Over the past several months I was being hard on myself. Like many moms, I had times when I was caught up in feeling that I wasn't calm enough, energetic enough, creative enough, ambitious enough, thoughtful enough; feeling that I wasn't good enough at basic household tasks like cooking, cleaning and organizing; feeling that I wasn't able to get ahead of the incessant laundry pile, or the shopping list, or the projects and to-dos; feeling that I was falling behind my own expectations of motherhood.
Searching for inspiration, I visited the website of the spiritual resource that my grandmother relied on for many of her 94 years, and I stumbled upon this nugget of wisdom that shook me from my negative stupor:
"My energy is properly directed, and I live a happy life. Life is energy and the results I see in my life are a reflection of how I am directing my energy..."
I realized that my energy was being directed at those negative thoughts, those feelings of not being good enough, those expectations of myself that were not being met. No wonder I felt tired and incapable: it was the continuous mantra I was repeating to myself without even fully realizing it.
Once I recognized where my energy was going, and realized the amount of negative chatter I was subjecting myself to, it was easy to stop it. It was easy to start each day with affirming and uplifting thoughts: thoughts of strength and capability, joy and optimism, energy and abundance.
Philosopher William James once said: "Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not."
I'm taking action. I'm stopping that negative self-chatter and starting each day with a positive mothering mantra, reminding myself that I indeed am good enough, that I have all of the energy, strength, and capacity necessary to do the important work of mothering, and to do it happily and successfully.
I'm also taking action to assess where my energy is going and to make certain that it is directed at my true priorities. For example, I found that much of my energy was directed at preparing fancy meals with local, seasonal foods that my kids ended up not eating. So, I have streamlined our weekly meal plan to reflect the good and healthy foods that they will eat regularly, allowing me to focus my energy on my more important priorities, like being fully present with my children, reading lots of books together, talking, playing, and exploring. I am tolerating more messes, higher laundry piles, longer to-do lists, realizing that this intense time as a mom of little ones is temporary and fast-moving. I am aligning my energy with my clear priorities--those actions that fill me up and keep me going--and letting other things go.
And I'm feeling the results of this redirected energy and action. I'm feeling stronger, happier, more self-reliant, more ambitious, and better able to meet those daily mothering challenges.
I'm being less hard on myself.
I hope you are too.