This post is part of My Journey Forward, a blog series about finding purpose during motherhood, and building motivation as a Stay At Home Parent; to have the ambition and courage to go after our own goals. After all, life doesn’t stop when they place that baby in our hands or when black leggings and dry shampoo become a daily ritual. It’s time to take your dreams off of the back burner. Join me as I rediscover myself as a Stay At Home Mom, crush my goals, and help you find more meaning in your day to day.
Fear is a funny thing. It can either motivate us or prevent us from moving forward. It can be the driving force behind achieving our goals or it can be the road block that keeps us from trying. What ever roll it plays in our life, it is a constant reminder of either who we are afraid to be, or what we are afraid to do. It lives all around us, reminding us that we are not good enough, and we don’t deserve to be who we want to be. Fear can push us to be good parents, but then remind us that we’re not. Fear can hinder us from going after our dreams, and tell us that there is no point.
How does fear work within your life?
What is the fear that is holding you back? What keeps you from acknowledging how great you really are? What is keeping you from loving the life you are living? What is preventing you from moving forward? It’s time to recognize what our fears are and label them? We need to dig into the reasons that lay beneath those fears, then it’s time to take them head on. It’s time to face our fears: To remove the block that keeps us stuck, and to find a new motivation that emanates a more positive purpose.
Evicting Negative Thoughts and Building Boundaries
Over the course of my lifetime I have collected a number of negative statements that have settled into my thoughts. Thoughts that have taken residence in my brain. Statements that I have acquired through comments from what people have said to me, phrases that I have told myself, and information processed through the ideologies of society.
These statements play on repeat every single day, and all day long. Statements that make me question my self worth, hate my body, deter me from accomplishing goals, bring on anxiety and depression, and limit me from excelling at my fullest potential.
You’re not smart enough, you are too fat, too skinny, you are not talented, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not worthy enough, people don’t like you. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
If you are a Dr. Phil fanatic like me, then you have probably heard about his podcast, Phil in the Blanks, where he talks to successful people. He digs into their past to reveal a not so perfect life. He then breaks down their drive, and ambition, to get to the root of what has made them so successful. Characteristics of a goal oriented path; regardless of what lies behind them.
In his podcast he includes discussions on helping you, the listener, get their life on track in a series he calls, Living By Design. In this series, he talks about internal dialogue; messages we play over in our minds that can be both positive or negative. He goes on to say that if we take those messages, and we categorize them into factual statements or opinions, then we can determine what is true and what is not. Breaking them down further, he goes on to ask, are your thoughts getting you closer to a goal? If not, get rid of them.
You telling yourself that you are not good enough is an opinion, it’s not a fact. You believing that you are not talented enough to go after your dreams is not going to get you closer to your goals. If the opinions of yourself are damaging the process of becoming a better you, it’s time to evict them. It’s time to make room for positive thoughts, and facts, that are going to move you forward.
Changing Our Internal Dialogue
Positive affirmations are statements you tell yourself every single day that will help you push through obstacles and replace negative thoughts. They are factual statements about yourself that will continually drive you in the direction you want to go.
Telling yourself that you have been eating better and exercising, and you feel great, is a positive affirmation that extinguishes the concern that the number on the scale has not changed. Telling yourself that you are mindful of your behavior towards your children, and are working hard to be an empathetic parent, disintegrates the negative idea that you are a bad mom. Repeating the fact that you have been staying late at your job, to work on your projects, denounces the idea that you are not good enough to ask for that promotion.
Identifying the facts about what is getting you closer to your goal overrides the negative voices you carry in your head. It clears your mind so that you can remain focused on what is important — becoming the person you want to be.
“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out. I am brave, I am bruised. I am who I am meant to be, this is me.”
This Is Me, Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Ensemble
It’s true, we’ve carried these negative thoughts with us for a long time. Some of us believe that some negative statements are what drive us, but let me tell you, that is not true. They only hinder our potential and they hold us back. We become afraid to make certain decisions because we think our negative statements are protecting us. They are not there to keep us safe. They’re not shielding us from our fears, they are fueling them. They’re not true, and they don’t belong in your mind. They are not the person you want to be. It’s time to turn them off. It’s time to pull the plug and tell them to move on. Pack them up and ship them out to make room for a better and brighter internal dialogue.
I spent a lot of time hating what my body had turned into after I had my daughter. My postpartum recovery was long and difficult. For a long time, I felt like I was never going to feel whole again. After a long, excruciating year, I was back on track. I was eating healthy, exercising regularly, and I felt confident again. After fifteen months, I was wearing all of my old clothes again. I felt great, and so very proud of how far I had come.
That confidence was stolen from me for a brief moment because I allowed a negative statement dictate my train of thought. It was early afternoon. I had just finished feeding my daughter lunch, and had eaten a healthy salad packed with veggies, and fruit. I was wearing shorts, which I had not done in a long time, and I was about to head out to the park to get some exercise with my little one.
My phone dinged. I had been chatting with my mother. She mentioned a video that she had seen on my Facebook page. At first we were talking about just the video, and then it came, “You look so thin.”
“The less you respond to negative people, the more positive your life will become.”
I knew exactly where the conversation was heading, and I knew that if I didn’t shut it down she was going to make a statement that would ruin my whole day. “I feel great,” I immediately responded. “I’m eating better and I’m working out regularly.” Unfortunately, she didn’t get the hint. She proceeded to tell me that I needed to gain weight. Her words crept into my head and put themselves on repeat. They circled my thoughts like a parasite, and they infected my conscious before I realized what had happened.
For the next few days, I had an uncontrollable urge for sweets and carbs. I was eating excessively, and I lost my motivation to work out. It wasn’t until I got on the scale 7 days later, and saw that I had gained 8lbs, that I realized what was happening. My mother’s “you’re too thin,” statement festered my anxiety into a binge eating panic. I allowed someone else’s false opinion of me control my actions, and as a result I was the one suffering from it.
We can not always control how people treat us or stop what they want to say about us. It’s up to us to break down the opinion from the facts, and to deny the negative thoughts. We control us, and we control what plays in our mind. We do that by building boundaries with people who project negativity. We stop taking others people opinions of us personal.
Don’t be afraid to reject negative comments from others. If they don’t understand that they are being hurtful or demeaning, then maybe that is someone we see less of or reject altogether. Establishing boundaries is an important process when we commit to removing toxic, and negative thoughts from our minds. Refusing to allow any new toxic information in strengthens the positive affirmations, and makes room for true facts that will help you continue to grow.
What are you telling yourself that is holding you back from being the you that you want to be? What is keeping you from attaining your goals? Identify them. Then, create positive affirmations that you want to replace those negative thoughts. Make a list. Repeat those to yourself every single day. Every time a negative thought manifests inside your mind, deny it. Push it out. Tell yourself that it is not true, and it’s not going to move you closer to becoming a better you. Then, establish boundaries. Refuse to allow any new negativity in. Put your foot down and be an advocate for yourself. As Dr Phil says in his Living By Design series, ‘The only person you can control is you.’
If you are a new mother, deep in the trenches of this new life you are not accustomed to, there’s a chance you’ve been asking yourself this on a regular basis. It’s been weeks since you’ve had any type of adult interaction, you’re covered in spit up stains and breast milk, you’ve been lugging around this beautiful 8 lb-ish creature, and you may not have seen the direct sun light. Your identity is skewed, lost somewhere between who you once were and the mother you are now becoming. How you once identified yourself has been ripped away and replaced with the responsibility of taking care of another human being. You don’t feel the same. You don’t even recognize the woman who’s been staring back at you when you catch a glimpse of your wrecked self in the mirror.
Days turn into weeks, weeks into months and as the years pass, our motherly duties become etched into who we are. Our responsibilities as caregivers consume all other labels we may have identified with before, and we get lost in the abyss of motherhood. We put our own goals, aspirations, and dreams on the back burner. Who we are, or who we wanted to be, becomes that pre-pregnancy dress that hangs in the closet. Before we know it, our identity is altered and we find ourselves missing the person we were. Not that we don’t love our children (because we do), but we don’t recognize who we are anymore. We can’t find the time to re-establish us after our child is born. Time ticks on, and before we know it, we’re gathering dust in the darkness, just like that dress.
I was leaning against my kitchen counter, sipping my cold coffee, watching my daughter play, as I tuned in to Dr. Phil. Just about every day I make sure to turn the channel to witness the latest train wreck. I’m not sure why I am so drawn to the show. Perhaps it’s a mixture of things. With an obsession of the human brain, I’ve always wanted to understand the logic behind a frayed disposition and irrational thinking. The show is also a reminder of how my life could have ended up. My story begins the same way as most of the guest who appear on Dr. Phil’s show – A chaotic childhood, unstructured teenage years, and a combination of unfortunate circumstances that could have ended in tragedy and disappear. Psychotic break downs, suicide, neglected children, drug use, … A list of could have been’s, yet, are not.