To contrast Madness Mantra, this is a prayer, koan, or just plain reassuring phrase that gives the speaker peace or confidence, or at least forestalls a panic attack in a dangerous situation.
Be advised, reading these entries may or may not actually make you brave... but it is all pretty reassuring!
If it works at a crucial moment, it may be adopted as a Badass Creed; alternatively, characters may use an existing Badass Creed to galvanise themselves in a moment of panic.
See also Madness Mantra. Might be used in a Meditation Powerup. May or may not coincide with a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
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Anime & Manga
Death the Kid from Soul Eater manages to turn what was seemingly a Madness Mantra into one of these during his prologue chapter, right after he realizes the actual body of the pharaoh isn't as symmetrical as he thinks.
Death the Kid: "It's all in the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! In the way! IT'S ALL IN THE WAY!"
Neon Genesis Evangelion: "I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away..." Not that it works very well. Sure, he doesn't run away when he starts chanting this... but it doesn't really stave off insanity. We also have Asuka's, "I don't want to die!" in The End of Evangelion. Textbook example of this trope devolving into a Madness Mantra.
In an early episode, Shinji continually recites the steps for loading and firing the Eva's rifle to himself during practice. This being Evangelion, it naturally doesn't help in actual combat. A crossover with Fullmetal Alchemist even has Mustang lampshading that repeating training instructions during battle over and over again are a sign that Shinji is scared shitless.
Asuka also developed a self-reassurance tactic later on: if someone said something negative (or rather, what she perceived as negative) towards her, she started yelling "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!" over and over again in rapid succession as if she was trying to lock reality out of her mind.
Kirito in the first episode of the Sword Art Online anime adaptation: "I will survive in this world!"
Azami of the Deadman Wonderland series is shown to use one of these. An example parable to the above-mentioned Asuka's, it comes across as both a Survival Mantra and Madness Mantra: "I'm all right. I'm all right. I'm all right. I'm all right. I'M ALL RIGHT!!" Poor thing.
Clare of Claymore has a simple "I will survive." and "I will not die!"
Simon in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann ends up curled up in Lagann's cockpit mumbling "not my business" over and over after seeing Yoko and Kamina kiss.
Kamina has this all over the place, with the most famous three being "Who the hell do you think I am?!", "Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb!", and finally "Gattai! (Combine!)"
In Last Exile Mullin Shetland chants his mantra, which runs to the effect of "Disith bullets will avoid Mullin Shetland's body" as he's lifted up on deck in his role as cannon fodder. It helps that the mantra contains his name.
When Mullin falls in love with another grunt and rewords his mantra to protect her instead, the inevitable happens.
He lives anyway, so I guess the mantra has a blanket clause.
Possibly the most direct version is Hana Hatsuno's "(I'm) not scared!" refrain in King of Braves GaoGaiGar.
To be specific, Hazuki (and later Momoko) whimper this when they encounter ghosts. Played to hilarious effect in one episode of Dokkan, where Doremi and Hana-chan turn it into an actual chant...Aiko eventually gets fed up with the scaredy cats behind her.
Gundam Wing: At the end of the anime, Heero Yuy literally says "I will... I will... I WILL SURVIVE!"
Busou Renkin: "I will fight...I will fight...I will fight...I will fight...I will fight...I WILL FIGHT!"
In Kinnikuman Brocken Junior is mortally wounded when attacked by three superhumans after having thrown away his own super power source, an eagle badge. Muttering 'I have failed in my duty', he slowly closes his eyes as death approaches. But then a friend throws the badge back to him. His response is to mutter 'I must do my duty...I must do my duty...I must do my duty' before screaming in the manliest possible way 'I MUST DO MY DUTY'. What follows is the first and last instance of his new finishing move which defeats his target. This moment is pretty heart breaking because all his teammates are aware he's going to die if he exerts himself and scream his name, so he gives an insanely long speech about duty before he pulls off his move. And mumbles 'I have done my duty' before dying.
In Shaman King, Yoh has his "Everything will work out" motto.
In Gantz Kurono Kei claims that he always wins because he always believes he will win and that others lose because they've already accepted that they might lose.
In Azumanga Daioh, Tomo and Osaka end up in the doldrums after summer vacation. To try and get them ready to go back to school, Chiyo starts up a chant of "Get motivated! Get motivated!" Unfortunately, keeping them motivated proves to be like spinning plates, and she quickly gets worn out.
Then she tries it on someone else who is suffering from the same problem. Said someone else is Ms. Yukari.
In the Hellsing OVA, a wounded Alexander Anderson starts shouting "FORWARD!" repeatedly while cutting through Alucard's ghoul army in order to get to him.
In an issue of Deadpool, Weasel starts chanting the Litany Against Fear when he and Al are in the Box.
With the heroes of Green Lantern, their battles often involve battles of the spirit as well as physical, so when they are hard pressed and derided as weak and worthless in that moment of pressure, a Lantern can often find strength by remembering their Badass Creed, "In Brightest Day/In Blackest Night/No evil shall escape my sight..."
In the fanfic series Name, the unnamed primary character repeats her mother's last words as a reminder to keep her cool under extreme pressure.
In the Firefly fanfic Forward, River uses the words "I am functional" as her Survival Mantra, after making the resolution that she is not going to let her traumatic past control her anymore.
In Not Your Usual Veela Mate Harry mentally repeated "Not there, not there, I'm not there!" after taking a portkey for the first time since the Triwizard Tournament.
In Blinded By the Light Harry kept repeating variations on "'My name is Harry Potter. My mother was Lily and my father was James. I go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I am fifteen years old. My favorite color is blue. I have to kill Voldemort. I want to kill Bellatrix Lestrange." to keep himself sane in-between torture sessions. It had...mixed results.
In Cake and Lies, a Portal fanfiction, human!Wheatley's survival mantra is "I am a shotgun." This leads to an amusing scene....
Wheatley: I am a shotgun... I am a shotgun... I am a shotgun... This is the worst survival mantra ever... I am a shotgun...!
In Film/Dumbo the circus train has his own little mantra while climbing a steep hill "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."
On Ice Age: The Meltdown, Sid tells Diego that because he fears the water, that makes him its prey. So when Diego has to swim, he repeats to himself, "I am not your prey! I am not your prey!"
Used in the begining of A Bug's Life when the swarm of grasshoppers come to take the ants' offering of food. The ants are all gathered underground in the colony waiting and listening. Atta, terrified, chants, "They come, they eat, they leave. They come, they eat, they leave."
Toy Story 2 — when the rest of the toys come across Barbie, Mr. Potato Head breaks out into "I'm a married spud, I'm a married spud, I'm a married spud..."
When Marlin and Dory are stuck in the Jellyfish fields, Marlin invokes this trope while playing it straight. He keeps Dory awake by asking her to repeat where P. Sherman lives, and keeps himself awake by repeating 'Stay awake!'
Film - Live Action
In Alien, when Ripley is getting ready to fight the alien inside the escape shuttle, she sings to herself, "You are my lucky star... Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky."
The 13th Warrior: "Lo, there do I see my father. Lo, there do I see my mother, and my sisters, and my brothers. Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me. They bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever."
Ironically, it is a funeral chant that was heard at the beginning of the movie. The heroes are facing down an entire army and the heroes' leader, who starts the chant, already knows he is dying from being poisoned in the last confrontation. The others join in as they don't expect to survive either and it gives them the courage needed to fight anyway.
Deep Blue Sea: Starts Biblical ("Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.") then the blackness kicks in ("Because I carry a big stick and I'm the meanest mother fucker in the valley! Two sharks down, Lord! One demon fish to go! Can I get an Amen?").
Stan from Stephen King's It uses his Scout Promise as a child. It doesn't really work.
Also: "All he could do was hold his bird book out in front of him and recite, as loud as he could, the name of every bird he could remember."
Interestingly the mantras they use against It work because they believe they work
Inverted in The Wizard of Oz with, "Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!" and the Cowardly Lion's, "I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks"; both of which just served to make the characters more afraid.
In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, we are briefly given a shot of Milo and Audrey in an escape pod as Milo nervously chants "it's only a grease trap, it's just like a sink, it's only a grease trap, it's just like a sink..."
From the MST3K-featured film Puma Man: "Each man is a god; each man is free."
Crow: So if each man is a god, where does that leave God?
In the 2007 film version of I Am Legend, Will Smith as Robert Neville likes the song "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley, but it doesn't really become a mantra until he sings it to calm down his dying dog just before he has to strangle her to death because she was infected with the vampire zombie virus while saving his life.
Zulu: "Men of Harlech, stop your dreaming / Can't you see their spear points gleaming / See their warrior pennants streaming / To this battlefield..."
The Goonies. While running through trees in the night, Chunk plays this straight and also inverts it.
Chunk: I'm not afraid of the dark. I like the dark. I love the dark. But I hate nature. I hate nature!
The hero in Flight of the Intruder, while taking a second pass at the most heavily defended target in all of North Vietnam, shouts the "and though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death" Psalm over the sound of the flak.
Predator has a character reciting "Long Tall Sally" before his final stand - but then it turns into a Madness Mantra.
A Bridge Too Far. Robert Redford keeps repeating "Hail Mary, full of grace" as he paddles across the river under fire from German machine gun and mortar fire (Truth in Television for the character he was playing, who was too tense to remember the rest of the prayer). A terrified army chaplain can also be seen saying "Thy will be done...they will be done..." in the same scene.
1984's Dune and 2003's Children Of Dune adaptations both contain shortened versions of the Litany Against Fear above.
In The Dark Knight Rises, whenever a prisoner attempts the climb to escape from the Pit, the rest of the prisoners gather to cheer them on with a chant of "Deshi! Deshi! Basara! Basara!" which is Moroccan for "Rise".
In War Horse, a WWI-soldier crosses no-man's-land alone and against orders to rescue an entangled horse. On the way, he starts slowly saying Psalm 23.
The Litany Against Fear in Dune is a prime example. full litany I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
In A Tale of Two Cities: the so far not religious-seeming Sydney Carton uses the mantra "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die," to comfort himself as he prepares to go willingly to the guillotine.
Many scary things happen to the character Chyna Sheperd in Dean Koontz's novel Intensity. She gets through them with the mantra "Chyna Sheperd, untouched and alive," repeated over and over.
After hearing a story about aircraft mishaps, the main character of William Gibson's Pattern Recognition has a habit of mentally repeating "he took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots" to get herself through panic attacks.
Animal Farm features Boxer the dim witted Horse who survives on "I will work harder!" and "If Napoleon says it, it must be right."
The Sholan Alliance Series has a group of Litanies which are designed to help one overcome various mental/emotional hurdles. In no particular order, they are the Litanies for Pain, Relaxation, Fear (inspired by the one from Dune, above), Clear Thought, and Preparation. They're never actually spelled out within the narrative, and in fact weren't more than named/mentioned until the seventh book in the series, where they were included on otherwise blank pages between chapters, spaced throughout the book. On a side-note, they were actually written by members of the books' fan club.
In C. L. Wilson's King of Sword and Sky it's a Badass Creed used as a Survival Mantra during torture: I am the steel no enemy can shatter. I am the magic no dark power can defeat. I am the rock upon which evil breaks like waves. I am Fey, warrior of honor, champion of light.
In Tad Williams' Tailchaser's Song, the hero is taught a mantra/litany against fear to give him strength when in dire need which is also used to restore an insane companion to his trueform.
In Ripper Mountie Zinc Chandler turns the RCMP get-your-man slogan into one of these while struggling to suppress his epileptic seizure.
In Tales from Jabba's Palace, Bib Fortuna spends several minutes at the end of every day reciting a mantra that soothes his nerves and focuses his objectives: "Of the day's annoyances, these," followed by all the inconveniences of the day. Over the course of the story, Bib's first entry is "That Jabba still lives," but during the epilogue, his list shortens considerably and the first entry becomes "That I had to drop the teaspoon eighteen times." This is because he has been "recruited" by the B'omarr Monks, and he is a Brain in a Jar attached to a Spider Mech, which aren't exactly the most dextrous machines on the planet.
There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force.
Compare and contrast? The Sith Code;
Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.
In Lord of Chaos: "This comes of trusting Aes Sedai. Never again; not an inch; not a hair."
Arguably more of a Madness Mantra as he doesn't use it to calm himself, or mobilize hidden strengths.
In A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Patrick's Rune is used for active protection as well as a comforting prayer. Starts out stating where you are or who you're with 'in this fateful hour' ('At Tara in this fateful hour' or 'With Chuck in this fateful hour', for example) and continues:
I place all Heaven with its power, And the sun with its brightness, And the snow with its whiteness, And the fire with all the strength it hath, And the lightning with its rapid wrath, And the winds with their swiftness along their path, And the sea with its deepness, And the rocks with their steepness, And the Earth with its starkness, All these I place By God's Almighty help and grace Between myself and the powers of darkness.
"The Lorica of Patrick" is also used in Alexander Yang's Midnight World series as a Vampire Hunter crew's battle prayer. They recite The Lorica in Bullets from Beyondbefore and during the battle with four vampire mercenaries, and in Chance with No Rules while Aeneas fights states-vampire Koshelev barehanded:
''I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Though here at journey's end I lie In darkness buried deep, Beyond all towers strong and high, Beyond all mountains steep, Above all shadows rides the Sun And Stars for ever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, Nor bid the Stars farewell.
Timequake: "You were sick, but now you are well, and there's work to do."
In Of Mice and Men, it's hinted that the story George tells Lennie about the little farm they'll get when they have money has become the survival mantra for both men. George has told it so many times, in nearly the same words, that Lennie has it memorized and can finish his sentences for him.
Ravi from the Bloody Jack series repeats "Happy puppy, happy puppy, happy puppy" to himself whenever he's afraid for his life. (He believes if he dies at that moment, he'll be reincarnated as a happy puppy.)
A young Vlad Dracula escapes life as a Janissary in Count and Countess and chants, "I am a lion of God," to help himself make the 200+ mile walk home on his own.
Parodied in "Nefarious Times We Live In", a short story by Woody Allen. When the protagonist is beaten and starved by the men of an insane cult leader, he claims that "the only thing kept me from going insane was the constant repeating of my private mantra, which was "Yoicks."
In John Bellairs' The Curse Of The Blue Figurine, Professor Childermass is climbing a mountain on a stormy night, searching for Johnny Dixon, who has been abducted by a ghost. The professor is afraid of heights, so he repeatedly quotes the "Lay on, Macduff!" speech from Macbeth and recites a prayer to Saint Michael to keep himself from panicking and turning back.
In "Valley of Darkness" Lee Adama mutters, "Headshot, reload, headshot, reload" as they wait for the Cylon boarding party, as he had only a few explosive rounds, each of which had to be individually loaded into the under-barrel attachment of his pistol.
"Serenity Now" from that Seinfeld episode was intended to be one of these, but it actually leads to insanity. "Serenity now, insanity later".
In an episode of The Avengers Emma Peel notes Steed repeating phrases of nursery rhymes over and over and fears it is a madness mantra. It is actually to keep a mind reader out of his head and she joins in with him once she figures this out.
One episode of Dharma and Greg has Dharma talking about Greg's parents' sex life. In response Greg tries to clear his mind by running through the Bill of Rights "Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure. Fifth Amendment: Self-Incrimination. Sixth Amendment..."
MI High, in the episode "Millionaire Flatley": "Frank's a good man in a crisis...Frank's a good man in a crisis..."
Babylon 5, Doctor Franklin, after having been stabbed in Downbelow, ends up crawling through the corridors while saying "I want to live!" and "I wanna do it all over again!" over and over again.
When confronted by a guardian of the Technomages, Vir Cotto stands his ground, reciting his credentials over and over:
My name is Vir Cotto, diplomatic attache to Ambassador Mollari of the Centauri Republic!
In the Supernatural episode, Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie, Sam is getting chased by evil clowns and mutters over and over to himself, "If it bleeds, you can kill it... if it bleeds, you can kill it.... if it bleeds, you can kill it...." And then he finds out that they don't bleed.
In "Meld", as Tuvok's mental control is slipping he begins reciting "Structure. Logic. Function. Control. A structure cannot stand without a foundation. Logic is the foundation of function. Function is the essence of control. I am in control. I am in control."
KIM:(desperately) The only thing we have to fear is fear itself! CLOWN: Keep repeating, Harry. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. ALL:(mocking) The only thing we have to fear is fear itself! CLOWN: And how about There's no place like home. There's no place like home. (Evil Laugh) Try clicking your heels together three times. Oh, but your legs are restrained, aren't they?
A Lifetime Movie of the Week, The Debbie Smith Story, depicted the title character being dragged from her home and raped. Throughout the terrifying ordeal, she recites the 23rd Psalm so as to distract herself.
Most Notably "THE EMPEROR PROTECTS!". Poor, poor Imperial Guard.
Too bad they're not Adepta Sororitas (them the Emperor really does protect). Speaking of whom, there's also the inquisitorial battlecry/creed/mission statement, "BURN THE HERETIC! KILL THE MUTANT! PURGE THE UNCLEAN!"
"They have their foul gods on their side! But we have the TANKS on OURS!"
"All the Emperor asks of you is that you HATE!"
Grey Knights: "I am the hammer! I am the hate! I am the woes of Daemonkind! I am the hammer! I am the hate! I am the END!"
In The Way of the Tiger, Avenger sometimes has the option to recite the 'Ninja No Chigiri' when confronted by frightening enemies.
"I will vanish into the night; change my body to wood or stone; sink into the earth and walk through walls and locked doors. I will be killed many times, yet will not die; change my face and become invisible, able to walk among men without being seen."
In Sweeney Todd, Johanna repeats lines from her earlier song with Anthony, in order to stay sane while locked within Fogg's Asylum.
In the re-done version of Carrie the Musical, the Lord's Prayer has this function for Carrie. The first sign that she's losing it after the incident with the pig's blood is that this doesn't work any more.
Ironically when he neglects his Survival Mantra at the end of the game, he is actually struck by lightning (though it's implied that it was summoned by the Sorrow). It may have helped that he actually taunted the rain...
Half-Life 2: "Although they call me crazy, I care not, for thou art my helper, my strength, and my saviour. I have been laid down in a pit of darknesses and the shadow of death. And thy anger has pressed down upon me; and all thy cares have come down upon me. And from this bed I cry out for the kindling of thy Light! For the days of my life have vanished like smoke, and my bones are parched like ash, and let all my impurities be as... fuel for that fire! Until nothing remains, but the Light alone." Of course, this being Father Grigori, the line between Survival and Madness Mantra may be a bit blurred...
Tomb Raider (2013): Lara Croft frequently says "I can do this. I can do this." throughout the game.
In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, at least three of the main characters have Survival Mantras playing in their heads, discovered when Kreia teaches you how to read minds. These three are arguably the most traumatised out of all the team members (An eyeless Dark Jedi, a Sith torturer-turned-smuggler, and a reformed war criminal), and have some pretty interesting mantras.
Visas Marr: As my feet walk the ashes of Katarr, I shall not fear, for in fear lies death...
In the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night, Shirou repeats "it isn't a mistake!" to himself while fighting Archer in order to convince himself that his ideal is worth having. Many people consider this scene to be the Crowning Moment Of Awesome for the game.
Later, he adopts a more conventional I don't want to die! I don't want to die! Surprisingly, this one actually works.
In Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony always kept in mind something that her mother told her. At one point, remembering it gives Antimony the courage to march into a spectral inferno. "Always remember... remember I will never send you into danger."
Avatar: The Last Airbender : In one childhood-flashback, Zuko tries to console himself with "Azula always lies, Azula always lies..." after Azula informs him that their father is going to kill him.
Subverted in that she was actually telling the truth that one time.
How does Transformers Animated Prowl do it? He says it himself in one episode: "Stillness... then strike!"
Animaniacs: "A clown is not a hairy spider. A clown will not bite me and throw me in the basement." Admittedly, it doesn't work very well...
Similar to the Wizard of Oz subversion above, in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "A Knight to Remember", Piglet made his way through a dragon's cave chanting "I am not brave, I am not brave..."
In The Simpsons episode "Kamp Krusty," Bart is seen keeping himself sane by reminding himself that "Krusty is coming...Krusty is coming...Krusty is coming..."
Invoked in an episode of Hey Arnold! where a psychologist/psychiatrist has taken a claustrophobic patient on the subway to help her face her fears using the phrase "Big open spaces. Big open spaces." When the subway breaks down, the doctor freaks out too and yells at her that the mantra is a crock.
Not exactly the same, but one episode of Justice League has Batman looping Frere Jaques in his head to stop Dr. Destiny from messing with his mind. This is when Dr. Destiny has previously incapacitated the rest of the League, is at his most powerful, and is dangerously close to Batman.
Mrs. Gleeful has one in Gravity Falls: "Just keep vacuuming, just keep vacuuming..."
Toy Story of Terror has "Combat Carl never gives up, Combat Carl finds a way". Jesse replaces the name with hers.
On Peter Rabbit, when Benjamin gets scared of something, he likes to remind himself that "Rabbits are brave, rabbits are brave, rabbits are brave..."
During the Second Battle of Fallujah, Staff Sergeant David Bellavia of the US Army's 2nd Infantry Regiment decided to single-handedly assault a house where a half-dozen entrenched insurgents had earlier fended off his entire squad. Right before moving into a room which had held a cunningly-constructed barricade and machinegun emplacement, Bellavia overcame his own fear by trying to find a Survival Mantra in his mind, and remembered watching The Exorcist just before the battle. Thus, he charged into close combat with a half-dozen insurgents while screaming "The power of Christ compels you!" over and over again. He lived, and killed all but one insurgent in the building, including one with his pocketknife. The last, left alone because he was too exhausted to even check if they were there, was shotgunned by his squadmates later.
The poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley is a popular choice for many people facing difficult situations.
A well-known example is Nelson Mandela, who recited the poem to his fellow inmates in Robben Island prison.
For Catholics, the St. Michael prayer could qualify for this trope, as many have been known to repeat it in times of trouble.
Or anything involving St. Jude (the patron saint of impossible situations).
23d Psalm, particularly the first four verses:
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You set a table before me in the sight of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and justice shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for years to come.
The Lord's Prayer, any part:
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread,
Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the power, the Kingdom, and the glory
Forever and ever,
And the Divine Mercy Prayer: Jesu Ufam Tobie (Jesus I trust in you).
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
The 91st Psalm
One for a program on an attempt to run back to back marathons in Death valley. The support team noticed the runner had created his own mantra.
Pain is a sensation. Sensations are to be enjoyed. I am in ecstasy.
"The Mary Ellen Carter" by Stan Rogers (rest in peace) became this in addition to being a Crowning Music of Awesome after the February 12, 1983 sinking of the Marine Electric off the coast of Virginia in a bad storm. The ship's Chief Mate, Bob Cusick, clung to a damaged lifeboat for three hours in hypothermia-inducing temperatures, screaming part of the chorus in between waves to keep himself from letting go and drowning. Here's the man himself telling the story (plus a performance of the song) from the documentary One Warm Line.
Italian writer Giovannino Guareschi during his time in a German POW camp: "I won't die even if they kill me." It worked.
After Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were fatally shot in Sarajevo, Franz begged Sophie to live on for their kids (she didn't make it, though), and then repeated "It's nothing, it's nothing, it's nothing..." all over. He didn't make it, either.
Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs use the Serenity Prayer as a survival mantra.
While man-hauling a sledge on Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedtion, Apsley Cherry-Garrard repeated the mantra "You're got it in the neck - stick it - stick it - you've got it in the neck" as a distraction.
Steven Spielberg declared that during the Troubled Production of Jaws, a Drunken Song from a certain scene, "Show Me the Way to Go Home" ("I'm tired and I want to go to bed.") became one of those to the crew (who even cried as Shaw, Scheider and Dreyfuss sung it!).
"Self-talking" does actually do good. When one is in a stressful situation, saying "it's going to be okay" or some variation to oneself is exceedingly helpful in calming one down.
And if that doesn't work out, then swearing a lot has been known to increase one's pain tolerance.
If countless spy and war movies are to be believed, the whole "Name, Rank, Serial Number" routine becomes one for a prisoner being interrogated. It's the only thing they are required to reveal, and as torture or interrogation becomes more intense, it becomes the one thing they can let themselves say, over and over, to keep themselves from letting any other information slip.
Truth in Television: many British army personnel, most notably RAF pilots and the SAS, are put through a severe mock interrogation lasting up to 72 hours. If they reveal anything other than name, rank and serial number they are failed. note While most military biographies focus on the severity of the interrogation from the point of view of the recipient, those delivering the interrogation are also British Army personnel. Who must be learning how to deliver effective grilling. Torture allegations have repeatedly been made against British forces in Northern Ireland and Iraq.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn's mantra under KGB torture was ''Intense pain is never prolonged. Prolonged pain is never intense."