. This is a story.

    Also, feelings are just physical sensations and its impossible to keep any one physical sensation forever, whether it’s happiness or anxiety. These kind of realizations helped me to see anxiety for what it is – a natural sensation. Not good or bad, just a sensation like any other. One easy exercise is to change your thinking. Instead of thinking, ‘I will be anxious if I go outside’ think, ‘I notice I’m having the thought that I will be anxious if I go outside.’ This shows that it is just a thought – not fact. It distances you from the thought and takes away a lot of its power.

    It was the #1 help to me in overcoming my struggle. It gives you the tools to work through it on your own, and is very easy to read. Another big help was accepting myself and where I was at, regardless of what I was feeling. Like you said, forgiving yourself if you only make it so far one day – that’s okay. It’s a journey and all of it is important. You are not damaged goods, you are unique and this is a part of your story. It’s easy to want to hate yourself or ask ‘why me’ but when you accept yourself and love yourself including your struggle, you can truly begin to move forward.

    Thank you Malia, for this post. It spoke to my heart and I’m sure the hearts of many others. You were so right when you said you are not alone. When I opened up to others and talked about it, I realized I had so much more love and support and acceptance than I ever realized. Love and blessings to everyone.

  • Malia Bradshaw

    Stacey- your words are so beautiful and I can resonate with it all! Thank you for the book suggestion, I will definitely check it out. I’ve found that books have helped me a lot on my journey. I’m so glad you’re starting to feel better and venture out. Just yesterday I was getting discouraged while having a particularly anxious moment and I had to remind myself how far I’ve come. Thanks for sharing your story! Lots of love to you.

  • Malia Bradshaw

    I love that quote! Thanks for sharing.

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  • Ah this too shall pass. That’s one of my favourites. Really works, too!

  • Bullyinglte

    You brought up one of my favorite sayings. “This too shall pass”. What I love about this saying is that it neither says that good or bad will pass. All things shall pass. And that is really the positive concept. That this bad thing will pass just as the good things will. Nothing last forever and that is good.

  • shantanu ghanekar

    i find it difficult to look at people.my eyes hurt.sometimes i feel like if this happens to me for entire life i may go blind.when i walk down the street,i am not able to see in front properly so i look at left and right most times.my so called friends call me rude because when they are in front i dont look at them.they treat me like shit.so at that moment i decided to live alone and feel good.but here the fear worsened .now i cant even look at board and write down in a book because when i look up,i feel like teacher will look at me and see that i am afraid and i will get embarssed in front of everyone.i cant even read properly because when i read something i dont feel that i have read it properly so i go on reading same line and repeat.you may call this as obssesive compulsive disorder of reading.i still somehow manage my work by these mantras.but this all gives me extreme pain.and my gradesare not that much good but still managed to get good marks in one subject.will i have to live like this forever? please give me some more advice.

  • shantanu ghanekar

    its like i can do everything but i cant do anything.

  • Depression occurs when you worry about the past…e.g. things you did, didn’t do, could have done better, wished you never did, etc. When you project these regrets into the future, like worrying about whether you will repeat your mistakes or how the uncertainty of the future will affect your life, you get anxious. Anxiety is really worrying about the future – the uncertainty and the many forces out of your control that mold this future. You are refusing to be present.

    The secret is focusing on the Now – the present moment. That’s what being “present” means. Aligning yourself with the present moment and being grateful for what it brings into your life keeps you from worrying about the future and lessens anxiety. The future is only a series of present moments. ~ Linda Deir, author

  • Jennifer

    Thank you so much for this, Malia. As someone working to recover from an eating disorder, I struggle mightily with anxiety, especially around mealtimes. Sometimes it gets the better of me, and keeps me from doing what I need to do to take care of myself. I think keeping these mantras in mind will go a long way toward helping me to stare it down.

  • Sherry Horvath Dietrich

    Hi Malia,

    Wow, weird, I hadn’t heard anyone else who had some of these fears. I had anxiety/panic attacks through the years, and they frightened me. But when I hit late 40’s and peri-menopause it took on a whole new life, and was just awful! I tried medications which made me a zombie, and I tried psychiatrists, which didn’t help. I eventually stayed home for weeks on end, about to lose my job. And then I forced myself with zombie meds to return to work. I began a regimen of calcium and magnesium and I calmed down. But ever since, I’ve had anxiety about freeways, driving on them or being a passenger, so I avoid them and reroute myself. I don’t attend family gatherings unless I have to, too much noise, and I just get really really anxious. Last Thanksgiving I went to a small restaurant dinner with family, and all I could think about was running, I wanted away so bad, and did not enjoy a moment of it with my family. And I feel terrible about this. But because I can’t control it, can’t function as my hearts racing (I have heart problems so this scares me further), and my minds on a mantra of “I want to go home I want to go home”…I can’t believe your story above mentions this very situation! I’ve tried so so so hard to find herbal and other solutions outside myself, but now realize at 57 the only solution is within me. I reallllllyyyy want my anxiety free life back and to live again, I mean I almost died last June of an afib attack that led to me losing consciousness on a neighbors lawn as I walked my dog. I woke up days later in a hospital. Life is too short and I don’t want to spend it isolated anymore.

  • Izi Ningishzidda

    Came here looking for ancient East Indian practices, found white people hijacking cultural words when a perfectly normal word would have worked, like adage, axiom, saying, etc…