Friday, March 12, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

Yesterday we had a meeting with our local Moms group. I was particularly excited about it because a good friend was speaking, along with her sister, about something very personal and close to their hearts. There is an amazing feeling of cameraderie in a room filled with women who are committed to supporting each other. All of the ugliness in people just melts away, to allow room for a warm, caring spirit of acceptance.

I witnessed that in our group yesterday. It came from the transparent honesty of each speaker; the strength of character it took for them to tell us about their heart wrenching experiences with a no-holds-barred bravery that inspired everyone in the room. Tears were shed, emotions were stirred, and a call was given to action. We were encouraged to look around and realize that a kind word or a smile can be a lifeline to someone feeling desperately lonely. Women don't always feel comfortable talking about how they are really feeling. Often we smile and say we are okay because it's painful to admit that we are crumbling inside.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it society's expectations that have us so sure we must always be capable and functioning at our highest level, or our own? I wondered yesterday if I am my own jailer in this case. My judgements on myself become so harsh, my standards so ridiculously high, that I set myself up for failure before I begin. As a mother, so much of life is beyond my control, and yet I take it very personally when something goes wrong for one of my kids. I feel ashamed, as though I have failed, instead of taking a problem solving approach to the issue at hand and removing my emotion from the situation.

In my small discussion group we talked about the shame we feel as moms when something happens with our kids that we don't want others to know about. Shame is something we do to ourselves, but we hide from others because we don't want them to judge us and confirm that we should be ashamed. To be in that group of women yesterday, who were supporting each other fully, provided a positive energy unlike any other. It was extraordinary, but I would love to see that sense of open and honest support continue in my everyday life. Perhaps I should share what's really going on in my life and expect to be supported instead of judged. Would it change the interaction I have with people if my attitude was different? I'm going to try it as an experiment.

Worrying less about things outside of my control appeals to me. I cannot control what others think about me, my kids, and my life in general. But I can certainly affect what I think about myself, my kids and my life. I can project confidence or fear, misery or happiness, hope or panic. It's easier said than done, but I want to propel that sense of community support, bravery and honesty I experienced at my mom's group into my regular life.

It can start today. Instead of being afraid to take my kids back to the pediatric dentist for William to get his broken front teeth fixed and Ava to have a tooth pulled which is growing in at an angle, I can project a confidence I don't really feel, to reassure my kids that it's no big deal to face their fears and get a difficult job done. I can expect the best behaviour from them (and myself) instead of the worst. I can't change the outcome, but I can alter my expectations, and perhaps that in itself will make a difference to what happens.

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