I am certain you are nodding your head in agreement after reading that quote. This is the inherent duality that is a part of mothering-- we become better versions of ourselves as mothers, but in the process, we have to come face-to-face with our limitations and weaknesses.
Giving & RECEIVING
From one mother to another, I know how much you love your children. Hands down, it’s probably the most profound love you’ve ever experienced. Thus, I can infer that you believe that your children deserve the very best version of you as their mother.
Everything you want to give to your children, you first have to receive from yourself. If you want to give unconditional love, you must receive unconditional love from yourself. If you want to give respect, you must receive respect from yourself. If you want to give acceptance, you must receive acceptance from yourself. You get the point.
Part IV of the Miracle of Self-Acceptance in Mothering reminds us that it’s important to balance our giving energy with equal parts receiving energy. Being receptive to receiving allows us to give openly, unconditionally, and endlessly to our kids.
Sounds easy, right? It is until our beliefs about ourselves get in the way. Old, out-dated, negative beliefs can drastically inhibit our ability to receive.
As moms, if we accept that we are able to give more when we receive, it’s imperative we come to terms with the limited beliefs about ourselves that hold us back receiving, and by extension from being able to give our children everything they deserve.
The Nature of (past) Beliefs
Have you ever considered where your beliefs about yourself come from? I know this is a complex question with multiple answers, but let’s just focus on one here. In the book, You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay states that when we were very little, we learned how to feel about ourselves by the reactions of the adults in our lives. Makes sense, right? I’d like to add one thing to this line of reasoning. The way your parents felt about themselves most likely influenced how they reacted to you.
Imagine if you will, a mom who is unhappy, angry, and depressed with her life. Chances are good that she is in this state because she harbors negative beliefs about herself and her ability to change her life. Now, imagine how she might react to her children on a daily basis. Since she is unhappy and angry, chances are good that she is overly critical and condescending toward her children and their behavior. Her children then learn that this is “normal,” and that this is how they deserve to be treated-- thus treat themselves the same way.
So the million dollar question is, how are your beliefs about yourself and your life impacting how you react to your children and by extension how your children feel about themselves?
(Before you attempt to contemplate this question, take a moment to breath. Don’t hyperventilate on me. I say this because after I thought about this question, I started to panic just a bit. I had this moment where I couldn’t believe I was a mom! When did I grow up? When did this all happen? And..OMG…I have three (three!) impressionable little beings continually in my presence watching me, listening to my every word all the time. I tend to forget what a tremendous influence I have on their precious spirits, their self-concepts, and how they perceive life.)
Okay, deep breath....
As we consider this fact: we treat ourselves the way our parents treated us (Hay), think about the present moment and consider how you treat your children. Simply put, your children will treat themselves the way you treat them. If you treat them with compassion, they will be compassionate toward themselves. If you forgive them when they mess up, they will forgive themselves. If you treat them with acceptance, they will accept themselves. Conversely, if you treat them judgmentally, they will judge themselves. If you criticize them, they will in turn criticize themselves.
How Have You Been Treating Yourself Lately?
So, how have you been treating yourself lately? Have you been judgmental? Have you been neglectful? Or have you been kind? Have you been attentive?
It matters. It really does.
If you acknowledge that you need do a little, or a lot, more work being attentive, kind, and compassionate toward yourself, you might just find the impetus for change to be the knowledge that your kids will directly benefit from the loving kindness you extend yourself.
The next step on this journey of self-awareness is illuminating those deep-seated, often unconscious, beliefs we have about ourselves that inhibit our ability to treat ourselves with compassion, kindness, and reverence.
Adapt a Warrior Mentality
Your child deserves to have a mother who is her best, most authentic version of herself at this particular moment in time. In order to achieve this, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to do a little digging. See, we have to get uncomfortably real and honest with ourselves to uncover old beliefs that don’t serve us anymore.
“It takes courage-- this is often called the path of the spiritual warrior-- to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives”(A Return to Love, Williamson). A warrior has strength and courage. You are a mother, thus you are a warrior. And every day, for the good of your kingdom (aka, your family), as a warrior, you must make a commitment and have the courage to become your most authentic self. Because, when you live your life authentically, you show up differently to yourself and your kids.
Give it away, Give it away, Give it away now
(Red Hot Chili Peppers… get it?)
In order to give it away, we have to have it first.
“We can’t really give to our children what we don’t have ourselves. In that sense, my greatest gift to my daughter is that I continue to work on myself” (Williamson). LOVE that! The reason this rings true is because we know that our children learn best by imitating us.
I think we have to remain vigilant about how we treat ourselves otherwise it's easy get stuck in the whole “do as I say, not as I do” conundrum. It simply won’t work to try to “tell” your kids it’s important to love themselves and to be kind to themselves if you don’t model this behavior to them on a daily basis. The little buggers are smart! They’ll see right through your façade.
Your Warrior Work
This week, pay attention to how you treat yourself. As you do this, also pay attention to the beliefs that dictate this treatment.
For example, if you seen a pattern of self-neglect or negative self-talk manifest, is this behavior due to misinformed beliefs you have about not being worthy or a belief that it’s selfish to take time for yourself?
Take some mental notes.