Why is it that the stories we tell ourselves have a tendency to become so negative once we become mothers?
I sat in on a MamaCommon class today with the lovely Keira Merkovsky, LSCW and she was talking about all things anxiety in motherhood. A silent battle many of us fight but never tell a soul. We rationalize our racing mind. We ignore the lump in our throat. We hide the intrusive thoughts. We discount any feelings of worthiness. We try to forget about the mounting fears. We try to tame it all through control of anything and everything. Despite this, the anxiety never really goes away, it just surfaces more on some days than others.
Motherhood can present us with such contradictory experiences being that so much is IN our control (schedules, making memories, what friends our kids can play with, environment, etc), yet so much is also OUT of our control (can’t predict the future, health issues, safety, temperaments, etc). This dichotomy can be a feasting ground for an anxious mind!
So how do we tame these negative stories we tell ourselves and help diffuse the anxiety?
One tip Keira offered that really resonated, was to use your physical symptoms as a cue that your body is physically experiencing anxiety. Your “fight or flight” sensors have been activated in your brain and your body senses threat, whether it’s real or not. Some people feel a clenching jaw, a racing heart, sweaty palms, a lump in your throat. Notice it. Acknowledge it without judgement. Just see it from across the room. Let it do it’s thing.
Another tip I picked up from the Dan Harris book, 10% Happier, was to understand that thoughts are not facts. Thoughts, including emotionally driven ones, are fleeting and will pass. They are not meant to be permanent. If you’re feeling irrationally anxious about your child’s health, for example, just step back and examine that thought. Is it real? Are there facts to back up this thought? Or, is this just my mind feeling anxious and scaring me? Similar to the previous paragraph, notice the thought. Acknowledge it without judgement. Just see it from across the room. Let it do it’s thing.
Understanding how to face and navigate these anxious moments can make such a difference for our emotional health as women and mamas. What is the best tip you’ve learned to get through an anxious phase?