I mean let’s get personal.
I want to have a conversation with the voice in your head.
But first, let me ask — How AWARE are you of this voice?
How aware are you of the inner workings of your mind, the constant stream of repetitive thoughts, the beliefs you carry about yourself and the world, the stories you tell yourself about who you are and what you need to be in this world?
What are the things you tell yourself about being a mother?
Do have high expectations for yourself and when you fail to meet the mark, do you play the shame game?
Are the thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself kind, loving, and understanding?
Honestly, would you talk to your closest friend or a loved one the way you talk to yourself?
How often do you doubt yourself?
How frequently are you-
Labeling yourself a good or bad mom, celebrating a parenting “win” or always declaring epic failure?
Loving the STRENGTH and BEAUTY of your body or casting judgment on it and focusing on your flaws?
How much #momguilt is weighing you down?
These are essential questions to ask yourself, to really sit with ponder and reflect on because this internal dialogue impacts your behavior, relationships, mothering, and YOUR HEALTH AND HAPPINESS.
It is likely that if your inner state is dark a dreary and you are down on yourself that your behaviors are matching the way that you feel. There is a good chance that you will seek comfort in food, substances, shopping, entertainment, relationships, or any other mechanism that helps you drown your sorrows.
But perhaps you have found a healthy way of coping with your emotions?
It has been said that you can't out exercise a bad diet. Well you know what you also can not clean eat your way out of having a horrible narrative about yourself (trust me I‘ve tried.) All the self-limiting beliefs and emotions that you are not healing are equivalent to consuming a highly processed diet, and they are wreaking havoc on your well-being.
So many of us are walking around with undigested emotional matter, unhealed traumas, and no sense of true belonging to ourselves; and as a result (and I can't help but take the food analogy further) we are constipated, backed up with garbage thoughts about ourselves and thus we are becoming highly toxic. We need complete digestion and elimination of our negative thoughts, emotions, and beliefs.
Most of us live with a barrage of labels. We have unhealthy expectations for the way that we do just about everything, expectations that are primarily based on our childhood experiences and societally conditioned beliefs. We punish ourselves by measuring our sense of worth against these external standards many times feeling like we are not enough. I find this is especially true when it comes to motherhood, and even more so if you have any fantasies about perfection or everything being in your control.
I’ll be honest, it took me a lonnnnng time to start listening to what the Chatty Cathy in my head was bantering on about. I was unconscious of her constant belittling and her many judgments, disconnected from how the thoughts and beliefs I had about myself were impacting my behavior and relationships.
Thankfully—somehow, motherhood, even with all of its challenges and uncertainty— has helped me HEAR the HURT I was inflicting on myself for so many years. Maybe it’s the way my child loves me so unconditionally (well before he turned 3 and discovered the word hate), that I developed a deeper meditation practice, or just that I decided to have a relationship with myself?
Whatever the case becoming acutely aware of the self-criticisms, fears, worries, harsh expectations, guilt, shame, frustrations, anger, labels, and roles I over-identify with— has created the space for me to untangle myself from feeling unworthy and the overwhelming belief that I am #notenough.
Perhaps motherhood sparked a commitment to have a loving and kind relationship with myself because I hope for my child to accept himself. Though I recognize that I am in no way fully responsible for him doing so, I do believe that my actions and reactions have some influence.
Children are highly conscious beings, fully present and whether they seem like they are paying attention or not, they are! Ultimately our self-talk and beliefs about ourselves come out one way or another. It shows up in the language and labels we use with our children and significant others. It is conveyed in the way we reward and praise “good” behavior and the way we discipline and scold displays of negative emotions or “naughty” behaviors. This by no means implies that I do not believe in the need for discipline or limiting setting, just rather that I TRY to do so mindfully with emotional intelligence for myself and my child (but honestly we all lose our shit sometimes, so no need to feel guilty mama.)
The language that we use in conversation with ourselves and others is essential. Whether conscious of it or not some of what we say and how we say it is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, and when our hurts and expectations land on small beings in such a way it can become a part of the story they are writing about themselves. If we are modeling acceptance of ourself and sending the message that getting messy and failing is an option, we are giving our children (and others) permission to accept themselves and their imperfect okay-ness.
Don’t we all want to be happy, and want our children to experience joy as well?
A critical component of happiness lies in being content with WHO YOU ARE. Yet many people on their quest for happiness are attempting to source the ingredients of the happiness pie from other people, material things or professional success; searching and seeking far and wide instead of taking a closer look in the mirror and learning to love and accept what they see.
So back to the talk with “the voice”— What are you saying to yourself?
Exercise— go to a mirror, see yourself and take a hard listen— what do you hear?
If you hear any hurtful noise, repeat after me "I love and accept myself for all that I am and all that I am not" or any version of a self loving and accepting affirmation that you like.
If you find it hard to tune in, have a listen to the language other women/mothers in your life are using, what are they saying about themselves? When you have a #momsnightout, and you take the inevitable selfie for Instagram, what are the immediate criticisms voiced about the image? What insecurities are surfacing?
When your discussing motherhood, how many labels, doubts and judgments are verbalized?
If you are open to looking it is often times easier to become aware of our own negative self-talk we have when we see it in others, the world can be a powerful mirror for seeing.
We are not separate in our suffering, often times we may express how we are feeling differently but we humans experience the same hard emotions and judgments one way or another.
We need to hear ourselves and others.
Awareness is the first step to rewriting your story (and the key to making any change.) In his book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle says something to the effect of " In awareness lies freedom." In fact, he and many other great spiritual teachers and psychologist assert that you are NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, you are not the conditioned beliefs that you hold; instead you are the AWARENESS of thoughts and beliefs.
We have to allow ourselves to feel and face the hard emotions that many of us are determined to avoid, embrace our darker parts with acceptance, understanding, and a whole lot of LOVE.
By taking a personal inventory and uncovering the stories and criticisms, you have running on a loop in your mind — YOU create the ability to hit the pause button and decide you are not settling anymore. You realize that you can declare that you are more than enough and completely worthy of all that you have and desire.
If old beliefs rear their ugly heads (which they will) simply ask “why am I allowing this?” And begin again on the path of a kinder and more compassionate way of being with yourself.
It is challenging to shift the language we use with ourselves and to be present enough to catch ourselves when we slip back into old thought patterns. However, flipping the script just might mean you start living from your HEART rather than being trapped in the madness that is the mind.