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March 19, 2024

A Phrase to Help us Escape a Negative Thought Spiral.

 

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You’re not gonna be perfect, Mama. Give yourself some grace.

I’m telling myself as I’m telling you.

In today’s world, we have a lot of helpful information on how to break generational trauma, which is awesome!

Still, the reality is that in some way, shape, or form, we’re going to screw up our kids. And I’m learning to sit with that reality because I have felt from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I was going to do it better. I would not make the same mistakes as my parents. Turns out, I was wrong. And that’s okay.

We all make mistakes. Parenting is super hard. Most days, I feel like I’m doing a decent job, but on the days I’m not, I make it worse by berating myself. We all know we’re not super motivated to change with the voice in our head telling us we’re awful and our mistakes can never be undone because we’ve already screwed up too much and inevitably will screw up again.

What we need is to give ourselves compassion. And it’s so tough. Especially when we have people’s voices from the past roaming around in our heads, unchecked. But it’s time to counter those thoughts.

A book I just read, William B. Irvine’s The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient, suggests saying firmly “that’s your opinion” rather than fighting back and move forward. We don’t have to entertain these thoughts a second longer and end up in a negative thought spiral (oh, believe me, I have not perfected this and end up in these spirals more than I care to admit).

Of the hundreds of self-help books I’ve read (no exaggeration here), it all comes down to one thing, so I can save you a lot of reading time here. Love yourself. Have compassion for yourself. If we don’t learn to unconditionally love ourselves, we can’t be that love for anyone else.

And this is why my response to my triggers is so explosive. I have not perfected this. I become lost in my own fear of imperfection and fear of facing failure, today and in the future. When I have compassion in those moments of weakness, they happen less and less.

I hope today you can notice when those voices come up, say “that’s your opinion,” and be kind to yourself. We, in turn, can become compassionate toward others and amplify our love.

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