Last week I was really struggling with being… well with just BEING. It seemed like everything was just making me so easily annoyed. In my heart, I desired to be happy and kind, but the opposite kept surfacing when anything negative surfaced in my path. It was frustrating! I wasn’t trying to be pessimistic, frustrated or in a bad mood, I just WAS. ugh. Why?? I could see the effects on my daughter. She said curiously, “Mommy, when are you going to be happy? Are you feeling frustrated?” Or I noticed her playing more on her own because I was no fun. And it definitely stung to see her light up around other (happier) people because of how loved they made her feel with their attention, smiles and gentleness. I wanted to be making her feel that way! Then I wondered how she was feeling around me. Was she feeling loved? How could she if most of the time I was communicating frustration and annoyance?
I met up with a good admired friend in Ogden the next day and just being around her impacted me greatly.
She was SO HAPPY. She said EVERYTHING with a SMILE on her face! And she laughed about everything even when frustrating things happened like when her cute little boy kept running away every 2 minutes. Within the first 5 minutes of talking to her, I was shocked by the contrast of our demeanor. It became very clear to me how NOT HAPPY I had been acting lately! I just soaked her energy in and went home that day trying to figure out how to change. I prayed for strength and implemented these steps over the next few days and I can’t even tell you the WONDERS it did for me and my parenting and my “wifing” too!
Did you know that visualizing an action has been proven in many circumstances to be as effective as actually doing the action? Professional athletes, entrepreneurs, disabled people, you name it have used visualization to train their subconscious and it has worked! Take 5 minutes each morning before your kids get up, find a quiet space to sit, and even play some relaxing music. I usually pop in my headphones and listen to Kundalini: Yoga, Meditation, Relaxation on Spotify. The music helps quiet my thoughts and help me focus. It puts my in this dream like state and I am more able to imagine in detail how I want to be as a mother.
Now, close your eyes and picture yourself in your mind being a happy mother. Imagine yourself smiling when your little girl wanders into the kitchen in the morning (or into your room for the 10th time at night) or laughing your heads off together during a tickle fight. Take scenarios that you struggle with and mentally practice how you would ideally like to respond! For instance, you are sitting at dinner and your child spills his drink all over his dinner plate and you calmly clean it up with a smile and say, “Uh oh. That’s ok sometimes that happens.” For me, I visualize myself counteracting rude comments, tantrums and bad moods by smiling or laughing it off. I often tend to mirror other people’s moods, so initiating happiness in the face of negative energy is something I really have to strive for.
I can’t fully describe how unbelievably helpful this practice has been in my life. My subconscious is being trained to be positive, happy, light and silly just by creating these distinct actions and images in my head. I have been doing this for over a week now, and I feel like a different person.
Also keep in mind that you can do this whenever! It the shower, on the toilet! In the car (just don’t close your eyes), while you are nursing, etc.
The other night I was feeling annoyed while I made dinner and as I was chopping vegetables, I realized that my mind was just stagnant in my negative state. I wasn’t releasing the negative energy and was on the verge of brooding. So I just did a cheesy, fale smile and it relaxed my face. Did you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile?? I could immediately feel my mood change, and it SAVED me. But how could that be? Am I just pretending I feel better? Nope.
Smiling releases neuropeptides that help us fight off stress! It also releases dopamine, seratonin, and endorphins! Which is basically like popping an anti-depressant in your mouth but it doesn’t cost money and there are no side effects!
Also, when we see others smile, it activates our orbitofrontal cortex which processes sensory rewards. Which means that when we see others smiling, we actually feel rewarded! So the more we smile at our children, the more happy, validated and safe they will feel around us.
So when you feel a bad mood coming on or you realize you are in the thick of it, brush on a huge smile and hold it there for 16 seconds. This could also be added to your morning routine of visualization to get your day started out with a smile on your face.
Smiling is AMAZING.
It’s so easy to focus on the negative feelings we feel because they can be so heavy and overwhelming!! Everything living thing in our life contains energy: every person, every plant and animal. You’ve experienced it, I know it! You’ve seen the difference in how you feel when the cashier at the grocery store is frowning, doesn’t make eye contact and is abrupt. You might also have felt it when you instantly connected with someone. You just clicked and felt safe with them. That was energy! So how do we put out a certain energy? It all starts in our minds. Our brains control everything else in our body, so it makes sense that our energy is derived from our thoughts.
Negativity sucks energy out of you, but gratitude releases that negativity and buoys you up with lightness and happiness! Gratitude is so POWERFUL. It is a way to create happy thoughts! The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits. And not only that, but the benefits linger. Meaning that by writing 3 things you are grateful for today will actually help you be happier 3 months from now!
Quality Time and Limits
I am making dinner and my toddler is crying because she is starving (but I can only prep so fast!) My preschooler is singing at the top of her lungs to try and overpower the baby’s whines. I am leaning over the counter looking at this recipe 5 times because I can’t focus long enough to read how many tablespoons of cumin to put in this sauce!!
Sometimes my daughter wants to show me EVERYTHING. EVERY. THREE. SECONDS. Man, I love her and I love that she is excited but my brain literally fried trying to multi-task what I am trying to get done and looking at her tricks, creations and games all day.
The other night during dinner, I was about to pop! I couldn’t handle any more why questions or random show and tells like “Look at this, Mom! …I am bending my knees like this.” (Sigh…I just want to make dinner in peace!) I almost let loose, but I clenched my fist and calmly explained that “I am really trying to focus on dinner right now and it is hard to do this AND watch your cool things. I would love to play your game and see your tricks when I can focus just on you! That will be more fun for me, okay?”
Sometimes we have this self-limiting belief that we have to be constantly available to our children in order to be good moms. But my friend once mentioned that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to our kids and I strongly second that opinion. We could spend all day with our kids, but if we are spewing zoned out “uh huh… cool… good job sweetie”s do you think our kids are going to go to bed feeling noticed, validated or like they really spent time with you? Presence doesn’t equal presence. Being around our kids doesn’t really do much good if we are never really there. We need to not only give to our kids, but show them that we know how to give to ourselves. You know what you need. Maybe it’s 3o minutes a day for your favorite show or book. Maybe it’s a workout. Maybe it’s a girl’s night out. Whatever it is, be confident in taking time for you and don’t feel guilty because you aren’t giving every moment to your kids. Kids need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that you are a person too. Teach them to care for themselves by caring for you! Then it will be so much easier to turn around and give them your whole heart and soul for a while. Because your cup is filled! And I promise it will make you more present and while it might mean less time with them, they will feel like they are getting more.
My goal is to be confident in setting limits and compartmentalizing my day. It’s better for me to set aside a good hour for work and tell my kids that I am not available (instead of ending up annoyed and frustrating from trying to do it all) and then afterward give them uninterrupted play time where I am totally focused on them, really soak them in and actually care that they are bending their knees a certain way.
Be the kind of person you want to be around and model them
We all have people who inspire us. People we would love to be a little more like. We also have people we love because of how they make us feel. Think of that one person and how you feel when you are with them. What do they do to create that magical feeling of love and safety for you? What do they do that you admire so much? Picture them in your moments of weakness and let their strengths buoy you up. Faking it till you make it really works. And sometimes we just need a reminder that who we desire to be is possible. So when you can’t genuinely act a certain way, pretend you are that person and do what they would do. And soon enough you’ll be paying the magic forward to your kids and being the kind of person you love to be around.
Hope this helps you all become happier mamas! I know it has helped me 🙂