The first 5 years of my daughter Lulu’s life were filled with happiness, I loved being a mom and I was getting a lot of attention for having made the choice to do it on my own. My friends were telling me how amazing and brave I was. Strangers would tell me how they wish they had done the same thing; it was a complete high. But I began to realize that I didn’t feel brave and amazing, I felt like a loser. “I couldn’t get a man so I did this on my own” was the thought running in my head.
The moment I realized what I was thinking was the moment my life began to change (again). The first piece was in place, noticing the thought in my head: “I’m a loser, I didn’t get married”. Now what do I do with that??!!
I had this seed of information about being a single mother, that I was using it against myself, as proof that I was not worthy of love. Wow. Not fun. Not in anyway did it feel good to know that I was carrying these thoughts in my head and heart.
Negative thoughts are tenacious, like weeds in the garden of our mind. I knew that in order to truly clear them out I would need to get at the root.
It always starts with a thought, the discomfort that comes with negative thoughts is there for a reason, it is telling us there is something we need to pay attention to. Tuning into those thoughts, rather than pushing them away is where all the good stuff happens. It can be super un-fun for sure, but I promise you that there is nothing more powerful than understanding your own emotional life.
What was really brave and amazing was working through the thoughts of not being worthy of love, and all the super icky feelings that came with them. Okay, having a child on my own was too, but, clearing that mess in my head and heart made room for me to focus on us as a family rather than how I was feeling about myself.
We give a lot of thought to the foods we put in our bodies (especially when we’re pregnant), we read what’s in our cleaning products so we don’t expose ourselves to harmful chemicals, we’re careful about what we bring into our homes whether by removing our shoes at the door or not watching certain TV shows. But we don’t always think about the thoughts we allow in our heads. Now is a good time to explore and tend to any lingering questions or doubts. It’s natural to question our big decisions and it’s important to like our reasons for having made them.
If you’re looking for more information there are lots of books out there that can guide you. Brene Brown, Liz Gilbert, and Martha Beck, just to name a few authors, write about how important it is to be aware of our thinking. Not specifically in relationship to becoming a mother, or parenting, but our thoughts aren’t limited to motherhood and parenting (even if it is an obsession right now).
Donna Agajanian, ACC, ICF