The Disempowering Stories We Tell Ourselves
I wrote down the title and part of this post in my notes in October of 2017. The most recent episode of The Lively Show with Colleen Kavanaugh lit the spark within me I needed to actually finish and publish it. It also gave me clarity to how what I’m about to talk about covers many aspects of my life, not just motherhood…
One of the pieces of clarity I had last year was how oftentimes the story I’m telling myself around a particular set of circumstances that might technically be “true” isn’t actually empowering me in any way.
Buying into and telling myself certain stories around being a mother was one of the things that most brought me down during my first year of motherhood.
The script would often go:
“I’m so tired. This is so hard. I don’t have enough time. Everything falls on me. Why am I having such a hard time with this? He doesn’t understand how exhausting it is to get up with her every night. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in a year and a half. Why am I being so impatient? I need to be more present. Why is everything harder with a kid? There is always so. much. stuff. I’m so tired. This is so hard. I don’t have enough time. Everything falls on me.”
Over and over.
Now, the thing is – some of these stories are true. Being a parent can be extremely hard. I was and often am tired. I haven’t had more than a handful of full night’s sleep in over a year. Things can be harder with an extra person that can’t really speak yet and needs you for everything. But even if these things are true, is telling ourselves these stories doing us good? Are they inviting joy and ease and fun into our lives?
I know they weren’t for me. They left me feel helpless, exhausted, depleted, and just sorry for myself. No matter how much help I was offered, until I changed the script, the Law of Attraction would step in like a self-fulfilling prophecy to make sure that I remained feeling helpless, exhausted, and depleted.
Eventually I realized that I could see things differently.
Now, as much as possible, I try to swap it for something like:
“I’m choosing to be there for my daughter as much as possible. I’m choosing to follow my gut instinct. It’s okay if I get tired or impatient or hit my limit. I am human. I ask for help when I need it and I prioritize time for myself. I have all the time I need. Motherhood is the greatest gift. There is magic in every day. I love how much Talie wants to cuddle and be with me. And it’s also okay if I need space to be my own person for awhile. I can offer her comfort and also allow her to feel uncomfortable feelings as she learns her own independence. I don’t have to protect her from her emotions. I can simply offer her support and stability. I am so thankful for a husband who gets up with her and lets me sleep in, who makes us breakfast every morning, and gives me all the time I need. I am so thankful for the time we get as a family. I am so thankful to have the flexibility and time to be Talie’s mama and to work when I want to.”
Both stories are true and yet they feel totally different, don’t they? Our power lies in what we focus on and the stories we then tell ourselves.
Flipping the script to statements like this helped me breathe more space and ease back into my life. It took me out of the space of being a victim and instead of waiting for anyone to pick me up (even though they tried to and never could because I wasn’t allowing them to), it placed me into a state of empowerment. I now created the reality I wanted. I claimed the things I wanted and stopped hiding under negativity and fear.
Many mothers often have the world on their shoulders. If you’re in the negative spiral, do not for one second feel guilty or ashamed. I was there too as these are common scripts to get consumed in. My intent here is to simply hand you back your power. You have the ability to see it differently. You have the ability to choose differently. Not for anyone else but yourself. Because joy, ease, and happiness are not only possible but are your birthright. We can see it as to be world weighing us down or we can see it as us lifting up the world.
The lens we choose to look at our lives with is entirely up to us. I’m just here to remind you that there’s more than one pair of glasses available to you.
The Lively Show episode I mentioned earlier made me realize that even though I originally wrote the title of this blog post with motherhood in mind, it also very much applies to other areas of my life, especially surrounding my work and this strange place I’ve been in in my work since becoming a mama.
My old script often looked something like:
“I don’t know what I’m doing or how I’m going to make money. I want to make money to contribute to our family’s wellbeing. I want to have the time to create again. I don’t know how to find balance. I need to make more money, but I don’t want to do just anything. Why isn’t this working? I want others to accept what I do as legitimate. I want x to accept me and be proud of me and what I do. We will always have enough to get by.”
The thing I realized after listening to that episode is that, in this case, most of this script isn’t actually even true. I have found clarity about what the next step is, but that old script will often keep playing. I don’t actually need to make any money. We are thriving without it and I do contribute to our family’s wellbeing in many other ways. The acceptance I really need is something I already feel and have from myself, my ego just tries to tell me otherwise. The story that we will always have enough to get by is certainly something I deeply believe, but is that all I want? Just to get by? Couldn’t this story be juicier?
What I’d prefer my script around my work situation to be is something like:
“I am so grateful for this magical opportunity of time and space I’ve been given. I get to follow my curiosity, excitement, and joy with no pressure. I get to create whatever I want. I get to play with the concept of alignment, truly prioritize it, and see what happens! I welcome any and all abundance that flows naturally into my life from doing so. Our family is thriving. We have ample income to pay our bills, save money, travel, and purchase the things that add a little joy to our lives. We are beyond blessed and are able to shower others with the overflow of abundance we receive for ourselves. We operate from a place of trust and fullness. We are generous because we know there is no limit and that money is simply energy. I am immensely grateful for the fullness and abundance of time, energy, love, and money we have in our life.”
Now, one thing I’d like to clarify is this is not an exercise is lying to yourself. It’s simply an invitation to have an honest look at the scripts and stories replaying in your mind to see if they are serving you or not. There is always another perspective.
I don’t have a job becomes I have all the time in the world to explore the things I love to do right now.
I am so tired becomes I’m choosing to pour my presence and devotion into this season of life because it will make a big impact.
I am ill becomes I take this time to lovingly tend to and nurture my body back to health and am so thankful for the support system I have around me.
These are obviously very basic examples, but the point is just to focus on what is good in your life instead of what is causing you pain or struggle. It doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about what we are experiencing or feel what we feel (some seasons might just take us to a low place for awhile), but the negative feelings don’t need to be on an unnecessary feedback loop in our minds.
I also want to point out that you can insert some potential realities into your script that might not be things that prove to be consistently true in your life, but that you’d like to welcome in more. Perhaps you’ve had glimpses of these realities or simply don’t have any opposing evidence to their existence that might create resistance around them.
Maybe you found the exact thing you were looking for with a for free sign on it on the side of the road once…“I always come across the exact thing I’m looking for.”
Maybe someone was giving away free tickets to an event you wanted to attend right as you were walking by…“I’m always in the right place and the right time.”
Maybe you found $10 in a used book one time…“Money flows into my life in unexpected ways.”
The point of this post is to become aware of the stories we are telling ourselves and to honestly evaluate how they are empowering or disempowering us. From there, we can edit them to better encapsulate the reality, the feelings, and the experiences we desire to invite into our lives.
Be patient with yourself. If an emotion comes up, allow yourself to feel it and move through it. Sometimes it’s necessary to get angry or sad or to create healthy boundaries. Give yourself compassion when you notice unhelpful scripts playing. Oh, there you are. I see you. Nice try. Not today. This doesn’t require us to beat ourselves up or take it so seriously. It’s kind of fun to play with and to see how our the reality and landscapes of our lives begin to change as the stories we tell ourselves change.