Us Mamma’s are g-r-e-a-t at telling ourselves stories and lots of them. If you’re part of a regular Mums group, you’ll know before your almond chai has even arrived at the table, you’ve probably compared your child every which way until sunday, judged yourself for not having read enough books or done enough tummy time and scratched your head as to how put together all the Mums are while you feel like a screaming hot mess. The reality is, these stories are the same stories the Mum sitting next to ou is probably thinking
Stories such as….
“I don’t think I’m doing enough for my child”
“He isn’t eating much, I wonder if it’s because my cooking sucks”
“Shitzel, Austin only says Mamma and Dada (and not regularly) while the kid next to his sounds like a Siri reading the dictionary”
“URGH! I still look pregnant”
“That Mum does not like me”
and on and on they go.
The reality is these stories are not exclusive to Mammas. All people tell themselves stories. From the moment were born we find ourselves making sense of the world by telling ourselves a story about what is happening. As Tony Robbins would say, we are meaning making machines.
The issue, however, is a lot of these stories are told unconsciously and are often made up of the limiting stories experienced by our parents, the media and societal thinking. These stories have the ability to shape our lives, and more importantly the lives of our children.
Think about it for a moment, how many times have you told yourself the following
‘I’ll never lose the baby weight; my body has changed and it’s never going back’ – STORY
‘I’m so tired, my baby will never sleep. I can’t cope’ – STORY with elements of fact
‘Am I even a good Mum?’ – STORY disguised as a question with a judgmental tone and also super not helpful… a better question, How can I be even better today?
‘Urgh, that Mum drives me nuts, who does she think she is, she fed her baby milk from a bottle, doesn’t she know better’ – SELF JUDGEMENT STORY disguised by projecting on some other Mum to try and make ourselves feel better. This one is a sad one as it also causes alientation
How about we take this one step further, what about the stories other more experienced Mum’s share with us;
‘it’s easy now, wait until they crawl, walk, potty train, <insert some other developmental milestone here> then it’s going to get tough’
‘You’re going to have your hands full with this one, wait until he hits the terrible twos’
‘Let me tell you, you’re going to be tired for the next decade of your life’
What stories are you listening to?
Let me share an example from my own life…
The other day I had a friend ask me how I was “coping” with Motherhood. Hearing the word ‘coping’ made my ears prick up, I remember thinking, Im not coping with Motherhood, I’m loving Motherhood.
As I began to share how much I was loving being a Mum and how great Austin was, she interrupted me and replied with a laugh, “its ok for you now, you’re in a little bubble. Trust me, before long you’re going to be screaming and yelling as at Austin as he drives you nuts. He’s a dream now, but trust me, he’s going to be a little shit before too long’ and on and on she continued.
I started to feel myself want to defend and then it dawned on me, this doesn’t need to be my story. This might be true for my friend, BUT its not going to be my story. It also gave me room to show compassion, when she asked me how I was, she wasnt really interested in my real experience. She wanted someone to bond with over the difficulties she was having as a Mum.
Don’t get me wrong, of course there are going to be moments where Austin will push my buttons, or ill feel tired after a long day of keeping up with an active little boy, but this doesn’t mean Ill be yelling and screaming and hating Motherhood.
You see, everything we tell ourselves, whether good or bad or any advice we believe, again good or bad, are all stories. The experience we have from these stories is what creates the life we live.
As a Mamma, I believe we have a responsibility to tell ourselves more empowered stories so we can ultimately create the lives we want to live and empower our children to have a positive mindset.
I believe we owe it to ourselves to foster a mindset that allows us to enjoy the precious gift of motherhood.
It reminds me of the story of the Mum who had both children tragically killed in a car accident. She shared how she wished she had just enjoyed her kids more each day, rather than get caught up in the bullshit of worry and negative thinking.
The language we use matters
Back to my friend.. As I listened to her share her experience of Motherhood, I found myself become more and more aware of the language she was using. She referred to her kids as being nightmares, terrors and so on. She also shared how she was “dead” with fatigue. The language we use in our stories changes the intensity of them. This of course is great if our stories are empowered, but when they’re limiting the impact can be extensive.
Rather than nightmares, why not switch it to challenging, energetic or something that brings an opporunity for positive, rather than negative. I’m not for a second suggesting you bullshit yourself, but how you frame a situation impacts how you see it
My kid is such an annoying shit, he only does what he wants
My Kid is really determined, this will hold him in goodstead when he’s older
I am so exhausted……
I need to get an early night tonight, how can I do this or
… you get my drift….
There are 4 types of stories
There are four types of stories
- Empowered Stories – these are the stories that make us feel great and lead to positive action towards goals and quality life experiences. They are founded in truth and lead to positive outcomes, whether emotionally or physically. These stories create potential and move us forward. An example of an empowered story could be ‘I haven’t lost my baby weight yet, but I am confident I can. Each day I love exercising and eating nutritious food as I build my long, lean, beautiful body. Ive got this!’
- Delusional stories – these are the thoughts, although empowered are full of BS. For instance, im 171cm white woman, a delusion story for me would be “I am Naomi Campbell. I am a black super model with killer legs’. These stories often come up when we’re afraid or not ready to accept a part of ourselves
- Disempowered stories – these are the limiting stories preventing us from having what we want. They can be based on identity statements (I’m not a great Mum), or can be about a situation or belief (Motherhood is hard, this is going to break me)
- Destructive stories with truth – these stories are the worst as they are easy to believe. Destructive stories have elements of truth but they don’t help you. Remember our story about being tired and the baby never sleeping. This would be an unhelpful story
Stories 2-4 are limiting stories and they dont help you
How to change our stories
The great news is, these stories can be changed. Our goal is to turn delusional, disempowered and destructive stories into empowered stories. There are a few ways we can do this
- Write a list of all your empowered stories as well as your limiting stories. Take the limiting stories and re-write them to be empowering. The reason we start with empowering stories is they provide perspective for how you can re-write your disempowered stories
- Add the word yet (except for delusional stories, sometimes its just great to acknowledge the story and let it go, never telling it again). For instance, ‘I haven’t lost the baby weight’, can be turned into ‘I haven’t lost the baby weight, yet’.
- Take an area of life you might be struggling with and ask yourself this question, If I was excellent at <insert topic> what stories would I be telling myself e.g. just say you want to get into shape, some empowered stories could be ‘I love eating nutritious foods and moving my body daily’, ‘exercise can be fun’, or I’m loving this journey of taking care of myself.
Keep an eye out on stories
Once you are aware of your stories, your job is to keep an eye out for the ones not serving you and transform them. A little trick I’ve been doing is anytime I catch myself in a limiting story I say ‘Delete, I…..<insert a new empowered story> or if the story has some truth ill say “Great, thanks for the wisdom and making me aware of X, I now will choose to take Y action’. Its fun seeing how many I can bust in a day.
This is sounding a bit like too much hard work
Is that a Story I’m hearing? Whether you like it or not, there is an internal dialogue happening regardless if you choose to do something about it. All I’m suggesting is you become conscious of the story you’re telling yourself and aligning them to create more of what you want and allow you to live in alignment with your highest self.
Now, I would love to hear from you, what’s one limiting story as a Mum you’re currently telling yourself. Do you want to let it go? If yes, what could you replace it with? Post in the comments below. Remember, it’s never too late to change your story, you just have to do it.