If you’re anything like me, the words “parenting” and “worrying” are pretty much synonymous. Why doesn’t my 7-year-old sleep through the night? Why can’t I get my kids to eat anything besides cereal? Am I destroying their futures with my OCD-level of rearranging the pillows on the sofa when they move them? I worry that I worry too much.
Welcome to the circus that is my anxious brain.
But let’s be honest—we’re all (parents, that is) pretty much doing the best we can. I’ve seen kids raised in homes marked by animosity, hatred, and instability overcome that adversity to end up being incredible, successful adults. I’ve also seen “picture perfect” families be torn apart by an adult kid who just can’t get it right.
(The good news is coming. I promise.)
Are there any Grey’s Anatomy fans reading? I know, I know. They basically killed off anyone who matters, but they had a good run for a while. One episode has always stood out for me.
In episode 14 of season 11, before a huge surgery, Dr. Stephanie Edwards walks into the scrub room to find surgeon Amelia Shepherd standing like a superhero. Her chin up was up, her chest was out, her hands were on her hips. She looked fierce.
Edwards asks Shepherd what she was doing. Shepherd responds, “I’m being a superhero. There’s a scientific study that shows that if you stand like this in superhero pose for just five minutes before a job interview or a big presentation or a really hard task, you will not only feel more confident, you will perform immeasurably better.”
Obviously, I had to know the validity of Shepherd’s claim, so I turned to my number-one source for real news: Google. As it turns out, she’s right. In 2012, Harvard did a study that proved that if you stand in a superhero pose for five minutes before a difficult task or a hard conversation, you’ll be more confident, calm, and perform better.
Now, I know that we all can’t stand in a superhero pose for five minutes before every parenting decision—that isn’t my point. My point is that our minds are way more powerful than we could ever understand. The direction we point our thoughts directly determines the direction of our lives.
And when we choose to worry (and it is a choice), we choose to live lives that are half-lived.
So, what options do we have as parents to combat the worry? Outside of a superhero pose, I came up with ten parenting affirmations. I wrote these down in the notepad of my phone. When I start to spiral, I redirect my worry by reminding myself of these undeniable truths.
- I am the best parent for my children.
- I will not compare myself to other parents, or compare my kids to other kids.
- I will do what I can do. I can’t do it all, and that’s okay.
- My kids know they are loved, safe, and accepted.
- I will fully embrace today, knowing that not everything will go exactly as planned.
- It’s okay—in fact, it’s necessary—to take care of me sometimes.
- I might not see it now, but the time I invest in my kids does matter.
- My children don’t want perfect, they just want me.
- We are a family, no matter what. We will cheer for and defend each other, no matter what.
- It’s okay to ask for help.
Sometimes I have to read through my list more than once a day. I like to say them out loud. I even have my kids repeat some with me from time to time.
Why don’t you take a couple of minutes and write down a few affirmations of your own? Stand in a superhero pose too, if you need to. Control your thoughts—don’t let them control you.