All of the outer guidance that comes from people, books, and other resources is very helpful, but the decisions we make in our lives and our mothering must come from a place within if we want to feel confident and good about our decisions. As we remain open and receptive to learning from others and the world around us, ultimately we must live our lives in our own way and mother in such a way that is truly authentic.
Motherhood provides us literally countless opportunities every single day to "practice" trusting ourselves. Every single day, we are making decision after decision in regards to what is best for our children, ourselves, and our family. Sometimes the decisions are easy; that means we know exactly what to do in a particular situation, and we feel confident making the decision we make. Other times, a situation presents itself and we feel conflicted or confused on the inside. When your 12 month old starts to cry at 1 am, do you attend to him immediately or do you allow him a minute to self-sooth? Your teenage son want's to go cruising with his newly-licensed best friend, do you allow him to go even though your first reaction is "ummmm, hell no!"
Ahhh...motherhood. Many moments are so unpredictable, and often times, we must make split decisions. It's in these moments in particular that we must practice trusting ourselves.
It's important to "re-mind" ourselves that every single one of us has an infinite, unlimited, and highly intelligent source of power within us. Yes, a sixth sense of sorts. This sense is very real and very profound, and as mindful mamas, our practice is to turn up the volume on this voice. We do this by being open and receptive to what we feel. Our feelings speak volumes about what is and isn't right for us, our children, and our mothering. Honoring what we feel is trusting in ourselves. Honoring what we feel is powerful...and it takes practice!
Here are some of our favorite Mindful Mama tips and strategies for cultivating trust in ourselves:
1) ASK YOURSELF WHAT YOU NEED
Practice asking yourself "What do I need now," at least 3 times a day. Perhaps you ask yourself every hour! Tuning into our feelings and needs is a skill that requires us to direct our attention inward. This is sometimes very difficult for moms to do. We moms are so used to directing all our energy to the needs of others. So much so that asking yourself what you need may seem very uncomfortable and even awkward. But in order to trust ourselves, gain confidence as mothers and women, and know what's true for us, we simply must practice tuning into our feelings on a regular and routine basis.
When we ask ourselves what we need (and of course, take action), we are taking responsibility for our own self care; we are taking responsibility for being our True Selves.
So go ahead-- set a mindfulness bell on your phone to go off at routine intervals, pick a predictable time of day to check in with yourself (like while you are preparing dinner), or put a little sticky note reminder on your bathroom mirror that reads, "What do I need now?" Practice the fine art of listening to your inner voice, being open and receptive to whatever she is saying. You may just find you learn some pretty interesting things about yourself, deepen your connection to yourself, and practice trusting what you know to be true...for you!
2) MEDITATE, MAMA!
Meditation is such a powerful form of cultivating self-trust. During meditation, you sit in stillness, focusing on your breath, as you watch and witness the thoughts that stream through your head without reacting to them. Meditation isn't as much about clearing your head of thought entirely for an extended amount of time. That's impossible, actually. Meditation is the practice of continually and compassionately bringing your attention back to your breath the moment you realize you've been swept up in thought.
Every moment you see a thought stream through your head without emotionally reacting to it, you practice forgiveness, self-compassion, and self-discovery. Every moment you sit in meditation, not getting caught by your thinking, you cultivate this deep trust in your authentic self-- that at your core, you are calm, wise, and already whole. When you meditate, you essentially train your brain to trust your instincts while you practice letting go of your reaction to your thoughts.
Try it today! Carve out 5 minutes to start with, find a quiet place to escape (yes, closets work well!), and find a comfortable seated position. Sit up straight, close your eyes, and draw your attention to your breath. The moment you notice you are thinking, without judgment or criticism, return your attention to your breath... and repeat (50 times if necessary).
3) GO WITH YOUR GUT… AND DON'T THINK SO MUCH
The next time you need to make a decision, any decision, intentionally "go with your gut." Start by practicing this strategy with simple decisions: what to prepare for lunch for the kids... go with your gut and intentionally don't think so much; don't know if you should go to the gym after work or go straight home... go with your gut and intentionally don't think so much; you just got the kids in bed and you can either relax on the couch or catch up on some cleaning... go with your gut and intentionally don't think so much.
Once you've practiced going with your gut on the "little" decisions in your day, try to do the same with the "bigger" decisions: you've been asked to volunteer at the end-of-the-year carnival at your child's school... go with your gut and intentionally don't think so much; you are weighing the pro's and con's of getting a part-time job... go with your gut and intentionally don't think so much.
Okay, you get the drift. Often times, as highly intelligent women, we think too much! We've lost touch with how it feels to feel an answer to something vs. think of one. Practice going with your gut while you deliberately and intentionally remind yourself to not think so much. Believe it or not, this one takes lots of practice! Go with your gut, and you'll start to really trust yourself!