I’m probably not going to be very popular for asking this, but when did it become cool to be stressed and negative? Remember when we were kids and everyone was saying, “Just say No to drugs” and “Smoking won’t make you cool”? As moms, we’re no longer feeling peer pressure to drink and do drugs. Oh no! Moms today are pressured to give in to stress and expect others to ensure that life is absolutely, perfectly fair.
When Did It Start?
I first started to notice this when I saw a video on Facebook that was nothing but a woman complaining about her husband. I get it. Being a mom is hard and usually under appreciated, and sometimes we feel like our husbands get off easy, but the spirit of the video was so negative and self-serving that it was a real awakening to me.
What’s Wrong with It?
What’s wrong with expressing your feelings? If you don’t voice your frustration or dissatisfaction, then things will probably never change. The problem lies in this culture of negativity and the me-first attitude that is forming. When I lose my temper and yell or punish my kids from a place of frustration, I see the light go out in their eyes. I’m such a protective Mama Bear when it comes to others hurting my kids; it breaks my heart to think that I could ever be the cause of their sadness or unhappiness!
When we’re constantly surrounded by these emotions, we begin to feel them more and more within ourselves. Then, we find ourselves looking for injustices. We’re just waiting for someone (our husbands, our kids) to slip up, so we’re ready to point the finger of blame. “This is why I’m stressed.” “That’s why I’m grumpy all the time.” No wonder our lives feel unfulfilling, unexciting, or unhappy. We have traded in looking for the beauty around us and the blessings in our lives for selfish thoughts of “What about ME?”
Where Will It Lead?
A few months ago, I found myself feeling that way, I was having a hard time feeling excited about life. I had a short temper with the kids and Nate. I felt frustrated and stressed with the blog, home-school, kids, house-work, cooking, island life, church service… everything. Here I was, living the great life that I had built for myself, but I couldn’t see it through the shadow of self pity. My blessings seemed diminished and my problems seemed unmanageable.
If we, as a society, carry on this way, we will end up cold, ungenerous, and unforgiving. Instead of building each other up, we will think only of tearing each other down, in the hope that when everyone else has been beaten lower than ourselves, we will finally be able to feel the warmth of the sun’s healing rays again.
And we’re passing it onto our kids. They listen to and soak up every negative and selfish word we utter. Even if we aren’t saying these things out loud, they pick up on our emotions and they mirror our reactions. Which will lead them down the same miserable, narcissistic path we’re heading down.
What Can We Do?
So, how do we combat the deluge of negativity and self-service of today’s culture?
Find someone who builds us up
When I was feeling so low a few months ago, I expressed my feelings to Nate one day and he told me, very gently, “I understand that you’re feeling stressed about these things. I don’t want to sound insensitive but you don’t have to let them stress you out. You’re not someone who gets easily overwhelmed. You’re strong, smart, and fully capable.” And I could tell that he meant it.
Recently, a friend who has been actively working on self-improvement, asked me if I would be her accountability partner. She asked if we could set aside some time once a week to discuss insightful things we’ve been learning or thinking about. I think especially as stay-at-home moms, we need to ensure we prioritize uplifting, adult conversation.
Learn to talk nicely to ourselves
I once heard that we should talk to ourselves the way we would talk to our best friends. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you’re strong, smart, and beautiful. We know ourselves better than anyone else, we know our strengths as well as our weaknesses. We need to dwell on the positive and search for ways to correct the negative.
I go out of my way to avoid getting mixed up in the drama and gossip. Does this leave my out of the loop sometimes? Yes, but my life comes with enough drama of it’s own. I don’t need to be involved in anyone else’s.
Clear Our Plates
I don’t mean our dinner plates, I mean our schedules. If our hectic schedules are causing stress, there’s almost always something that can go. Our kids don’t need to be in every available activity to develop the skill and attributes they’ll need as adults. We don’t have to have to be the president of every school/community organization. Simplifying our lives is always a sure way to lower our stress levels.
I talk about this a lot, but I swear there is something healing in the breeze and the sun’s rays. Whatever your outdoor activity of choice is, do it as often as possible. Some of my favorites are running, hiking, relaxing on the beach, and snorkeling/scuba-diving. If you don’t have a favorite, try something new. I promise, there it’s magical under the sea!
Don’t sit still for too long
That will mean different things for different people. It might be heading outside to take a walk, learning a new skill, starting a business, changing careers, taking on a project, moving to a new place, even just starting a new book that wouldn’t be a typical choice for you.
Find the beauty in where we are
I know I just said to make a change, and I stand by that, but I also believe in always looking for the beauty in where you are. Find the good and the magical. That can be as small as seeing the divine in your child’s smile or standing in awe at the foot of a waterfall. As you look for the beauty around you, you will soon find yourself in the habit of seeing the supernal in the familiar.
Stop comparing and start serving
I’m sure we’ve all heard it before, when we lose ourselves in the service of another, we find ourselves. Before you fall into the trap of dissatisfaction with life, look around and see where and who you could be building up. If you’re already there? You can start small- reach out to a friend and, instead of discussing who did what to whom, share something uplifting or maybe just be a listening ear.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”- Mahatma Gandhi
Learn to forgive
I think this might be the most important one. If we can forgive ourselves and others, truly forgive and let go, we can feel weight being lifted from our shoulders. We can feel lighter and a greater capacity to deal with the stresses of life. As wives and moms, sisters and friends, we can too easily get caught up in fault-finding and grudge-holding. Don’t wait for an apology or for another person to change. Right now is the time for you to let go and release yourself from the bondage of hatred and blame.
Now, am I stress-free? Nope! But when I catch myself giving into negativity, stress, or drama, I pause and remind myself, “This isn’t me. I’m a strong, smart, and fully capable woman who can rise above and handle anything that life throws my way!”
I don’t know if we can turn the tide of the “What about ME?” attitude that is flooding our lives, but we can take a stand and say, “Not I!” Each day, we can find more clarity, more patience, more gratitude, and more passion for life. Decide today if you are a strong, smart, and capable woman who can take on the world. Let me just say, YOU ARE!
In the comments below, I want you to tell me what are you are doing right and what you are going to change. For me? I’m not afraid of change and I’m good at making changes happen when things aren’t going my way. I do get down on myself more than I should. I’m going to work harder on talking nicely to myself; I’m going to be my #1 cheerleader.