As humans, dealing with challenging emotions is our birthright. But as mums we have it tougher than most. After all we’re not only on our own emotional rollercoasters (often fuelled by hormonal changes and identity shifts) – we’re the emotional barometers for our children and families, too. So often, it feels like being at peace emotionally is just a distant dream.
Do you find yourself thinking, ‘When XX happens (the baby sleeps through the night, my toddler starts daycare, I lose the baby weight weight) then I’ll be happy/at peace’? But then that moment never comes, because another roadblock inevitably falls in your path?
I know that when I encounter a challenging situation, my first response is to be reactive and feel disheartened: ‘Why me again!?’ Or: ‘What else now?!’ Of course, this just sets off a chain reaction of negative emotions, including feeling weak, overwhelmed, ashamed, and guilty about how I’m showing up as a mum. All that fun stuff!
But with training and practice, I’ve learned to direct my focus to abundance and feeling like I’m enough. Follow these three steps to step into emotional peace and the sense of ‘enoughness’ right now – even when the going gets tough.
Here’s the thing: life can be peachy and beautiful. But just like the weather, it changes. We are alive beings and we change in a dynamic process that goes from good to bad, better to worse, and then back again.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but when you embrace the fact life isn’t always peachy – and you don’t always feel good – the sooner you open yourself up to living an abundant, empowered life. As your emotional state goes down, it’s worth remembering that it will always come back up again.
In my last blog, I talked about some of the negative feelings (like: ‘I feel like a terrible mother!’) that can swamp us and our families, and how we should approach these feelings from a state of knowing instead of feeling. Do you feel that things won’t get better? Okay, but what do you actually KNOW? That life doesn’t stay peachy forever, and neither do negative emotions and challenges. Look around you – maybe they’re already gone!
Before we start this next point, I want to make sure of one thing. Whatever you do, don’t think of a blue elephant.
Sounds easy enough, right?
But hang on: I bet now you can’t get that damn blue elephant out of your mind.
You’ve probably heard this one before. It’s such a simple example that beautifully illustrates how focusing on what we don’t want can actually lead to these exact things showing up in our lives.
So if you’re feeling negative emotions such as guilt, shame, blame and weakness – and then obsessively analysing these emotions and how to stop them – guess what’s going to keep showing up for you?
What works for me is to focus on what I do want. Consciously think about and name those positive emotions you want to feel. When those negative emotions threaten to swallow me, I start to think about feeling peaceful, satisfied and like I am enough. Because when I feel those feelings, the negative emotions disappear. Where to? Who knows – and honestly, they’ll probably come back some other day. But until then, I’m free of them.
Easier said than done, right? After all, we’d all be gliding through life like Buddhist monks if it was that simple!
Well, here’s what works for me.
I’ve been exploring memories of times in my life where I felt really at peace. And I always seem to go back to my childhood, especially holidays spent at my nana’s.
At first, I thought it was because there wasn’t much to do (unlike now with that never-ending list of to-dos and laundry piles..) But then I realised my days weren’t quiet. In fact, they hummed with activity – building shelters, picking fruit, making homemade berry desserts. And yet, despite the busyness, I felt at peace.
Why? This is so personal, but for me it comes down to values like safety and identity, which contribute to me feeling like I’m enough.
With this ‘knowing’, while still feeling the peace and abundance inside me, I reflect on which of these values are being met in my life now. This simple exercise brings my attention to what I need and want and have, and completely redirects my mind away from negative feelings to feeling enough.
If you’re ready to take action, choose a quiet time and location to connect with your childhood memories where you truly satisfied. It’s not important what actions created those feelings, focus on the feelings themselves. Reflect on which of your main values were being met that helped you feel this sense of ‘enoughness’. Take that feeling with you and search for those values in your current life. Are they being met now? If not, how can you get in touch with them?
Have you tried this process? I’d love to hear whether this worked for you. What are the times in your childhood you felt most connected and at peace? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!