Self Help

Assertive Mantras

As a recovering people-pleaser, I read a lot about the condition, personality quirk, disease… whatever you call it. The information I’ve gathered has been instrumental in the path to recovery, for which I am grateful. Once in a while, this guidance reverberates in my soul and attracts me to an individual. And then, I learned about Karen DeBonis and her story. Assertive mantras are just one of the tools she so graciously shares.

Does it get any better than her webinar, Wipe Your Feet Before You Walk All Over Me? The name alone is genius, surely it’s chock full of wonderful learning.

Enamored with her down-to-earth personality and willingness to share, I reached out to Karen . As a result, I am thrilled to bring you this exclusive work of heart. Enjoy.

Meet Karen

Karen DeBonis writes about motherhood, perseverance, and people-pleasing, an entangled mix as told in her memoir GROWTH: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor they Survived, subsequently available for representation. A happy empty-nester, she lives in an old house in upstate New with her husband of thirty-nine years.

I’ll be honest: healing the disease to please is a process. It’s taken me years, and I still have work to do.

– Karen DeBonis

How to Create an Assertive Mantra

Every day, I look in the mirror and say, “I’m not a people-pleaser anymore.”

I know it isn’t entirely true. Yes, I’ve learned to set boundaries, to be okay with others’ disapproval or dislike of me. Yes, I’m better at expressing my needs than I used to be.

But at times, I revert to my old people-pleasing ways. I fail to speak up for myself. 

I don’t beat myself up about my failures because it’s part of the learning process. Even smokers may have to quit up to thirty times before they have long-term success. So I’m reminded that any bad habit will take time to break.

What I do with my failures is to learn from them and use them as motivation to further improve.

Failures are Motivation to Improve

One of the ways I improve is to create assertive mantras. 

I’ll explain. A mantra is “an often repeated word, formula, or phrase.” 

You may be familiar with mantras as used in yoga practices, where a single word or sound can cause changes in the body’s vibrations. 

But even if you’ve never folded yourself into child’s pose or performed the cat-cow stretch, you probably have mantras you use in everyday life. gives a great example: If I hear the “less is more” mantra one more time, I’ll scream. 

Unfortunately, the mantras we create about ourselves that play on a continuous loop in our heads are often negative: I’m so fat. I’m a loser. Nobody likes me. Sound familiar? Imagine how that constant barrage of negativity affects our mood, behavior, and relationships.

And imagine the potential effect if we rewrote those mantras to reflect better on us, as a practice of positive self-talk. I love my body. My superpower is (fill in the blank). I am worthy of love.

You can create mantras to influence all kinds of behavior. As a recovering people-pleaser, I have tailor-made assertive mantras, and I’ll share my guidelines for writing them:

Assertive Mantras: How to Create Your Own

  1. Write down a negative message you have about your people-pleasing.
    • Example: If I say “no” when people ask a favor, they won’t like me.
  2. Now, write a positive message to counter it. It sounds simple, right? But this is the part that can be tricky, so here are two pointers:
    • Make it personal – use “I” or “me” or “myself.” Don’t make it about others because you can’t control their behavior.
      • Wrong: People have to stop asking so much of me. My friend should like me even if I say “no.”
      • Right: I say “no” when it serves me best.
    • Use the present tense. Channel your fourth-grade language arts teacher. Don’t write your mantra in future tense like the wrong examples below. Instead, write it as if it’s true at this very moment. Don’t worry if it feels awkward; this mantra is for your ears only. (Although I suggest sharing your mantra with trusted allies.)
      • Wrong: I will start saying “no.”
      • Right: I say “no” without regret or explanation.
  3. Remember:
    • The only approval I need is mine.
    • Saying “no” shows respect for myself.
  4. Repeat daily as many times as you like. Bonus points if you say your mantras aloud!

For more examples, download Karen’s PDF.

What I believe, based on my own experience, is the more I repeat an assertive mantra, the more it becomes part of my subconscious, part of what I call my essence. When that happens, I start to believe it, and when I believe it, I consciously and unconsciously change my behavior to make the mantra come true.

Here’s a simple mantra to remind you!

Say it, believe it, change your behavior to make it come true. 

How Assertive Mantras Work

Assertive mantras have worked for me in tangible ways, like when I ask the grocery store bagger to put the eggs on the top, or tell my husband I want to watch a movie he’ll hate, or reply to a friend’s text that I don’t have time to go out to lunch. 

Internally, deep in my soul, it’s hard to quantify the change. But I feel it. I feel my positive self-talk changing neural pathways in my brain, changing my subconscious in ways I’m not even aware. 

Now, when I picture myself in my head, that woman stands tall, speaks her truth, owns her place in the world. She didn’t always look that way. The me I used to picture was driven to please others, too afraid of what they would think or say. As a result, the image in my head is the person I want to be. 

You can make this change, too. Assertive mantras are just one tool in my toolbox; for more ideas, watch my Youtube video. Or, learn more about my focus groups and sign up to be notified when the next one is scheduled!

Lastly, here’s a final mantra to get you started. Look in the mirror today and repeat after me:

I am worth it!

For More Information

You can see more of Karen’s work on her website.

Also, follow Karen on FacebookTwitterInstagram

Thank you for reading this post, I hope you found it as encouraging as I did. Thank you, Karen, for your insight and words of wisdom.

For more information on people-pleasing, check out the article, Are You a People-Pleaser?

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