The children are yelling, your mother-in-law is telling you how to parent, and your spouse is asking why the kids are upset again. In the midst of the people "out there" talking to you, are you aware of what you may be saying to yourself?
Busy parents are often so focused on what’s going on around them that they pay little attention to what’s going on inside their own heads. The outside noise overrides the inside noise, but unfortunately, it doesn’t drown it out completely. That little voice that says, "I’m a terrible parent. Why do other people seem to have the answers? What’s wrong with my child? Why can’t I do anything to make my kids behave?" is busy chattering to you all of the time.
The problem with negative self-talk is that you often don’t even realize it is there. You may think it is natural and normal to say terrible things to yourself. You may think it is useful to be worrying, anticipating, watching everything, and telling yourself stories about how awful things will be.
In reality, the negative things you tell yourself are stealing from you. They steal your happiness, your chances to make better decisions, and your emotional (and often physical) energy. You may feel defeated, tired, or just worn out and not know why. You may think you’re fine, but really, the negativity is wearing you down.
How do you flip the negative self-talk into something more positive?
It’s not just about putting on rose-colored glasses. It involves the following steps:
- Recognizing triggers that set off negative talk.
- Making a decision to ask negative voices to leave.
- Inviting in more supportive, empowered, and balanced voices.
Triggers can sometimes be noticed by physical reactions, such as feeling stressed or tired. They may also manifest emotionally. For example, you may feel down or discouraged and not know why. Speak to your doctor if you suspect a serious condition like depression, however. When reactions to triggers arise, review your internal monologue, taking note of the negative tone it may have been using.
Once you recognize the negative voices brought on by triggers, you can choose to tell them to leave. Don’t fight with the negative voices, which are taunting, "You can’t," just politely ask them to disappear. Say something like, "You are not welcome here. I’m focused on other things." And then turn your attention to more balanced and positive self-talk.
Encourage supportive voices that state, "I’m doing the best job I can do for today. Tomorrow, I may find ways to improve." Remember that life is a process, not an end game. By recognizing the things that bring you down and replacing them with positive self-talk, you can become empowered.
Parenting is a tough enough job as it is. Make sure your self-talk works with you, not against you.
Turn Negatives into Positives
WHEN YOU HEAR… INSTEAD SAY…
"I’m an awful parent." "Parenting is a hard job. I work at making the best choices for our family each day."
"Why do my kids act this way?" "Kids struggle to learn sometimes. Everyone has an individual pace. My focus is on teaching them well."
"Family gatherings are too hectic." "I choose how to host events and enjoy them."