Motherhood on one hand brings so much joy but on the other so much fear, questioning and self doubt. Even for the most confident person before becoming a mum, after it can be a very different story.
I think a lot of women assume that as long as their child is healthy and happy then they have done a good job as a parent, and I would not disagree with that. However, this can be to the detriment of the self esteem and emotional wellbeing of the mother.
Becoming a mother of triplet boys at the age of 46 challenged my self esteem more than I could ever have imagined.
I found myself in a space where previously I had only heard of from mothers who came to see me with confidence issues.
I am known for helping people all over the world deal with self esteem, anxieties and emotional drinking issues and for the first time was at the coalface of my own reality that I had the same story as many of my clients!
It was the typical combination of utter exhaustion, crazy amounts of washing, feeding – you name it, whilst trying to go back to work, so that I could afford a night nanny to enable me to get some sleep!
I started to notice that I was starting to give myself a hard time.
I was being critical and judgemental about not being on top of everything, which led to more emotional drain.
Fortunately, being a hypnotherapist who specialises in self esteem, I recognised the signs. I knew I needed to give myself some space to get back on the horse of keeping my emotional wellbeing strong.
So I started work on myself in little windows of time with my hypnosis recordings, along with a psychology I trained in over 20 years ago. This amazing training changed my life and thousands of my clients too.
So, I would like to share with you this psychology theory, so that you too can understand that unhelpful thinking is simply a state of mind you can move out of, actually much more easily than you probably can imagine.
This theory believes we are all made up of many parts, and sub personalities within that make up a whole person. There is, unbeknown to many people, a particular personality trait that challenges our self esteem. I call it The Inner Critic part.
It is the part that says ‘Everybody else is a better mother than you’ or ‘You don’t cope as well as other mothers do’. Another typical comment is ‘You are so boring now you are a mum, you don’t have anything interesting to say and people are not interested in spending time with you.’ A classic Inner Critic comment for many mums is ‘You haven’t lost your baby weight, everybody thinks you are fat and have no self respect in your appearance.’ The list goes on and on and on.
For many mothers The Inner Critic can be so powerful that it leads to more self loathing and a way to retreat out of this negativity is to overeat or drink lots of wine to escape its negativity.
This can lead to spiralling out of control feelings of hopelessness and failure.
I call this emotional state ‘The Radio Crazy Syndrome.’ You literally think you are going mad!
The good news is you are not going mad. It has just become a way of thinking because you have been exposed to high levels of vulnerability. And when this happens, The Inner Critic can take over.
The neuroscientists of this world have studied the brain when we are in a negative state, which is what I call The Inner Critic state. What they discovered are very clear neural pathways that light up in the exact same area every time we feel vulnerable. This part of the brain is called The Amygdala.
So when The Inner Critic fires up its unhelpful conversation with you, the Amygdala lights up, and will immediately produce stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline to spread through your entire body. This mind/body reaction is what you feel in a nanosecond when you feel emotionally unsafe.
Over a period of time, if you stay in this state long enough and deeply enough, you can start to think this is how life is meant to be.
It can lead to anxiety, depression and a sense of being less than the rest of the world.
The good news is that the Neuroscientists also discovered that when we think good thoughts and experience positive feelings such as safety, love and laughter another part of the brain lights up which is called The Pre-Frontal Cortex. It is interestingly in the middle of the forehead that some spiritual people would refer to as the ‘Third Eye’.
The Pre-Frontal Cortex produces good chemicals such as endorphins that enhance our sense of emotional and physical wellbeing.
Through my special work I help people train their brain literally to tune out of the Inner Critic and connect with the Intuitive Healthy Confident part. This part is directly related to The Pre-Frontal Cortex.
It doesn’t matter where you have been with low self esteem; you have an amazing mind that can learn anything. All you need to do is give yourself permission to start to learn to think differently about you.
One of the great ways of doing this is to challenge the Inner Critic by breaking its unhealthy conversation with you.
Whenever you think a negative thought, firstly shift your thinking by singing ‘baa baa black sheep’. This will break the unhelpful state and take your mind to a more neutral space. Then bring into your thoughts a time when you felt love, laughter and light moments. Repeat these two steps every time you feel a little low, angry, sad, lonely or overwhelmed.
The more you do this, the more your mind is learning to tune out of unhelpful thoughts and into a healthier state, emotionally and physically. The good news is it then becomes an emotional habit.
Self esteem is something we need to learn.
We are not born with it and often through the most joyous times, such as becoming a mother, we forget about ourselves and lose our confidence.
If you would like to learn more about how to gain more self worth, eat less, drink less or be calmer, click here.
Have you struggled with self-esteem? How have you tried to cope? Please share you comments below.