Recovering from a Breakdown:
The Power Of Motivational Statements

by Beth McHugh

Recovery from a severe mental breakdown is undoubtedly the hardest task you will ever have to do in your life. Forget pushing babies down birth canals, passing kidney stones, losing the use of your limbs, or grieving for a loved one — fighting your way back to mental health or even maintaining emotional equilibrium while suffering from a chronic mental illness is the hardest battle of all, because it is a battle with the self. And there is no more difficult, cagier, or more elusive opponent. Hence we need all the help we can get. Friends and family are the first line of defense, and mental health professionals the second. But we also have to learn to help ourselves, as we don't always have access to other people at all times. We must learn to strengthen our own personal resources.

One of the simplest things we can do to help ourselves is to have a small set of sayings displayed around the house that touch us in some way. They act as reminders of what we can be, of what we can achieve, and what we need to remember. They have the power to ground us when we are caught up in a world of negative thoughts and actions. Looking back at the first article in this series of "Recovering from a Breakdown", I introduced the saying of Sidney Smith who stated: "It is the greatest of mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can." In the early days of recovery, this is an excellent statement to have pinned up on your wall, sticky-taped to the bathroom mirror, or placed in the photo flap of your wallet. By looking at it regularly each day, sayings such as these can give you the encouragement and motivation to try. Not necessarily to succeed every time, but to try. As Woody Allen once said: "80% of success is just showing up." Here, he is encouraging us to just try. At times, that is the most we can ask of ourselves.

Public libraries and bookshops abound with books full of quotations, witty sayings, and life-inspiring affirmations — there is certainly no shortage of comments on the human condition that you can use to assist you during difficult times and help keep you centered and grounded.

Tips for using inspirational sayings:

  • Choose sayings that resonate very strongly with your current life situation. If there are several issues going on in your life at any one time, you may need sayings to deal with more than one issue.
  • Don't plaster your house with a hundred sayings; this will only dispel their effect. Instead, choose 3 or 4 at the most to put up in prominent places in your home at any one time.
  • Put these sayings where you will see them, but also where you feel comfortable with them. On the one hand, it's good to have one on a bedroom wall where you will see it on waking, but you may feel uncomfortable putting one on the fridge where nosy neighbors may see your signs and ask questions you'd rather not deal with.
  • Change your sayings every couple of weeks. Familiarity not only breeds contempt, but it makes us less able to take in the message. It's easy to find several sayings on the one theme that you can alternate regularly.
  • Print off both large and small sayings depending on where you intend using them. Large ones are great for bedroom walls; small ones are good in wallets. If you are artistically inclined, you can make your own copies using pretty writing and even small pictures. Spending time creating these will help you to better take the message of the saying on board.
  • You may also want to keep a large selection of sayings for all occasions. Small autograph books are great for this purpose — you can write dozens of inspirational sayings into such a book and the convenient size means you can slip it into a bag or pocket and carry a permanent portable life coach with you wherever you go. You can then simply flick through your collection till you find one that suits the situation in which you find yourself.

Other articles by Beth McHugh:

Beth McHugh Recovering From A Breakdown - The Power Of Small Steps I
Recovering From A Breakdown - The Power Of Small Steps II
Recovering From A Breakdown - The Power Of Lists
Recovering From A Breakdown - The Power Of Motivational Statements
Recovering From A Breakdown - Benefits Of Helping Others
Recovering From A Breakdown - The Power Of Counting Your Blessings

Dealing With A Passive-Aggressive Manipulator

Beth McHugh chose to make a career change, switching from science researcher to psychologist, as a result of encountering life problems of her own. Her personal journey of self-discovery, involvement in support networks and academic training have all made unique contributions to the ideas and methods she employs as a counselor. Beth offers email counseling, and frequently publishes articles on various mental health subjects. More of her articles can be found at