Reflecting and discovering my unconscious beliefs
When I started practicing the steps in PARR (pause, acknowledge, respond, reflect), it helped me identify thoughts I was subscribing to. Moments of reflection allowed me to consider my subconscious beliefs of what it means to be a good mom. I’m going to walk you through a common experience among parents and share the insights I gained while reflecting.
When my kids were in elementary school my work demands grew. I was excited because I was jumping into something I loved, but as most moms can attest, I felt guilty. I was going to be working more hours than I, or anyone else, was used to. I was fortunate because I had — and still have — a great support system. But that wasn’t enough to remove the guilt — after all, kids want their mom.
As I was adjusting to a busier day, I was fatiguing quickly. Unwilling to recognize the fatigue, I kept trucking through my day. Why? Because I shouldn’t complain. Several moms balance working and parenting while seeming completely pulled together.
Stop making it a big deal. You’re lucky you have support.
What resulted was I became a crabby mom when I walked through the door.
My exhaustion hit me when I drove home — the completion of the workday met with the demands facing me when I got home. I was beyond excited to see my family, but when I walked through the door, the exhaustion would take over. It wasn’t the demands of my home life that were wearing, it was the expectations I placed on myself that drained me.
Tiredness from the workday, compounded with the idea that I need to step it up when I got home, became overwhelming. I felt guilty because I hadn’t been home and the kids needed me.
Here’s what started to happen:
I would come home excited to greet my family. My excitement soon faded, and I would start walking around the house nagging and nit-picking everyone and everything. Who left this here? Why didn’t you guys put your things away? Ugh, the kitchen is a mess! How much homework do you have?
Nice to see you too, right?
I had to take a minute to undue this pattern that didn’t serve anyone. Pausing came first.
When we pause, we want to observe our choices as if we’re outside of our bodies. No judgement. It was obvious, I was tired. Why wasn’t I giving myself 5 minutes to reset when I got home?
After I paused, I had to acknowledge how I was feeling and consider my state of mind. In this case, I realized I was tired, particularly during this transition in the day. The way I had been proceeding was not useful to myself or anyone else. My awareness alone now allowed my response to change because I realized something wasn’t working. I acknowledged that this pattern had to be interrupted.
I needed to take 5 minutes when I got home to reset and to help me switch gears, but I really was dying to greet my kids and hear about their day. I told them I needed two things when I got home: First the biggest hugs, and second, I need 5, maybe 10, minutes to reset. My kids were great with the new set up. In fact, they preferred it. My 5-10 minute reset period set the course for a better evening. I was more calm, present, available and patient.
I found myself considering two things: Why was it so hard for me to ask for 10 minutes? What thoughts or ideas had I subconsciously subscribed to that suggested I could not have this reset time? The second question is the deep dive I needed to take. I realized I have my own ideas of what a good mom looks like. She doesn’t complain, she’s never too tired, she’s always balanced and handling things calmly and her needs are always secondary to the needs of others. Was I consciously walking around saying this to myself — no. But the danger lies in what we subscribe to unconsciously. If we don’t take the time to reflect, we won’t identify these thoughts that lie under the surface.
A surface reflection could have been: I was tired, I took 5 minutes, problem solved. If I didn’t dig deeper to fully examine why I was not willing to give myself 5 minutes, I wouldn’t have discovered these self-limiting beliefs that I held onto.
Sometimes these thoughts still get in the way, but I’m much better at identifying them and realizing they’re not true. When we create awareness around self-limiting beliefs, they lose their hold on us. We can better discern what impact it’s having and how to address it. I want to define what it means to be a mom in a new way for myself, my kids and my husband. Shedding these thoughts of not enough, or do more, has allowed me to so.
I had to shift my thinking and consider: What do I want to show my kids? in particular my daughter? Instead of adopting a martyr mentality, why not teach her to tune into yourself and always ask for what you need — a valuable lesson that I’m still learning.
Consider your thoughts and beliefs about what it means to be a good mom. How are you impacted by these thoughts? Observe your day and notice any patterns where something is not working and consider putting the steps of PARR into practice.