‘As a [woman] thinketh, so is [she]’ – James Allen
No doubt you’ve come across many articles and books about how our thoughts impact our success and the way we live our lives. Many times, if we spoke the words out loud that we think about ourselves, we would actually be horrified at our lack of kindness, manners and respect.
I can remember struggling with this when my children were still quite young. Many of my days I spent with the thoughts repeating in my head: “You’re not coping, you’re such a failure”. I didn’t know how to deal with the constancy of interruptions and demands on my time and myself, which led to these thoughts playing over and over.
And yet, along with words of encouragement from my husband and friends, I know that neither of those phrases was true: in fact, when I look back on that season, I am proud to say that I was truly present with my children, I was creative, and things were mostly under control: I was hardly a failure as a mum!
Unfortunately, in the midst of it though, it’s tough going. And now that I am in business, I am kept up at night with the thought ‘I didn’t do enough today’ and ‘I wonder if I am paying enough attention to my kids?’
If you are in the same situation where you are being kept hostage by negative thought patterns, here are a few steps you can work through:
Have a look at what you’re saying and why:
Write down the phrase, and then write down a few thoughts about why you think it’s there. How true is it, and what is the evidence you have that it isn’t true?
Find another phrase that helps you to reframe that thought in a positive way:
For example, I’ve taken ‘you’re a failure’ and changed it into ‘you are okay honey, you can do this’ (see the self-love I’m giving myself there?). Sometimes I just breathe those words to myself as I feel my anxiety rising.
Catch that negative thought:
Every time it jumps in, mentally screw it up and throw it in the bin! Repeat your positive self-talk, write it out if it helps.
Catch yourself doing something right:
This concept comes from Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager, when you set out to catch employees doing the right thing. How often do we congratulate ourselves on getting a hard task done, or being flexible with our time because a child needed us? Try catching yourself when you do something well, and affirm yourself! (Great grocery shopping mum! You showed great patience with that child throwing a tantrum, mum!)
Grow your collection of positive words:
Yep, I’m going to tell you to collect some things: quotes on Pinterest, stationery that tells you to ‘dream big’, notecards that help inspire you with words of affirmation. Surround yourself with positive messages and share them with others. It’s like using one candle to go on and light the candles of others around you.
This process of dealing with negative thinking can be a battle that keeps going day after day. I want to encourage you to keep working on it, keep being kind to yourself, and keep being honest with others.
Remember: You are a wonderful, special, creative mother who is working hard to make the most of her days to create a future for herself and her family. You are enough.
“No matter how much I get done, or is left undone, at the end of the day I am enough.”
– Brene Brown
Tanya Cunningham from Coaching Mum is passionate about empowering women to discover their purpose, and her business coaches mums to embrace their unique vision of motherhood. She lives with her husband and two boys in Canberra.