6 Loving Mantras to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say


Sometimes we just don’t know what to say.

Situations may call for words. We want to give them. We want to speak love.

But we’re empty.

Here are six mantras I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh that we can repeat to others so they’ll know we love them.

1. “I am here for you.”

Just showing up is often the bulk of the work. Your presence is a marvelous present.

But tag the gift of your presence by saying the words “I am here for you.” It imprints upon others that you really do care.

2. “I know you are there, and I am very happy.”

But what about when someone shows up for you? That often leaves us at a loss for words, too. How can you let them know how much it means to you that they showed up?

Keep it simple. Tell others you see them and how it makes you feel. That’s another way to show love.

3. “I know you suffer, and that is why I am here for you.”

When you notice a friend is in pain, say so.

It’s an extra layer of love on top of the first mantra. Not only are you here for them, but you see their hurt. Acknowledging the pain of others can go a long way in helping heal it.

4. “I suffer, please help.”

This one may be the hardest to say. And even harder if the person you’re talking to is the one causing your suffering.

Your pride may prompt you to say the opposite—“I’m totally fine; I don’t need your help.” But acknowledging that you need help often prompts others to become the help you need. It’s an exchange of love.

5. “This is a happy moment.”

When you experience victories, these words come easily.

But when your friend experiences victories, celebrate with them, too, as an act of love. Even in ordinary moments, find reasons to be grateful for the here and now, together.

6. “You are partly right.”

When you are praised, say this to remind yourself not to take the compliment too seriously (maybe out loud, maybe silently).

Likewise, also say this when you are criticized (at least say it internally). By accepting your common humanity, you won’t become “a victim of a prideful illusion” nor will you condemn yourself for a weakness.

When we improve our communication, we improve our relationships. Using our intention to listen deeply and using our words to love profoundly, we understand more and are understood more, one person at a time.


Which saying can you use today? Which one would you like to hear? Please share in the comments.

updated from the archives

26 thoughts on “6 Loving Mantras to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

  1. Laurie

    I love these responses. They not only express emotions that are hard to share, they also invite ongoing communication. I am often don’t know what to say. These will help.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree with you, Laurie: “they also invite ongoing communication.” It can be easy to shut down a conversation when we only offer platitudes that help no one. But real communication is so much healthier.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I wish I had said these more often myself, Theresa. Too often we think we have to say something profound or lengthy, when what people really need from us is direct presence and love.

  2. Maryleigh

    Especially in this time of Covid when hugs are not always welcome, the right set of words are – I thought 3 was especially helpful for me: ““I know you suffer, and that is why I am here for you.” It’s a good outreach idea – depending on the situation and the person which parts to say out loud! Personally, I want an entire book of sayings like these! What a great graduation gift idea, too!

  3. Lois Flowers

    These are all helpful responses, Lisa. I especially like the last one, said quietly to ourselves when we are praised or criticized. It takes some practice to acknowledge the helpful parts of criticism and discard the rest, but it makes it much easier to swallow, doesn’t it? Hugs, friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m having to swallow that one myself this week, Lois. I was given some criticism that I’m having to balance with other words. It’s never easy for me. My mind initially goes to one of two extremes: either reject the criticism altogether, or take it to its extreme and assume I do nothing right. But I need to remember the criticism was only “partly right” and I’ll be okay. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know what you mean, Michele. If I’m given a few minutes to think about it, sometimes I can come up with something, but right off the bat I’m often at a loss for words too.

  4. Bev Rihtarchik

    This is so timely. My good friend and neighbor, who has been battling pancreatic cancer, just received news the cancer has metastesized to her liver. In these moments, when you’ve prayed, written notes, talked, listened…you just don’t know what to say. “I’m here for you,” is probably the simplest and best thing I can say. believe we get ourselves in trouble when we try to say too much. Thanks for sharing this!
    Bev xx

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I’m so sorry that your neighbor got such hard news, Bev. 🙁 I pray for her as well as for you that your presence will be a comfort to her in these days ahead. I’m certain you will be a blessing.

  5. Donna

    Lisa, these mantras are all so powerful! Working with hurting people I can tell you how much “seeing” them with a loving statement can make an impact. Thank you for sharing these!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I can imagine what a blessing you are to those you work with, Donna. If you can help us feel seen even online, I know you really help people feel seen in person!

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