Parenting at the best of times can be an uphill struggle and overwhelming for many reasons. Throw in a mix of sibling rivalry, parental financial concerns and a dose of PDA- professional involvement (or lack of for some) and the ‘normal’ uphill struggle can quickly become a phenomenal mountain – one which you keep slipping back down and then must re-climb the very bit that you mastered or overcome the day previous!
Negativity is in abundance and acts like a magnet. One slip-up attracts another. One blip gives way to the next. Working on our own individual mindset is mission enough and all too often parents raising children with SEN and disabilities also have to encounter frequent judgemental opinions of other families, professionals attempting to filter out those who do not fit their service and relentless form filling designed to focus in on identifying ‘problems’. All of this added on to the usual negativity of life’s stresses could arguably be sufficient evidence to predict how so many families end up with poor mental health, crushed confidence and depleted self esteem. Are you tired, emotionally exhausted and at times feeling helpless and hopeless? If you are then you may be able to empathise with much of mummagrizzlybears posts. I am mummagrizzlybear and I am determined to share some positivity amongst an isolated community of parents who suffer unsupported at the hands of professional systems that let them and their children down.
My personal well-being has been on a rollercoaster ride in recent months. I’ve experienced depression in previous years and have more recently encountered panic attacks, which shook my world more than the postnatal depression ever did. I’ve journeyed through antidepressants and various therapies over the years to reach a point where I no longer use medication to survive and am able to just about live as opposed to exist and on most occassions manage to create the right balance between home and work too. I am privileged to work in an arena that constantly allows me to support others into a more empowered position. We work on confidence and self esteem and self care. It is this very work that I believe has rescued me over the past few months. I have been able to apply tools (without even noticing that this is what I was doing at times) and overcome issues that otherwise may have sent me to the top of a cliff. How? Well it may sound patronising but I firmly believe we have more control and choice in life than we ever give ourselves credit for. We can choose to let negativity take a grip or we can choose to let it be an experience that we acknowledge and then let it go.
I’ll give you an example.
Yesterday I received a copy of a referral written by a very unsupportive head teacher and senco of the school from which my son was excluded from months ago. I’ve awaited this paperwork with trepidation. I had unconsciously decided that reading this paperwork would be hard. I’d attached my previous negative experiences of this witches lack of support with the current situation. On reading the referral I felt victimised. I felt targeted. I felt blamed. I found fault in her statements. Inaccuracies in her reports. Flaws in her wording. I took offence. I felt wounded. One line kept repeating over and over in my head. I handed the paperwork to daddybear and be scanned it and handed it back stating that although it was shit..it didn’t say that I was to blame nor did it say I’d done anything wrong. These were my own insecurities. These are the negative self talk haunting even the sunniest of days. But in that moment I could see that I had a choice. I could choose to let her opinions and inaccurate assumptions consume me or I could repeat my self prescribed mantra of positive self talk :
“I am a good mum”
“I am doing my best”
“Other people are entitled to their opinions; it doesn’t make them true”
“It is none of my business what other people think of me”
“I free myself from negativity”
“I choose to remain in control”
Negativity is consuming and rarely productive. It serves little purpose. It drags you deeper into it’s pit and relishes in our submittance. It watches us crack and surrender and will never offer a helping hand out of that pit. However, if we turn the tables and treat negativity differently it becomes weaker. Allowing yourself to recognise the feelings you experience. Name them. Explore them. What does it feel like, how has that affected your body and your thoughts and your behaviours? Now comes the part so often we forget to do… ACCEPT IT. You do not have to undo it, fight it or allow it to grow – just let it be. It’s ok to acknowledge that in a given moment you feel negative but it’s here in this moment you have the power. Here you can make a conscious choice to recognise it, experience it and ACCEPT IT, this is the liberating stage. It’s empowering you. Create a bank of positive self talk that you can turn to when you accept that negativity is filtering in. Choose to take control back and repeat these messages to yourself and out loud to others if it helps.
I was sharing my story of this form that had angered me with a great friend who turned and said “how are you so calm? I’d want to stick a hammer through her head if that were me!” For a moment we laughed. I shared just how I had felt initially and that yep mummagrizzlybear had definitely experienced momentary devilish revengeful thoughts but how much better I felt for practising my mantras and refusing to allow the negativity to win. Interestingly I’ve noted that by sharing my story I encountered further negativity (even from a meaning well friend)… watch out for that… it’s everywhere.
It is in the ACCEPTING that you will discover a freedom. A release. Some people practice mindfulness as a means of learning to live in the moment and let things go. I find that simply allowing ourselves to accept what is happening for us in that very moment is the way to look in and recognise our opportunity to get back in control. We can make healthier choices. We can choose to be happier and calmer. Negative emotions just eat us up and weaken our armour that we very much need to continue to ‘battle’ on for our children. Whoops.. . Look at the negative wording in there… ‘battle’ … I’ll rephrase that as I can choose to reframe things to ensure negativity is not in the driving seat. We need to focus on positive self talk more often to enable us to continue to grow and be everything we are needed to be for our children.