I will be the first to admit that I am a control freak. It comes with the territory of being a perfectionist. When things are out of my control, I get nervous, anxious, and a little bit scared. This made it really hard for me to accept that we can’t control what other people say, do or think. If you’re anything like me, you might find yourself having mini-panic attacks often or blaming yourself whenever anything goes wrong. It’s not fun, but I’m here to tell you that there’s hope.
You see, I’ve finally figured out that while we can’t control other people, we can control how we react. And with that, there’s a LOT of power. We get to decide how we feel and what we believe and what to do next. The first step is realizing that other people’s opinions and actions do not define us or our value. Just because someone thinks something about us doesn’t make it true and it’s not the end of the world if someone doesn’t like us. This is definitely easier said than done, but once you get there, everything feels a little bit lighter and brighter. Things that would normally send us over the deep end stop seeming so bad.
It’s all about perspective.
I’ll give you an example. A few weeks ago, I shared what I thought was a funny story about a mini tantrum that my daughter threw. She’s almost two, so I actually expect tantrums whenever I use the word no and I mentally prepare myself for those ‘terrible two’ moments that everyone warns me about. It rarely happens- in fact, I can probably count on my hands the number of tantrums she’s thrown. And even with those, they’ve all only lasted a minute or two and usually end with her wanting a hug. This one was no different.
I was proud of the fact that she knows that I’m her safe place and feels comfortable feeling all of her feelings. (I was even more proud of the fact that I didn’t let her see me laugh at her adorable angry face when she stomped down the hall because I wouldn’t give her cookies before lunch.) Thinking the anecdote was funny, I shared it with a couple of people. I was really surprised at one of the responses that I got:
“She’s gonna be a brat because you spoil her.”
This seriously threw me. Initially, I was hurt and honestly, a little angry. I took the comment to mean that this person thought I was a bad mom. That my kid was a bad kid. My first instinct was to get defensive. Then to get upset. Finally, to cry out of frustration.
Being a good mom is the most important thing to me. It is my biggest passion, my biggest pride and what I care about more than anything. I love my daughter and I am so proud of what a sweet, kind little girl she is. This one comment challenged both of those things and therefore everything that I stood for. Worst of all? I started to question myself. Was I a bad mom? Was I ruining my kid?
It took me a while to calm down and realize how insane that was.
Did this person mean to send me into a whirlwind of emotion and hurt feelings? Maybe, but probably not. If anything, she’d probably just say that I was being dramatic, per usual. But regardless of her intentions, I allowed myself to react that way. I allowed myself to be filled with doubt. Unfortunately, part of being a perfectionist and overthinker is needing everyone to see that you are killing it at everything you do. When that’s challenged, it can take a lot out of you and it’s really hard to get back on track. While most people could probably laugh the comment off, someone with a brain wired like mine can have trouble.
Now, the old me probably would have continued to spiral. I probably would have carried around that hurt for weeks, analyzing everything that I was doing with my daughter to make sure that I wasn’t spoiling her or creating a little monster. I might have responded to the comment with more negativity or held a grudge.
Instead, I remembered my empowerment training.
After a few minutes of internal freaking out, I started the process of ‘looking for proof’ which is a really great strategy I learned for eliminating self-limiting beliefs. Where was the proof that I was a bad mom? Was there any proof that I was ruining my kid?
I sat down with my journal and let myself think about it. I came to the conclusion very quickly that there wasn’t any proof because I am a really good mom. That’s not me being conceited; it just is. My kid is loved and encouraged and being raised to be kind and strong. She has routines and boundaries to adhere to, but she is also encouraged to explore, experiment and express herself. Will she have tantrums? Of course, she’s a toddler with limited speech capabilities. She’s still learning to express her feelings and frustrations. (And I will never teach her that it’s wrong to have feelings- we’re going to learn to navigate them together because I want her to feel strong and confident. I don’t want her to feel like she has to hide.)
This comment came from someone who doesn’t see my daily interactions with Emily. She doesn’t see the way that I parent and hasn’t really interacted with Em enough to know her personality yet. There is no way she’d actually be able to know if I were a good or bad mom. My initial reactions of hurt and frustration were as if she were the authority on how a mother should interact with her daughter, which is even crazier when you consider the fact that she doesn’t have a daughter of her own. And yet, I took what was probably a comment she made without even thinking about it to mean that I was a failure.
Once I sat down and thought about it, I realized that I didn’t need to be upset.
Because regardless of whether this person thought I was a good mom or not, I know that I am. I don’t have to prove that to anyone. Whether or not other people consider me a good mom or not, I know that I am and that is all that matters. Once I got to this conclusion, I was able to let go of the pain and frustration. I was able to smile and be proud of the great job that I know I am doing.
I was able to appreciate what a wonderful little girl I have and how lucky I am to be her mom. And then when she woke up from her nap, I was able to give her a really big hug and tell her that.
So basically, what I’m trying to say is that there are always going to be things that are out of our control. People are always going to say things that we don’t like and they’re going to do things that hurt us. We get to decide how we react and we get to control how we let it affect us. It’s up to us to decide what we carry in our minds and in our hearts.
I refuse to carry untrue assumptions that do not serve me.
I choose to come from a place of love and celebrate my choices and accomplishments. Now that I’m learning to believe in myself, I don’t need the external validation. There’s power in that. It makes me stronger and happier!
This process isn’t limited to when someone makes a hurtful comment.
You can literally apply it to anything that is out of your control. Do it anytime someone says or does something that hurts you. You can even do it when you post on social media but don’t get any likes or comments. Anytime something doesn’t go your way and you start doubting yourself and feeling bad, you can do it. Pull out your journal and write down the negative thought that came out of what you couldn’t control, and then start looking for proof. Once you realize there isn’t any, you can let go of the negative thought and get on with life the way you were meant to. If you do find proof, it lets you know what you can work on or change in order to get the result that you want. This puts you in control. It’s how you get your power back.
And it’s pretty fucking amazing how strong you feel when you realize what a rock star you actually are.
Side note, if you need a new journal to use for taking back your control and kicking those limiting beliefs to the curb, check out the ones I’ve got in my shop here. I can even burn something into the cover like “Proof that I’m a rock star”. Okay, maybe that’s a little cheesy. But you get the idea. 🙂
This is the one I burned for myself for this process:
Even if you’re sitting there thinking, that will never work for me, I urge you to give it a try. I remember there was a time when I thought that my brain was the way that it was and nothing could change it. But I went into this practice with an open mind and was amazed at how much it helped me!
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been stuck in your ways. It’s never too late to start believing in yourself.
You can be so powerful if you let yourself.
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