22 September 2014

Changing the Record, Changing Me

I've had this post in the back of my mind for a few weeks now, as I've started to notice some changes taking place in me.

For the longest time I've been telling myself certain stories, replaying old records over and over again. You might recognise some of them (they might be stories you tell yourself too).

"This is too hard for me..."
"I could never do that..."
"I don't enjoy that..."
"I'm no good at that..."
"My kids would never go for that..."

Those old "I can't" records have been playing in my head for so long, I thought they were "me".

I truly believed that "I'm no good at confrontation; if I have to speak up I freeze and lose what I wanted to say." This meant that I let my husband do the speaking for me and asked him to fight way too many of my battles. I let my voice be swallowed up by fear of what others would think, and a desire to not rock the boat or be seen as pushy.

I accepted as fact the line that went "I don't enjoy baking and only do I when I have to" along with "making dinner for my family every night is such a chore." This saw me trotting out the same round of tired old dinners every week.

I struggled with so many aspects of having school-age kids, mainly because I believed the record that said, "I'm hopeless at helping the kids do their homework; I don't know where to begin." The whole homework saga was an endless battle on three fronts and as the children got older I experienced more and more anxiety (and guilt).

[Another sugar free baking experiment - banana, date and walnut loaf: I am ENJOYING BAKING!] 

I also fell for the story that went, "Healthy eating is so hard. My kids will never go for it. They're so picky and it would be a nightmare with battles at every mealtime. Plus It would mean I'd have to bake." As a result I took the easy option when it came to the kids' diet, being too scared of their reactions to try and make them eat healthier.

Above everything else, I believed the record that said, "I am crap at follow-through. I have great ideas but I don't stick at things."

And as these records played their negative stories over and over in my head, they became so deeply embedded that they became part of me. I believed deep down that I couldn't change these things about myself.

I believed nothing would change. I believed some things were too hard for me. Consequently NOTHING CHANGED and some things WERE too hard for me.

I lived my life restricted by those negative records playing in my brain, telling me stories I thought were true.

But lately I've noticed that some of the records have started to change.

Some have changed rapidly and dramatically, like the way my world was rocked by Nigel Latta's sugar expose which has transformed the way we are eating.
Others have changed so slowly and incrementally that it's only by looking back that I see how far I've come.

Instead of "I'm crap at confrontation" and letting my husband speak for me, I've begun to say to myself, "What's the worst that can happen? They can only say no..."
I've rocked up to school, asked for meetings, dealt with issues, and had conversations that have made a difference for my kids.
Another new story is, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil..." If I don't speak up for my kids, who will? Nobody, that's who.

I am now a squeaky wheel, a mum who advocates for her children. I've met with deputy principals, guidance counsellors and teachers - and boy did it feel good! I didn't even freeze.
I've changed the record to "I can do this."

[Dash's English project: a book report Conflict Chart that we worked on together: I am ENJOYING helping with homework]

Since I've begun working again, the old record has been silenced that used to say, "What could I do as a job? I can't go back to my old career and I'm not trained for anything..."
Instead I play the joyful tune, "This job is perfect for me! All the skills I've learned as a mother are being used in this job!"
My new job as a teacher aide has also given me the skills and confidence to help my kids with their homework.
I'm not scared of homework any more. I'm a homework-capable mum.

There are so many little ways the records are changing.
Ditching the "I don't enjoy baking" script and changing it to "It's a fun challenge to find recipes that are yummy AND healthy..."
Switching out "making meals every night is a chore" and changing it to "let's try something new".
Rejecting "I'm crap at follow through" and changing it to "I HAVE to do this, I CAN do this, it's important..."

As all these little changes begin to add up, that heinous old record "I'm a useless mother; I'm not doing a very good job" is getting fainter and fainter. I hardly ever hear it any more. It's being drowned out by "I'm making progress, I love my kids, I'm doing my best for them".

It's actually shocking how much has changed in me in the last while.
I speak up, I do things that used to scare me and I've stopped telling myself "I can't".
Changing the record is changing my life by changing me.
Bit by bit.

(Now I just need to find a way to stop the record that says, "Exercise is so boring... and so sweaty! I hate the way it makes me feel." Then we'll really be getting somewhere.)


What about you? Are any of these "records" familiar to you? What are the stories you tell yourself? (tell me I'm not alone!)

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