You are already an excellent mother. I know that because you are here, and your investment says a lot about your priorities. You are putting time and energy into being the mum you want to be, and that’s the best thing any mum can ever do.
But, sometimes there are these nagging feelings in the back our minds.
Sometimes there’s a little voice from our childhood telling us we’re doing it all wrong. Today we are going to start actively switching off that little voice by replacing it with a new soundtrack.
We’ll do this with affirmations. I believe affirmations are like a road map to inner peace and joy. If you have never used affirmations before, let me warn you, you are about to open a pot of gold. If you have used affirmations before then you know how powerful they can be!
Affirmations are so powerful because they are internal.
You will not find the solutions to your problems outside of yourself. You need to feel more peace and joy even though the world is still chaotic.
Here’s an example: Do you know a mum who complains like nobody’s business when her baby is waking up just once or twice a night? Whilst another mum seems quite content feeding her baby every hour, all night long? The difference in their happiness is not due to their baby’s behaviour, it’s because of their mindset. Maybe the first mum is always telling herself “My baby never sleeps!” or “I’m so tired!” but the second mum is repeating, “My baby sleeps like a baby” and “I’m getting enough sleep.”
The negative affirmations are sending messages of fear and stress to the brain, releasing cortisol and adrenaline.
Negative affirmations can put the primal brain into a state of panic. On the other hand, the positive affirmations are telling the brain that all is well. Positive affirmations give us peace and joy because they convince our brains to release oxytocin.
But, here is the secret. You have to believe what you are saying. The feeling of calm needs to be real. If your thinking brain is interfering with messages like, “This is new age nonsense” or, “What a waste of time” your primal brain won’t be tricked. If you don’t believe in affirmations consider starting with a positive affirmation about affirmations, like, “Affirmations help me relax” or, “Affirmations are powerful.” The truth is, they certainly can’t do any harm, so have a go. Keep saying your affirmations until you do believe them! Then they will work.
When my high needs daughter was born I felt like I was never enough. A friend of mine who is a psychologist suggested that constantly repeating to myself “I am not enough” could be part of the reason why I did not have enough milk. I started saying “I am enough, I am everything my daughter needs,” particularly during breastfeeding. As my oxytocin began to flow, so did my milk.
To write your own affirmations, start by writing down your biggest fears, challenges and struggles.
- Write down the one thing that gets to you the most right now.
- Identifying the negative thought pattern associated with that situation. What goes through your mind when your baby wakes you up again? How do your imagined conversations go when your husband is home from work late again? What do you secretly mutter under your breath when your mother-in-law gives you more unwanted advice?
- Reverse that negative thought. “He doesn’t love me” becomes “He loves me.” “I am not enough” becomes “I am enough.” “I hate you” becomes “I love you.” “I can’t get out of bed again!” becomes “I’m always happy to get up for you.” “I can’t do everything!” becomes “I can do anything.”
- Once you’ve reversed your affirmations, make sure they are in positive language. “I am not a bad mum” still means you are focussing your brain on the word bad. Try “I am a good mum” instead.
- And, always phrase your affirmations in the present tense, as if they are already true. “I love you” is much more powerful than “I will learn to love you.”
- Now write down your affirmations. You may choose one or two but don’t overwhelm yourself with too many.
Finally repeat, repeat, repeat.
If you wake up at 3am in a cold sweat, repeat your affirmations. When you are breastfeeding, repeat your affirmations. When you encounter that challenging situation replace your old script with your new affirmations. Anytime that little voice starts nagging you, repeat your affirmations even louder.
Write your affirmations on sticky notes, create some art and put them around your house where you will regularly see them.
If you are trying to shift a particularly deep-seated mindset, it may help to actually write down your affirmations every day. Writing is slower than talking and gives the affirmation time to really sink in. You can write your affirmations out 5 or 10 times a day for a much more deliberate and focussed way of changing your mindset.
Some people are more responsive to affirmations, but generally you will need to repeat your affirmation every day for thirty days before your brain adopts the habit of thinking in this new way.