“Why can’t I lay in your bed?” “You can either lay next to me quietly in your sleeping bag or I can take you back to your bed.” Brief silence. “Mom can I please lay next to you in bed?”
Really?! Why am I doing this? I am fighting every impulse in me to not snuggled him close and tell him – “it’s ok” and “I love you.” Why am I listening to the doctor’s advice? I feel like a horrible mom right now. Will this even work?
As I laid there feeling guilty, I began to play a highlight reel of every parenting mistake and regret I have ever made. All the “good” advice I followed that just didn’t pan out. My stomach sank and the thought struck me – “Am I going to look back on this moment as a regret or a mistake too?”
We have all been there. A moment where we dive headfirst into the rabbit hole of negative self-talk. Condemnation. Criticism.
Why are we so mean to ourselves? Why are we so critical of ourselves? Why do we overly analyze ourselves? Why do we berate and belittle ourselves?
I found the answer listening to a sermon podcast. In all honesty, the podcast didn’t even mention negative self-talk. The podcast was talking about Jesus and as I heard what they were sharing I immediately started to think about how Jesus is love (1 John 4:8).
Jesus met people in their need. He saw them. He saw their pain. And he acted, because…Jesus loved people.
Then I was reminded of a verse I had read a few days before:
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
1 John 3:18-20 MSG
And it finally sunk in what this verse was getting at. Love is the answer to stopping the negative self-talk. Practicing real love. Not just practicing love toward others, but beginning by practicing loving ourselves. Showing ourselves grace. Being kind to ourselves.
Jesus himself commanded us to:
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:31 NIV
Yet so often we are so cruel to ourselves. If we truly treated others the way we treat ourselves we would not be seen as loving nor kind. We can’t effectively love others if we don’t first love ourselves.
So what would life look like if we were loving and kind first and foremost to ourselves? What if we gave ourselves an extra helping of grace every day? What if we stopped the negative self-talk?
Where do we begin to practice love and stop the negative self-talk? First, we practice love. We make loving everyone, even ourselves, as Jesus loved our priority. We can even ask ourselves – Is what I am thinking or doing loving? If the answer is – “no” – stop doing it.
Second, we recognize when we start the negative self-talk and instead of diving into the rabbit hole headfirst – we stop. We end it. The best way to end it? I prayed. Then I shifted gears and embraced positive self-talk.
I know I am not a failure as a mom. My mistakes and regrets highlight reel is not an adequate representation of motherhood for me. We all mess up, but our mess ups are not our make up. Failures don’t make us a failure. They don’t define us.
I also have a best moments highlight reel. So I stopped focusing on the negative and shifted to the positive. What is my highlight reel of my best mom-moments?
So back to the sleep struggles with my youngest. The struggle is not over, but the other night he quietly wandered into my room. Without a peep he laid down next to me in his sleeping bag. It is still a nightly struggle, but I caught a glimpse of success and the end goal. A big win in my book!
I don’t have all the answers in motherhood and I often rely on the advice of experts. Maybe they pan out, maybe they don’t. At the end of the day I am trying my best to do what is best for my family. My intentions are good.
I may not get it right all the time, but just as John told us:
“…God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.”
1 John 3:20 MSG
I am extending myself grace and an extra helping of love knowing my motives are for everyone’s best, because we all need sleep around here!
Maybe it’s not motherhood for you. Maybe it’s your job. Your marriage. Your health. I find, we are most critical of ourselves in areas we are most invested. Whatever it may be, let’s catch ourselves the moment negative self-talk begins and redirect. Let’s love everyone, ourselves included, and stop the negative self-talk.