Category Archives for "Week Five – The reality of self-worth"

Week Five / Day One – Why you are 100% worthy just the way you are

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

There once was a child that entered into the world a beautiful perfect human being.  It had spent the last nine months inside its mother’s womb, growing from a tiny speck of a cell and forming into an amazing little person without any judgement, help or input from anyone else.  It was perfect and no one would ever deny that this child was born 100% worthy.

That little baby was you!

But as this baby grew up in the world, she looked around her and began observing the other people in her life and what was going on around her and as she began to interpret what was happening.  She realised that just being wasn’t enough.  She realized that there were certain things that she had to do, things she had to be and things she had to prove in order to keep this 100% worth and feel good about herself.

If she smiled, then this seemed to please people around her and that made her feel good.  As she got older she realized that when she did the right thing, again she made people smile, received approval from others and felt good about herself.  But when she made a mistake, or didn’t do the right thing, there were harsh consequences for that.  People would criticize her, punish her or call her names, which did not make her feel very good at all.

As life unfolded for this child, she learnt that in order to be a good person she needed to be accepted by her family, and eventually her friends.  In order to do this, she had to be a certain person.  So she began to attach her self-worth to labels, hold expectations of herself, and attempt to control and manipulate her world so that she could fit in, gain approval and live up to these labels in order to be accepted by her community.  These labels were characteristics of herself or achievements that made her look better to the world, which in turn made her feel good about herself.

Over time these labels would come and go, depending on her age and her surroundings and as she got older this habit of her worth being defined by her labels and achievements grew stronger and she learnt that the only way to maintain her worth was through approval, acceptance and being this good and successful person. 

She learnt that the only way to be a good and successful person was if she was happy and she got her life right, otherwise something was going wrong and she would be unable to have that perfect life or be the good/successful person she wanted to be.

Slowly over the years, more and more conditions were set as to what determined this good, worthy person that she now needed to be.  She began to fear any situations that may pose as a threat to her not feeling like she was worthy and not being seen as a good person.  More and more time was spent unconsciously controlling her life so that she could avoid feeling like a bad person because that caused her too much pain.

So she spent her life attaching her self-worth to how her life was unfolding, continually riding this roller coaster of feeling good about herself when life was meeting her expectations of good and bad, and then feeling bad about herself when it wasn’t meeting these expectations.

As life progressed, she would attempt to control her life so that she was able to maintain an acceptable level of feeling okay about herself, only occasionally feeling bad, and was generally able to keep up this mediocre feeling about herself.

But at one stage of her life (or periodically) she would feel as if she couldn’t do it any longer.  More and more evidence would come into her life that proved how she was failing at being that good person or being able to live up to those labels and achievements that made her acceptable to the world and she started to feel like she was failing at life.

Periodically she would be able to take back control of those situations by setting goals and getting life to go right again, but she would be anxious about it all going wrong again.  Despite endless efforts to control her life to keep achieving these expectations she had learnt to live up to, things would continually go wrong, making her feel like a failure again.

This became the cycle of her life which some people called Depression.  Her self-worth had deteriorated to being very low, or maybe even non-existent.

She began to see herself as a failure – someone who was failing at life (or failing at a particular area of her life).  Because it was too painful to keep feeling like a failure she would stop trying to do things in that area of her life, so that she could avoid feeling like a failure.

However, what she didn’t realise was that she wasn’t a failure at all.  In fact, her self-worth had never changed.  It had merely been clouded by all the judgements, criticisms, labels, need to achieve, need to be approved of or accepted and trying to get life right.  All of these thoughts came from her beliefs – incorrect beliefs that were set up early on in her life.

In order to stop the Depression, all she needed to do was learn new beliefs, rediscover what true self-worth was and why no matter what was happening in her life, she would always be valuable and worthwhile just by being alive.

Why you are always 100% worthy just the way you are

Knowing that you are 100% worthwhile can be one of the hardest beliefs to get your head around because all of that conditioning clouds your true inherent value.

The most important part to this reality step is to understand that a lack of self-worth lies at the core of all stress, including depression and anxiety.

The incorrect belief is that only when I can meet certain expectations (that is, get life right) can I be valuable.  So if I don’t live the way I ‘should’ and if I’m on the ‘wrong’ path, then this means something about me.  For depression, it simply means ‘I am a failure’.

However, we have already learnt that the reality of life is that we cannot always get life to go to plan.  Sometimes things go differently than how we expected them too, so does this mean that we can only be worthy when something is going right?  That would mean that no one is 100% worthy.

But we don’t look at other people that way do we?.  Take the closest person you know and I wouldn’t imagine that you would think they are worth-less.  However, they don’t always get life to go right, so why are they still worthy yet you are not?  The answer is because you have not attached your worth to them getting life right.  You have only attached your worth to getting your life right because that is what you have learnt to measure your value by.

The reality of self-worth, however, is that you are always 100% worthwhile.  Your worth comes from your very existence.  In every moment of your life you are always giving a part of yourself to the world around you.  You interact with others and influence their lives and become part of their journey.  Other people learn from you and your knowledge that has come from your experiences, and this knowledge helps their lives to unfold the way it does.  You do this with family, friends and even strangers that you may just smile at, or scowl at even.

Every single moment of your life is contributing to the life of someone else either directly or indirectly.  Now as you travel along your unique journey through life you get more information from your experiences, you grow as a person and you further share who you are with other people.  You are continuously contributing to other peoples’ lives as you grow and learn in yours.  At the same time, other people are continually contributing to your life, your experiences, your learning and how your life unfolds.  In turn this continues the cycle of you then contributing back to other people from your new experiences.  And thus the circle of life continues.

Every one of us is worthy because of our very existence and because of the learning and contributing that we all do for one another.  You are no exception.  You are a very important part of the world, simply because you are in it and contributing who you are to humanity.

You agree that a newborn baby has 100% worth. Why?  Because he/she exists.  You don’t say to this baby “You have to be a certain weight to be valuable”, or “you didn’t come out of my womb in the right way, so you are worth-less”.  No, you don’t say that.  You accepted this little baby just as he/she was – because of their existence.

Your worth has not changed.  You have always been worthy because of your existence and the only thing that has changed, has been your belief about yourself, because you have adopted the beliefs of others who have also been conditioned to believe that achievements and getting life right, defines self-worth.

However, if you took you out of the equation of life the world changes.  No longer do people interact with you and get the learning that they get off you and no longer do they experience you in their lives.  This changes how their life unfolds.

Have you ever seen the movie Sliding Doors starring Gwenyth Paltrow?   It shows two ways her life could have gone all because of a little boy dropping a toy on the steps of the train station when she was trying to catch the train (or something like that).  In one scenario, the boy does not drop the toy and she manages to catch her train.  In the other scenario, she has to stop momentarily because of the boy and she misses the train.  When she catches the train, she gets home to find her boyfriend cheating on her and in the other scenario where she misses the train, she doesn’t catch her boyfriend cheating and he continues to do so behind her back.

As the movie progresses you are shown how each scenario differed from the other with major differences in outcome. We are all playing the part of that little boy in someone else’s life in every moment.  We are constantly influencing the way someone’s life unfolds, just by being who we are.  You do that for people both directly and indirectly.

Just by being you, you contribute to using and paying for utilities, buying groceries, being a consumer, using trades and services, paying your car registration, driving your car, being a member of somewhere, going to work, being a mum or dad, being a wife or husband, being a sibling, being a daughter or son, going for a walk, even getting fish and chips for dinner.  Everything you do adds to someone else’s life and their experiences in it that without you, wouldn’t happen or wouldn’t unfold the way it did.

Without you, your family wouldn’t be what it is.  Without all of us contributing to buying groceries, there wouldn’t need to be grocery stores, therefore no farming and all those people would be out of work.  If people didn’t drive their cars, there would be no need for roads or road maintenance and all those people would be out of work.  Every one contributes to those things and each one of us contributes to a part of that whole.    This is why your existence is so valuable, because without you, the world is a different place.

Look a little closer to home. If you begin to see all of the different ways that you are contributing to your home life, your children, your husband (or wife), your extended family, your friends, your work colleagues, you will see the important roles you play in your life that contribute to why you are worthy.

However, don’t think that these roles define your existence, for that kind of attachment is what has caused your stress in the first place.  The point is that if you weren’t playing out these roles, then you would be playing some other role in your existence that was equally contributing to the unfolding of life. 

It doesn’t matter what you are doing, you are always valuable because you are always learning from all of your experiences and contributing a piece of yourself to this world, impacting how life unfolds.  When you understand this you no longer need to attach your self-worth to achievement, outcome, labels, or expectations, because you know that your worth is always intrinsic.  It cannot be added to and it cannot be taken away, because you are always 100% worthy just by being alive.

Here is one example of how to apply this thinking in the context of parenting in the form of an ‘unnatural’ labour:

You may feel like you have failed because you have not been able to have a natural labour.  Perhaps you had to have drugs, or a caesarean.  Feeling like you have failed is you feeling worth-less.  Perhaps you feel as if the midwife or doctor did not do something correctly and you blame them for your unnatural birth.  Regardless of what the situation is, at the core of the story you are telling yourself about the labour, you will have some belief that now that the labour went this way, this means something about your life (‘I have failed at giving my child the best start to life.  I was weak and couldn’t go without drugs.  I’m supposed to be the decision maker for that innocent child because I am his mother and I should have demanded that the doctors let me have him naturally’).  There could be many worth-less beliefs that you have about that situation, but here’s how you can look at that situation differently by aligning with the reality of self-worth:

By having the labour you had, you have contributed to the life of your child.  He/she has had the experience of entering into the world the way they did (reality) and that has now formed part of your little one’s journey in life.  It is not good or bad, just one experience of many that will be had on his life’s path.  By having drugs or a caesarean, you have contributed to the learning and experience of the midwives who were administering the treatment.  You contributed to your partner who was with you and watched you make the decisions that you did.  He had an experience of labour just the way it was, which has affected his life in some way.  You learnt information about your labour that you will undoubtedly share with other mothers, friends and family who will retain that information and possibly share your story with others, further influencing their experiences of motherhood.  You never know how far your story will go and what affect it has on another person.

The point is that we won’t ever know how we affect other people, and we don’t need to.  The only thing you need to know is that you are contributing to others and without you, their lives would be different.  No better or worse, just different and so would yours without their influence on your life.

Looking at the reality of self-worth and understanding that no matter how life unfolds you are always 100% worthwhile because you are always learning and contributing to life, is the last phase of expanding your mindset to be in alignment with reality.

By the time you have come to this point on the reality thinking model, you have already accepted the reality of the situation, looked at the reality of being a parent and the reality of life in general, and now with the reality of self-worth, you are reminding yourself of what this situation really means about you, and that is essentially nothing bad, because you are always learning, growing and contributing to the flow of life through every experience you have, including the highs and the lows.  This is what defines your worth.

The real changes that come with applying the reality of self-worth are when you ascertain how you are contributing by challenging that worth-less thinking that you have and looking for all those ways (as shown in the unnatural labour example) that you did contribute and learn, thereby maintaining your worth.

It is another way of finding the hidden good in the bad, except you are looking specifically at how you, as a human being, have given value to another, or how the experience has been valuable to your life.

As we continue through the week you are going to learn more about how to apply this new thinking about your worth to your life and to the many different issues that arise when you are feeling worth-less and like a failure.

Sometimes our ‘not good enough’ beliefs can be very strongly ingrained in our minds. We have spent years seeing our shortcomings and now you are being asked to stretch your mindset to looking at your value in a different way, a much more expanded way. 

This week you are going to stop attaching your worth to how life unfolds and instead, begin acknowledging how life unfolding is contributing to why you are always 100% worthy.

Week Five / Day Two – Why self-worth lies at the core of all stress

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

It is common for people to say to me “But I don’t actually feel worth-less, so how can feeling worth-less be at the core of all stress?”

The answer to that is because different people have different interpretations of what worth-less means.  Often that terms congers up definitions of being completely broken or feeling completely useless, hopeless or having no value at all.  While this is a form of worthlessness and is likely to be how you are feeling when you are depressed, other times you may not feel this badly.

The term worth-less is exactly that – worth……less.  It means that you feel less than 100 percent worthy.  This could mean that you are only feeling 80% good about yourself, when you normally feel 90% good about yourself.  Or it could mean that you feel 30% good about yourself instead of the 80% you used to feel before this event occurred.

What happens though is that you have observed what is happening in your life and because of your interpretation on how it’s unfolding, you are feeling bad about it to some degree.  Underneath that bad feeling is the beliefs that these events, or how your life is right now, is devaluing the quality of your life or you in some way.

This could be as simple as someone cutting you off while driving and you getting angry about it, or it could mean that everything in your life seems like an indication that you are completely failing at life as a whole.

Either extreme comes down to what you have perceived that situation to mean about you.  You have rated this situation/event as being worth less than what it should be. 

How worth-less we feel can fluctuate all the time, depending on what’s going on and how we interpret this situation and in later lessons this week I will show you exactly why it fluctuates and how you can stop it.

For now, let me explain the process of how a self-worth belief is always at the core of all stress – including depression and anxiety.

The process of feeling worth-less

It all starts with observing the situation.  With all the beliefs you already hold that have been formed from all of the experiences you have had leading up to this moment (although primarily taught between zero to seven), you analyse the situation to determine what it means.

This process in the brain is very quick.  What the brain is doing during this process is sifting through all of your past memories, beliefs, opinions and points of view that are relevant to what you are currently seeing.  It locates the strongest belief that you have that matches what you are seeing and locates the appropriate response to that event (also determined by your memories and beliefs).  How you view the situation creates a physical response in your body which could be happiness, sadness, anger, exhilaration, guilt, or feeling really bad.

You have seen in the first week’s videos how the brain links all the information you have and how it has formed physical connections in the brain.  This is what is happening when you are thinking about what you are seeing in front of you. Your brain is following the pathways that have been conditioned to fire off whenever presented with an event similar to the one you are experiencing.  This is why you continue to habitually think the way that you do.

Now if you have been conditioned to see what is wrong in a situation, then that is what you will see.  If you have been conditioned to see how you are missing out all of the time, then this is what your brain has been trained to find in a situation.  If you have been taught to blame or criticise,  then, again you will find the problems and then look for who’s to blame and what they are doing wrong.

But at the bottom of all that, what really causes the pain of that negative emotion, is your beliefs about what this situation means about me.

If the situation is going wrong, and that essentially puts you on the wrong path, away from the right path you should be on, then this means something about you (in your mind).  ‘My life is not valuable.  I am useless because I should be doing it right.  Everything is going wrong.  It’s not the way things are supposed to go and that means my life’s quality or value has decreased.’

‘If I’m missing out, then my life has diminished in some way.  If someone else has done the wrong thing, then this diminishes my life in some way.’

If you are simply angry at being cut off in traffic, this is still you feeling that for that split moment, the situation (which is part of your life) has diminished in quality to some degree. It’s only a fairly minor event in your life, which you would probably overcome quite quickly, but you still feel like this situation has cheated you of how it was supposed to go (the right path which would keep my life at 100%).

Similarly if you are at the other end of the scale where you are feeling like a complete failure, it is because your brain has gone down the path of seeing everything that is going on in your life ultimately meaning that you or your life are a complete failure.

This thinking does not represent truth however, it’s just a train of thought that has been made habitual in your mind and needs to be changed.  There are always many different perspectives on how we can view a situation, but if you are seeing life’s events as continually meaning you are a failure, or you are constantly feeling angry, guilty, sad, upset, or stressed, it is only because of the habitual pathway that is firing in your brain, which is accessing this line of thinking and consequently creating those physical feeling that you identify with as anger, guilt, sadness, stress etc.

The upgrade to this habitual line of thinking.

It is imperative that you begin to understand how the brain works, so that you can really understand what is going on when you feel the way you do.  It doesn’t matter whether you are feeling stressed, depressed or anxious.  The difference between these three mental illnesses is really just a difference in physical response.  Stress is a feeling of tension and uneasiness.  Depression is a sad, melancholy, low feeling and Anxiety is a panicky, nervousness response. 

Ultimately though, underlying each of these illnesses is simply an incorrect assessment of the situation (due to habitual thinking set up long ago) and what you have determined it means about your quality of life, is what is causing those feelings or reactions.

When you can understand that it is the habitual thinking, and know that this thinking is not a correct perception, or that there is another perspective to see the situation through, then you don’t become so attached by it.  Even acknowledging that your perception is just the brain’s habitual response to challenges in life and that you are in the process of ‘re-routing’ those connection through repetition and forcing your brain to look at life another way, can be a huge step forward to stopping your stress.  Recognising that your current view of life is causing you the pain and that it is not permanent starts you detaching from it.  It stops consuming you so much.

The next step after acknowledging your current thinking and detaching from it with this new understanding (which is essentially step one of the TRACK process – Thoughts) is to deliberately lead your mind in another direction.  That is – follow step two of the TRACK process – Reality.

Teach your mind to expand from this narrow view of life and send it in the direction of reality by first accepting the reality of the situation, then looking at the reality of being a parent, then what the reality of the situation is in the context of your whole life and finally why you are always worthy throughout every event of your life, because of how this event is contributing to your life and how it is contributing to the lives of others.

Stopping stress, depression and anxiety is all about stopping the train of thoughts that lead to the feelings of stress, depression and anxiety.  You don’t need to roll around in your past to do that  You need to concentrate on changing your thoughts right now, in this moment, to be in alignment with reality.  Right now is the only moment you ever have and each time you direct your mind in this new direction of reality, you will be training your mind to make this pathway a new habit, and the old one will die off.

But this happened and that caused me to feel stressed, depressed or anxious

The many clients that I have worked with and the thousands of posts that I have scrolled through on parenting and depression forums, have spoken extensively on how events have caused their pain.  However as I have said many times during this program it is never events that cause you to feel this way.  It is how you have perceived (thought about) these events, and what you believe these events mean about you (how it has diminished yours or your life’s value/worth).

Here are some common examples that I am talking about and how your thinking about each situation ultimately boils down to beliefs about self-worth:

I have moved away from family and this has caused my PND

Moving did not cause your PND, because if it did, then everyone who moves would experience depression.  It is how you have viewed this move that causes the feeling of depression.  Here’s what thoughts might be occurring:

  • ‘I don’t know anyone’ (SW Belief:  this means I have no one to make me feel valuable).
  •  ‘I have no support’ (SW Belief:  if no one supports me, then I have no one to lean on when I should be able to lean on someone or get help sometimes and because I believe this and I’m not getting the support, then my life has lessened in quality compared to how it would be if I was getting support.)

 

My baby doesn’t stop crying and I just can’t bond with him.  This is making me depressed.

It’s not the baby that you don’t like, it’s the crying that you don’t like and when you can separate the human from the behaviour, then you can start to love him just the way he is. But to do this you must first look at what you are thinking about the crying that is causing you the stress.  Here’s what thoughts might be occurring and how they come back to beliefs about your worth:

  • ‘I should know what’s wrong with him and be able to help him’ (SW Beliefs:  This means I’m not being a good enough mother and that causes me pain and makes me feel bad)
  • ‘He shouldn’t be crying like this’ (SW Beliefs:  Because he is crying like this it is ruining how I should be feeling about him and that makes me feel like the motherhood experience – which is part of my life – has devalued because of his crying.  This is all due to the fact that I believe motherhood should be experienced with joy and love all the time.)

 

My partner left me and that’s what has caused my depression

Lots of people experience marriage break ups, yet don’t get depressed.  It is not because they are better than people who do get depressed, it is simply because they think differently about the situation and don’t have their self-worth attached to it.  Here are some possible beliefs about this situation and how they ultimately spiral into self-worth beliefs:

  • ‘Children should be raised with a mum and a dad together’ (SW Belief:  If they aren’t raised this way then the quality of my child’s life has decreased and if that has decreased and I am responsible for giving them a great life, then what does that say about me?)
  • ‘I’m never going to get another man, or father for my children’ (SW Belief:  I am going to end up alone and not important to anybody, not loved, not part of someone’s life and this decreases my life’s value, or my child’s quality of life is less because they don’t have a father in their life and that is ultimately my responsibility because I ‘should’ be giving them a happy life.)
  • ‘My plans for being financially comfortable have all changed and now I won’t have much money’.(SW Beliefs:  My life is less valuable because I cannot buy the things that I believe I need for my life to be valuable.  Also, my kids miss out on getting what they need to be happy and their happiness is my responsibility, so if they are unhappy and not getting what they need then it’s my fault and I’m not a good enough mother providing what her children need)

In all of these cases, it has come down to what they believed (their story) about these situations that is causing them to feel stressed.  Let’s revisit these situations and change the story, this time with an accurate view of self-worth – the upgrade.

 

I have moved away from family and this has caused my PND

‘I don’t know anyone’ (SW Belief:  this means I have no one to make me feel valuable.)

Upgrade:  When I move somewhere new I cannot expect to know people straight away.  This by no means reflects my quality of life, it is simply a reality of life that when you move you don’t really know anyone straight away.  I simply need to join some groups as soon as possible (solutions:  step 3-5 on the TRACK process) and start forming a friend support network.  My value has not changed, it is simply a new situation and it won’t last forever.  This situation will teach me how to meet new people and I will experience new relationships that will contribute to my life and I will be contributing to theirs.

‘I have no support’ (SW Belief:  if no one supports me, then I have no one to lean on when I should be able to lean on someone or get help sometimes and because I believe this and I’m not getting the support, then my life has lessened in quality compared to how it would be if I was getting support.)

Upgrade:  My life is not less valuable because right now I don’t have the support I would like.  It simply means that this is a time in my life where circumstances have changed where I had the support and now I don’t and it just means that I have to set up new networks of support by meeting new people and seeking out that help.  This can be a great thing as I am going to be inviting new relationships and experiences into my life.

 

My baby doesn’t stop crying and I just can’t bond with him.  This is making me depressed.

 ‘I should know what’s wrong with him and be able to help him’ (SW Beliefs:  This means I’m not being a good enough mother and that causes me pain and makes me feel bad)

Upgrade: A good mother is not one that knows everything at all times.  I can’t know everything there is to know about babies. This is just a time where I have to learn more about my child by reading, trying new things and getting to know my child’s different behaviours and what they mean.  This situation is just a time for me to learn more about being a mother which is all contributing to part of the overall motherhood experience.  This is just one event in the long line of experiences I will have as a mum.

‘He shouldn’t be crying like this’ (SW Beliefs:  Because he is crying like this it is ruining how I should be feeling about him and that makes me feel like the motherhood experience – which is part of my life – has devalued because of this experience due to the fact that I believe motherhood should be experienced with joy and love all the time.)

Upgrade:  The motherhood experience is full of ups and downs.  Having a bad day where nothing is going the way I would like, or having days on end where my child is not sleeping or is misbehaving, is just a part of being a mother, just like there are good days that are really rewarding too.  My motherhood experience has not devalued as it is a normal part of being a mum to experience times like these. These times are also lessons for me on how to teach my child what to do and also for them to experience life and the consequences of behaviour, or learn a new skill.  This moment is contributing to my life, not devaluing it.

 

My partner left me and that’s what has caused my depression

‘Children should be raised with a mum and a dad together’ (SW Belief:  If they aren’t raised this way then the quality of my child’s life has decreased and if that has decreased and I am responsible for giving them a great life, then what does that say about me?)

Upgrade:  While I’m always going to do the best thing for my kids, I cannot control how life goes sometimes and I am not responsible for their happiness.  The break-up was an experience in their lives that they will learn and grow from, as it is in mine too.  This situation is just a part of our experience through life and the ups and downs that come with it.  It is contributing to my knowledge about relationships, helping me to become independent and helping me to be closer to my kids, therefore adding value to my life.  Sure it would be great if we were together and had that ‘ideal’ family, but it was not to be, so I can look at what is valuable about what is happening.

 ‘I’m never going to get another man, or father for my children’ (SW Belief:  I am going to end up alone and not important to anybody, not loved, not part of someone’s life and this decreases my life’s value, or my child’s quality of life is less because they don’t have a father in their life and that is ultimately my responsibility because I ‘should’ be giving them a happy life.)

Upgrade: I am a valuable human being with strengths and weaknesses just like anybody else.  There is no reason why I couldn’t have another relationship in the future, but in the meantime, my worth is still the same.  All that has happened is that my ex-partner’s beliefs and my beliefs have changed over the years and these beliefs no longer connect harmoniously.  It simply means that we have contributed and learnt from each other all there is to learn as a couple and that it’s time to move on.  My children’s lives are not less either. They are just having a different experience that they too will learn from.  I am not responsible for their life always going to plan, as this is not something I can control, nor can I control how they feel about life when it doesn’t.  All I can do is help them to understand life and accept it when life doesn’t go their way.

‘My plans for being financially comfortable have all changed and now I won’t have much money’.  (SW Beliefs:  My life is less valuable because I cannot buy the things that I believe I need for my life to be valuable.  Also, my kids miss out on getting what they need to be happy and their happiness is my responsibility, so if they are unhappy and not getting what they need then it’s my fault and I’m not a good mother providing what her children need)

Upgrade:  My worth is not attached to the stuff that I have.  While, sure it makes my life easier to have the good things in life, they do not define who I am.  Throughout my life I am giving a part of myself to my children, my friends, my family and everyone around me. I will learn new ways of bringing money into the house and how to be stringent and respectful of money. This in turn will teach my children to respect and value money, rather than getting everything handed to them.  This could turn out to be some pretty good lessons for my kids in work ethic and appreciating what you have.

You can see in all of these upgrades that the story has completely changed.  You will see parts of the reality of the situation, the reality of parenting and the reality of life in these upgrades and ultimately, all of them are about what you can learn from the situation and how it is contributing to your life, not how it devalues it (makes it worth-less).

Every situation has value and makes up your 100% worth.  Worth cannot be added to nor taken away because every event holds lessons we learn and contributes to our life and/or someone else’s life. 

The way to stop your postnatal depression or anxiety is to feed your mind new ‘stories’ about the challenges you face. Stop your habitual thinking that sends you into those painful emotions and begin seeking different ways of looking at these situations using the reality thinking model; the reality of the situation, the reality of parenting, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth.

How is this situation contributing to your life, your learning, your child’s life, your child’s learning or the people around you?  What is it teaching you about the events (relationships, parenting, the skill of something) or what is it teaching you about the reality of life in general (the ups and downs, the learning, understanding people etc).

As we continue on this week of understanding your true self-worth, you are still to learn why our worth fluctuates so much and how we can stop that, and we continue with learning how to apply all the reality steps to the common situations relating to stress, depression and anxiety in parenting.

Week Five / Day Three – Attaching ‘stuff’ to self-worth

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

Why we feel worth-less is because we have attached our worth to something we believe is important.  Over the years leading up to now you have come to believe that having certain things in life or getting your life to go a certain way, is what defines your self-worth.

This incorrect belief about your worth means that you are only ever able to be happy about your life when you are able to see that life is going the way you expect it to.

However we know just by looking at every human being in the history of the world, that life doesn’t always go as expected.  So if we attach our worth to the outcome of our lives, the goal of being happy in life becomes very elusive and unobtainable in the long term.

This is why in the search for happiness you may often feel like you are never happy in life.

What needs to happen is for you to identify what you are attaching your self-worth to and then detach from it with the understanding of true self-worth.

The rest of this lesson will be dedicated to the many different ways we attach our self-worth to the ‘stuff’ going on in our lives and how we can change our view of the situation by applying the reality of self-worth.

Identity

From a very young age we are taught to find our place in the world – Be a ‘somebody’ and be doing something or behaving a certain way in order to feel valuable.  Our identity is made up of all of the characteristics that make us who we are.  This list of characteristics is fine to have and it’s nice to know what we like to do or the person we’d like to be, the problem comes when we attach our worth to having to do those things or be that person.

Loss of identity is a major issue for many new parents.  This can only occur because there has been some attachment to the person they used to be and now they feel like that person is lost, causing them to feel less valuable.

When you have attached your worth to having to live a certain way and you cannot live that way anymore, you feel like you have lost a part of yourself and this is what makes you feel worth-less.  ‘That certain way of living was what defined my life as valuable, however now I am experiencing something different, my life is not as valuable anymore.’

There are many different ways that we can attach our worth to our identity and then when we have become parents, we feel that a part of us has been lost.  Here are just a few of them and how we can upgrade this thinking to be in alignment with true self-worth:

My career was who I am.  The social status you had at work, the authority, the interaction, the challenges, being the organiser, the ‘boss’, the good looking one, the smart one, the one that everyone came to when there was a problem, where I was accepted etc. All of these things made my life valuable and made me feel good about myself, but now I am ‘just a stay at home’ mum I don’t have any of those things and now feel like my life is less valuable (worth-less).

Upgrade:  Your career is not who you are, it is just what you were doing in that stage of your life and now you are doing something different.  During that time you were contributing your knowledge to other people and they were contributing their knowledge to you.  You were learning about your job and how to interact with other people. 

This is what you are doing in motherhood too.  You are contributing your knowledge to the lives of your children. You are contributing to the running of the household which could not function without what you do.  You are learning how to be a mother and having the experience of motherhood.  Your value lies in what you are learning and how you are contributing to those around you and you are always doing this whether at work or at home.  The only reason why you believe it makes you feel better is because you have relied on others to dictate your worth by seeking their compliments, approval and acceptance.  When you look at the value of what you are doing now and really see how this makes a difference to yours and someone else’s life, then you will be able to dictate your value, not rely on others to tell you what your value is.

You are growing a potential adult here.  You are raising the future generation!  Every day you are teaching this little person about the world and helping them to live in it.  I’d say that’s a pretty crucial contribution to make to society, wouldn’t you?  While  you are doing this you are contributing to having your family’s life function successfully. How does everyone in your family eat well without you cooking for them?  How does everyone stay healthy and not get sick from germs without you cleaning the house?  How do your children know how to behave and be polite, kind and learn appropriate morals without your instruction and guidance?  You are still learning to use your organisational skills. 

Your life is valuable now because you are able to meet new people and have different experiences being a mum, like going to the beach during the week or meeting friends for coffee.  You can go to the shops during the day without having to do it at night or on weekends.  You get to dictate what your plans are for the day and no one tells you what you have to do.  These are all things that you are not able to do when you work.

Neither work, nor being at home makes your life better or worse.  There are always ups and downs that come with every experience and all experiences contribute value to your life.  Once again, it all depends on how you look at it!

The reality is that you are not in your career anymore, or at least not for now.  Stop looking at how you were valuable then and start looking at how you are valuable now and how this current experience is contributing to your life and the lives of others.

My great physique and looks was who I am.  Having a good figure and looking good before I had kids made me feel accepted by other people.  I would often get compliments off people about how I looked, or got attention from other men that made me feel good, but now that I have put on weight from having the kids, look tired all the time and walk around in public with two kids in tow, I hardly feel like the sexy woman I used to be and I don’t get those compliments anymore.  I now feel like I am not attractive to anyone (and feel worth-less because of it).

Upgrade:  You may have relied on the approval or beliefs of others to dictate your worth.  You have been conditioned to believe that how you look defines worth and the only way to feel valuable is to look good in the eyes of another human being.  If you rely on the opinions of others to dictate your worth, then you will always find somebody who will disappoint you, because everyone has different beliefs on what looks good or not.  What you need to do here is look for what is great about your body that holds value in your life.  Your body housed another human being. You contributed to life with that body.  That’s a massive accomplishment!  If you breastfed, then your body produced food and sustenance for another life in their early days.  This body of yours takes you from A to B.  It helps you to live and functions by itself, mostly without you even having to think about it.

You cannot change how you look in a lot of cases (except weight loss and muscle tone or course), but you can appreciate (be grateful for) what you do have.  We all have bits about ourselves that we do like and we all have functioning parts of our bodies that we can appreciate.  We have noses that can smell, legs that can walk, ears that can hear, tongues that can taste, stomachs that digest, bowels that get rid of waste, fingers that can hold, arms that can cuddle our children, brains that can think etc. 

When you start to see the value in your body and how it contributes to your life, instead of looking at all the bad parts of it, then you will come to see that your body not only holds 100% value, it is also giving value to the people in your life, as it facilitates the movement you need to participate in their lives.

 

Earning money gave me independence.  Before children I used to contribute half of the money to the house and now I contribute nothing.  This makes me dependant on my husband for money and I feel worth-less because of that. 

Upgrade:  What does it take for a family to function?  Earning money to pay bills, putting food in the cupboards, meals need to be cooked, clothes need to be washed, ironed and put away, household items need to be bought, cars need to have fuel in them, cars need to be maintained, houses need to be cleaned, lawns needs to be mowed, emotional support needs to be given to each other, children need to be taught how to live in the world, and I’m sure there are many more things that apply to your particular circumstances.  Every one of those things is a part of the whole picture of how a family operates and what needs to be done in order to get it functioning efficiently. 

Earning money is just a part of this family unit and while you may have been contributing this to you and your partner before children, your life now includes some other people which now make up a family and this now means that there is more that needs to be done in order to make your family function well.  Right now, you are attending to other matters of life as a parent that needs attention.  Money is just a part of that.

We have been taught to place so much value in what we earn, but this is just the ‘get your life right’ thinking of society.  We are not defined by the paper, gold and silver in our purses, or the numbers in our bank account.  It is just part of what is needed to function in the world.  All those other things that need doing hold just as much value to the functioning of your life and someone needs to do them.  At the moment, while your children are young, this someone is you. 

When you can look at what you are doing as being valuable to your life and to the contribution of everyone else’s life around you too and stop attaching your value to how you think life should be going, then you will stop feeling so worth-less

Stress is not about the event. It’s how you view that event.   Stop looking at how events are making your life less and start replacing your ‘story’ with how this situation is benefiting your life. 

Attaching your worth to happiness

The problem is that we have been heavily conditioned to yearn for this good feeling of happiness.  There’s no denying how awesome it is to feel happy and we all enjoy this feeling.  But happiness is an emotion that is felt when life is meeting our expectations.

Sometimes life doesn’t meet our expectations and that isn’t going to make us feel happy.  We are not going to smile our way through a very public tantrum at the shops or a disagreement with our partner, or 3 days straight of no sleep, but there is a big difference between feeling sad or disappointed about what’s happening and feeling depressed, stressed or anxious.  The difference is how we are measuring these events against our overall worth, or life’s value.

We need to detach these times from our overall worth and keep them in perspective.  The good times in our lives are moments that reward us, teach us about life, motivate us, keeps us setting goals and contributes value to our lives and to the people around us.

The bad times do this too.  Without bad times we do not even know what good times are.  Without bad times we don’t learn what we need to that propel us towards the good times.  Without bad times we are not motivated to try new things and reach new goals.  Without bad times we do not learn big lessons that can sometimes change our lives and subsequently affect the lives around us in a profound way too.

How many times have you had a bad experience that has ended up being the best thing that ever happened to you because of what it taught you?  How many times have you heard someone else say that they learnt so much off someone else’s bad times, or through the bad times they had themselves?

If you are having a bad day, find the value in it.  Why does it have to be a good day?  Just because it makes you feel good?  Why does it make you feel good?  Only because of your opinion of it.  Change how you view the situation and you will change the way you feel about it.

If you are having a bad day where your kids are crying, having tantrums, being loud, you are tired, the house is a mess and everything seems to be going ‘wrong’, you are not going to feel happy. 

Many will just say, ‘I’m having a bad day’ and that will be that.  It won’t be enjoyable, but we have a level of understanding that it will pass.

Bad days are something that occurs in all our lives, but again, you will only label the day as bad, if you are looking at everything in it as being wrong.  If you look at what is going well too, then you cease rating it as good or bad, but instead see it as just different events occurring in your life.

Stress and depression is where we feel like an event (or maybe a series of events) means that your overall life has been devalued.  Anxiety is the fear that an event will devalue your life in some way. Someone with depression has their attention in the past.  Someone with anxiety has their attention on the future.

You can be down, sad or disappointed about something that is going on in your life, but it is when your mind determines that this event is attached to the measure of your entire worth that you begin to feel stress, depression or anxiety.

Recognising the value in all things that come into your life will be the key to stopping stress, depression and anxiety, for everything makes your life 100% worthy because of what you learn from it and how your knowledge contributes to how your life unfolds and how it influences the unfolding of others’ lives.

There are so many ways that we continue to attach our self-worth to our ‘stuff’ so in tomorrow’s lesson we are going to continue looking at the other many reasons we feel worth-less and how we can upgrade these beliefs with a new story aligned with the reality of self-worth.

Week Five / Day Four – Attaching more of our ‘stuff’ to self-worth

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

This week is all about learning how we can stop attaching our self-worth to the achievements, outcomes and expectations we have about our lives and how to stop feeling worth-less whenever life doesn’t meet these ideals that we have been taught to believe define our worth.

You will find that some of these attachments are not about being a parent at all. We often blame our new life, our child’s behaviour or some other parenting event for our stress, depression or anxiety, but when we dig a little deeper we find that it is usually something very different that is bothering us that needs to be addressed.

At the bottom of it all is what you believe these events mean about you.  These incorrect beliefs are what make you feel bad about your life.

Let’s continue to look at the different way we do this:

Social Class

From the moment we enter our schools we are taught to define ourselves by what we do, what we are and what we have.  Society likes to put people into categories and focus on achievement and how we can make life go right, so very early on we learn to define ourselves by how we are fitting in with society.

We may have grown up in a rich area where people had a lot of possessions, were well off and the kids at school always had expensive things.  We may have come to believe that this is what we need to have in our lives and give to our children, so if circumstances arise where we are no longer able to have these things, we begin to feel worth-less because of it.

Upgrade:  Worth comes from existence.  That’s it.  Whether we have expensive things or not, our worth comes from how we are learning and growing in life and how our knowledge and our existence contributes to the lives of others.  Having money and things contributes to having an easier lifestyle, being able to buy more things and keeping the economy functioning, but equally having very little amount of money helps you to appreciate things that you do get to have, helps you to respect money and feel rewarded when you get what you have been striving for.  You can help your kids learn more about the value of a dollar and the value of hard work, determination and the self-confidence that is gained from being able to buy what you have worked for.

Both of these scenarios hold value to your life.  Either one of these scenarios contributes to your life in a beneficial way and contributes to the lives of those around you.  It all depends on how you look at it! 

 

Being a ‘good’ mother

From the moment we find out we are pregnant and we are given our bounty bags full of information about pregnancy and having a child, we are bombarded with how to get parenting right. We see huggies commercials that show us how we should feel so happy and in love with our child and what is the right way to feel.  We hear stories where parents are exposed when they have done the ‘wrong’ thing.  We here endless documentaries telling us about new research on how to do this or that with your child in order to make them happier, more confident, smarter, healthier, more attractive etc.  All of this information is educational, but often it compounds into parents feeling like there are so many things that they need to do in order to raise their children in the ‘right’ way, that if they make even one little mistake or see their child unhappy due to something that could have been prevented, they wind up feeling like a bad parent.

The attachment of everything going right in parenting in order to be a good mother, is a very common cause of stress, depression and anxiety.

Upgrade:  To upgrade this one, we need to look at the whole reality thinking model.  The reality of being a parent is that we cannot control how our children’s lives unfold.  They will misbehave as they learn what is appropriate behaviour.  They will go through developmental stages.  They are learning how to interpret life themselves and you are not the only teacher in their lives.  As they grow up, they are also learning off dad, grandparents, siblings, friends and even strangers.  These people all have their own experiences that have taught them how to view life and they are all contributing to the learning of your little one.  We cannot control how our children perceive life, so we will never be able to control how they respond to it or behave.  All we can do as their parents, is educate ourselves as much as we can on how to help our children learn to deal with life whenever issues come up, and pass on our knowledge to them. 

However they are experiencing their life, this is what they need in order for the them to get the learning they need in their journey through life.  Every experience they have is valuable to their learning and growing.  You will never get life to go right for them all the time, because no one experiences a life without ups AND downs.  You are only ever doing what you know how to do and just by existing as their mum and passing on the information that you currently have in the best way you know how to teach it right now, IS you being the best parent that you can be.

Your worth is not attached to the outcome of your child’s behaviour, how they look, how happy they are or how their life is unfolding.  As difficult as it is to watch our children go through their lows in life, especially if it is because of a decision that you made, it is a reality of life and you have contributed to some learning that they needed to develop their lives.  That learning that they received will go on to influence other people in their lives and help them to be the people they are.

This doesn’t mean that we are going to let life just go badly for them all the time and that we won’t put sensible measures in place to make life as comfortable as possible for them.  It just means that if something is happening that wasn’t part of the plan, then you just need to show them the value in it and how to gain an accurate view of the new unplanned situation by teaching them that their worth has not lessened because of this unexpected experience.  Instead, try to see how it has benefited yours and their life.

Attachment to labels

Very early on in childhood, we are often given labels or called names that we may consciously or unconsciously continue to hold onto.  Labels such as the good girl, the smart one, the responsible one, the popular one, the one that kept the family together, the attractive one, the skinny one or other certain characteristics that we learn to live up to.  All of these kinds of labels became how we define our worth, how we feel valuable to the world, so if something occurs in our lives where we are unable to live up to these labels, then we can begin to feel like we are less valuable, that is, worth-less. 

On the other end of the scale, however we can also be labelled as being the bad girl, the dumb one, the irresponsible one, the unpopular one, the troublemaker of the family, the ugly one, the fat one or many other names that you could have been given as a child.  We discussed how some of these names can affect how we view our lives in the first week of the program.

Now that you know a little bit more about how we attach self-worth to things, you can see that you have attached your self-worth to these things in the opposite way to attaching these good things to your worth.  If you had attached being the good girl to your self-worth then you are always seeking ways to live up to this label so that you feel worthy again.  If you were taught to believe that you were the bad one though, then you will be seeking ways to live up to that label too.  Not because it makes you feel better, but because that is all you believe your worth to be.  You only believe that you are a bad person, so you continue to find evidence of you being that kind of person.  Through this lens, you will never set your aims any higher, because this label is what you believe you deserve to be.  It’s all your brain knows.

Upgrade:  The reality is that you are neither a good person or a bad person, you are simply a person who has learnt to view life and respond to it according to the wiring in your brain which has come from all of your experiences to date. 

In order to stop attaching your worth to the labels that you have in your mind, you need to continue seeing why you are a valuable person right now!  How are you contributing and adding value to another person’s life right now?  What are the current roles you are playing right now – mother, wife, friend, daughter, worker etc  and how are these roles benefiting someone else’s life? How is your knowledge contributing to how their lives unfolds and the direction it takes?  How is your participation in that person’s life teaching them more about life?  Also, what are these roles teaching you about life that is beneficial?  How is this learning contributing to what you know about the events (parenting, breastfeeding, teaching a child to sleep, dealing with tantrums etc) and also about life (how to love yourself, how to think about the ups and downs of life, how to understand what’s going on with you or those around you).

Whatever person you think you have been taught to be, is not what defines your worth.  Just existing and doing what you know how to do defines your worth.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t still be the responsible person, or the organised one or the one that keeps the family together.  It just means that you are not completely defined by that label, so if life happens where you aren’t able to live up to that label then that’s okay too because you are still 100% worthy.

Attaching self-worth to how life unfolds, period

The core ingredient to living a happy life is to be able to find your worth in any event that occurs in your life.  Sometimes it seems as if everything is going wrong at once.  For example, you had a bad labour, couldn’t breastfeed, your child cries all the time, you’re getting no sleep, have very little support, your husband is detached and depressed himself, you don’t feel like you are bonding with your child and you feel like you have completely lost yourself in this new and overwhelmingly different stage of your life.

The reality is that it would be very difficult for anyone to feel happy when all of those things are going on in their life.  However, as we have discussed, having a happy life is not about the emotion of happiness.  It’s being able to have a healthy view of the ups and downs of life.  You aren’t always going to feel happy about some of the things that occur in your life and that doesn’t mean that your life is worth-less.

It simply means that there is a bump in the road.  All of these things happening at once is merely teaching you new skills about how to handle things.  It just means that there are many things that you need to learn all at once, or you need to prioritise what’s the most important thing to learn first and let the rest fall by the way side. 

What is going to stop this situation from ending in you feeling depressed or anxious, is to realise that there are many times in life where we are overwhelmed with challenges that seem to come one after the other.  These things are not due to your life being wrong or because of your shortcomings.  They are only due to the reality of life that these things happen.  Almost everyone in life has or will go through times of difficulty and most come out the other side with enormous lessons in life that go on to contribute to the lives of those around them who they speak to and interact with that are affected by those lessons, not to mention how it contributes to their lives as it continues to unfold.. 

Detach your self-worth from the events in your life, period.  Your worth is intrinsic.  It cannot be added to.  It cannot be taken away.  You are always giving a part of yourself to life.  You are doing it right now as you read this program.  You are contributing to this program’s success financially, which means it can afford to continue on and help thousands more people who are feeling exactly like you.  By learning what’s on this program and applying it to your life, you are learning a different way to think about life and will pass that learning onto your children.  As a result of learning this information you will respond differently with your husband, to your children, your parents, your friends and complete strangers in the street.  You may even go on to teach people from your experience of depression.

All of this came from you learning something new.

Let go of outcome and life having to be a certain way in order for you to be valuable, because ‘getting life right’ does not define self worth and it does not define a successful life.

If you were to look at the most traumatic experiences in people’s lives that resulted in them hitting rock bottom, whether it was from drugs, a tragic event, an event that nearly took their life, or because of severe depression, being suicidal, you would see that those that bounced back from that were stripped back to basics.  Those events forced them to peel back all of those layers of identity, the labels that they were conditioned to live up to, those attachments to things, social class and materialism and they were forced to become real and rediscover what life was really about and how worthy they really were.

You don’t have to reach rock bottom for you to get this learning and pick yourself back up.  If you are reading this and you already feel like you have reached rock bottom, then I’m giving you this lifeline right now.

You are valuable, right now!  You just have to search for why to confirm this new belief.  I know that your worth is 100% all the time, but you need to know it for yourself.  It is going to mean nothing for me to just say to you that you are always worthy because you are learning and contributing, because it’s just going to sound like a cliché that you hear all the time. 

You have to seek out why this statement is true.  Start with your past and look at what you have learnt from the good times and the bad.  Look at the many different roles that you’ve played throughout your life so far and how these roles have contributed to the lives of others and to your own life.  Look for the skills you’ve learnt, the life lessons you’ve taken, how you have grown etc.  All of your past experiences have got you to where you are now.   Now look at your current experiences.  These too shall flow on to contribute to how your life unfolds in the future.  This too shall teach you more about life.  This too shall flow on to how others’ lives unfold.

It’s not all bad.  It’s just that you have only been trained to see the bad.  Now you are training yourself to find the value and to acknowledge experientially that you are always worthy, just by being you.

Week Five / Day Five – Self-worth versus self-esteem. Why our moods fluctuate

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

Sometimes it may feel as if you are floating on cloud nine one day, feeling good about yourself, but then the next day it all seems to come crashing down on you in a heap and suddenly you feel like the most useless, incompetent person on the planet.  

Even when you can logically understand the concept of your worth always being 100% and know that regardless of how your life is unfolding you are always worthwhile, you can still have days where you feel bad about yourself or feel bad about what is going on in your life.  

The reason this happens, is not because of a drop in your self-worth.  It is because of your self-esteem.  It is common to use these two terms interchangeably, however they are both two very different words.  

Self-worth is what I am worth, which is 100%.  

Self-esteem is my rating of my worth.  This rating of what I am worth is learnt. It is learnt primarily through your experiences as a child and reinforced throughout your life by how you view your experiences. 

We are constantly rating our lives and ourselves based on the beliefs we hold.  We rate how our life is travelling, whether it is meeting our goals, if we are being a good mother, if we are being a bad mother, if we are happy, if we are unhappy, what we are doing, what others are doing and also when we are worthy and when we are not.  

When you are feeling bad it is because you have rated yourself as worth-less based on your perceptions of the situation (which comes from your beliefs), not because you are actually worth-less.  

Even now that you now know what truly defines self-worth and can logically grasp this concept, you will still have days where you experience highs and lows in how you feel about yourself and the situations that are happening in your life.  This is because you will constantly be rating your life in accordance with your beliefs.  Since there are millions of beliefs inside your mind that we aren’t even aware of, and they only arise as situations present themselves to us, we will always find limiting or incorrect beliefs about life that cause us to rate our life or ourselves as worth-less and consequently feel bad sometimes.

You won’t all of a sudden learn the reality of true self-worth and feel 100% worthy every second of your life, because you still have habitual beliefs rolling around in your mind that will come up and cause you to rate your experiences accordingly.  

This is why we need to keep applying this method over and over again, so that you do start to measure your worth in alignment with these new more accurate beliefs about self-worth that you have been learning.  While you will get better at doing this as you repeat this new line of thinking and it becomes more of a habit, there will still be times where you feel bad about something that has happened.  Know that this is not because you are worth any less, only because of how you rate what has happened. Continue to work on upgrading your thinking about this situation to change how you feel.

Here is a great quote that I heard from Kenny Rogers on the Oprah show the other day.  He said:  

“There are three versions of you. The one that others think you are. The one that you think you are and the real you.
The closer these versions are the happier you will be.”

Getting the version that you think you are and the version of the real you in alignment with each other as much as possible, is what we are trying to get you to do with this program, because essentially your self-esteem, meaning your rating of your self-worth is clouding you from understanding and feeling your true self-worth – which is always 100%.  

Incidentally when you get those two close together, you will also teach others to treat you differently too. But that’s for another lesson.

For now, here is another way to help you to understand the difference between self-worth versus self-esteem.  

Le’t say we pick someone in society that you may hold in high regard.  This could be someone that you have a lot of respect for.  In this example, we will use Mother Teresa.  

What did we like about mother Teresa that held her in high regard?  

We might say that she’s kind, generous, giving, is calm, self-less, helps people and is a beautiful person.  

Okay, how did she come to hold all these wonderful traits?  

As a child, she was heavily influenced by the church and a religious upbringing.  It is reported that she used to listen to stories about missionary life and service.  Apparently she could always pinpoint on a map where these missions were and what services were taking place there.  By the age of twelve she had already decided that she wanted to be a missionary and ‘spread the love of Christ’.  

By looking at her childhood you could easily determine that her childhood experiences influenced her view of life to the point where they ultimately caused her to seek out this path and do the things that she did.  

What was her intention for being the self-less, kind person that she was (the self-worth agenda)?  

There is always a personal payoff for everything that we do – an agenda that serves our best interests 100% of the time.  This agenda always has its roots in what it means about ourselves to behave this way.  Her behaviour had a self-worth aspect to it too.  I’m assuming (for the purposes of this example) that Mother Teresa believed that what she was doing was the way god wanted us to behave, which would make her worthy in God’s eyes (making her feel worthy because she rates him in high regard).   Being a messenger of god, made her a good, helpful citizen.

How do you know that living this way should be rated in high regard and that those qualities are what make up a ‘good person’?  

Because of your beliefs on how you were taught was the right way to live.  You rate her as worth more because of your beliefs. It’s easy to see how positively she contributes to society, so we believe that she should be held in high regard. 

However, it was not because she was worth more or worth less, it was merely because she had certain beliefs that dictated her behaviour and made her into the person she was, going about her business living life according to how she rated life based on her beliefs (formed primarily from childhood).  She did good things for others because she was taught in her childhood that this was what was beneficial to others and what would make a good (valuable) life to live. 

Furthermore, her agenda, was to live up to her rating of what constituted a worthy person in her eyes.  What made you rate her in high regard was due to your rating of what constitutes a worthy person.

With any action that is taken by ourselves or others there will always be a self-worth component to it.  If you are doing something kind for someone there will always be an agenda of yours that is all about self-esteem (your rating of worth).  You are doing it to feel good because you rate yourself as being worth more when you are doing those things.  

Similarly if you are doing something unkind, then the agenda will be about protecting or defending your self-worth, because you have rated the situation as being less than what it should be, or rated you as being worth-less and this is your attempt to make yourself feel worth more.  

Let’s explore this further by using the same example we used with Mother Teresa, only this time using someone that me might hold in low regard.  Let’s choose a bank robber for example:  

What might we dislike about this bank robber that holds this person in low regard?  

You may describe this person as selfish, disrespectful of other people’s property, a bad person, scumbag or low life.  

Okay, how did this person become this way?  

Well as a child, this person had experiences that taught him/her how to view life and what to believe about his/her self worth (that is to rate life and hold a certain level of self-esteem).  They learnt what they deserve to have in life, how to behave, who to respect and how to think about themselves and the world around them.  

Perhaps they had a tough upbringing surrounded by people who taught him/her to take what you can get no matter who it is from and who you hurt.  Keep in mind at this point, that I am not condoning this kind of behaviour, I am simply helping you to understand this kind of behaviour, so please bare with me as we continue.

What is this person’s intention for being this ‘selfish, disrespectful, bad person’?  (where is the self-worth aspect?)

What if I told you that this person robbed that bank so that they could feed their starving children because they were desparate and felt like this was the only way they could feed their children?  You may still rate that person as making a stupid decision, but the intensity of feeling towards this person may lessen and it may become easier to understand this person’s behaviour and for you to see the self-worth aspect to it.  Feeding your children is a top priority and if someone was desparate enough, then it could lead them down this path, so we can kind of understand their motives.

However, consider that perhaps this person robbed the bank to buy things that made themself feel better about life.  Buying TVs or having a nice car or house etc.  We may not be so understanding now would we?  What is happening here though, is still behaviour based on beliefs.  This person feels worth-less about themselves and in order to feel worth-more, this is what they believe is the best way to protect their worth.

Is it right?  No, not by moral standards, it’s not.  Should they do it?  No, I don’t believe that they should, however the reality is that it does happen and the reason why it happens is because of incorrect beliefs about self-worth and incorrect beliefs about life that are held in the first place.  If we can correct the beliefs, then we can correct the behaviour.

Again, there is always a personal payoff for everything that we do – an agenda that serves our best interests 100% of the time.  Under every bad behaviour, there is an issue with self-worth and an agenda to feel good (seek pleasure).  Whenever someone feels badly (rates themselves as worth-less) for long enough, they will naturally start to seek ways to correct that to feeling worth-more again.  Even though logically this person may know that robbing banks is not a moral thing to do, their rating of life and their view of life has somehow determined that this is the best way to behave in order to feel good about themselves again (feel worth more).  The priority belief to handle things in this way overrides the logic that robbing banks is against the law and causes them to do what they do, just like we eat chocolate overriding the logic to eat healthy in order to lose weight.  

Now most of us have the moral education from our own upbringings that keep morals and respect for the law top priorities over robbing banks, however not everyone has the knowledge and information that we do, so will behave differently.  It doesn’t make this behaviour okay, but it does illustrate that if you looked at the mindset behind the behaviour, it would make sense as to why people do the things that they do.

Finally, How do you know that living this way should be rated in low regard and that those characteristics are what make up a bad person?  

Because of what you believe about life and what makes for a good or bad person. You rate this person based on your beliefs about life.  As mentioned, you have views ingrained from your childhood about living in accordance with morals, respect for others and abiding by the law that cause you to rate this behaviour as being attributed to someone being worth-less.

You easily rate Mother Teresa as being worth more because you can see that she is abiding by the values (beliefs) that you hold and therefore align with the right way to live.  However you rate the bank robber as worth less because this person is not matching your beliefs on the right way to live.  This is what we are doing all the time, rating ourselves, other people and situations based on whether it matches or doesn’t match our ideals.

However, this bank robber is neither worth more or worth less, because everyone is 100% worthy.  This person is still contributing to society and still learning about life, it’s just a little more difficult to see how this person is still contributing to life because they are not aligning with your ‘right’ way to live.  However we have been learning throughout this whole program that all experiences hold some value and where there is bad, there is also good. 

This robber teaches us what not to do, and the consequences for behaving that way, which we see when they are caught.  We use people like that to teach our children a moral way to live, using this person as an example.  If we have been the victim in the robbery at the time, then this would have a significant effect on our own lives that could change what we do in our lives as a result and the subsequent experiences that one has after that event.  It changes the security of the bank and the measures they put in place to protect their staff in the future.  The ripple effect of this robber has its contribution to society too.

Once again, I am not condoning this behaviour.  Of course we would like to eliminate all criminal acts and live in a harmonious world.  The point I am illustrating is that this person behaves this way because of their low self-esteem, not because of their lack of worth.  They rate themselves as worth-less, but they are still 100% worthy.

This person was a baby once, just like Mother Teresa was.  Just like you and I were too. Something happened.  Something happened between then and now that moulded them to be the person they are today.  They were born 100% worthy because of their existence.  They still are 100% worthy because of their existence.  What changed is that they learnt to view the world in an incorrect way that causes them to behave the way that they do. 

When you can separate the human from the behaviour, regardless of whether we rate the behaviour as good or bad, you will see that we are all just behaving through the lenses of our beliefs and how we are all rating our lives and our self-worth.

This will continue to differ according to what beliefs about self-worth were set up in the first place.

Change the beliefs, and the person changes.  So does their behaviour.

Now put yourself into these same questions I asked of high regard low regard?  

What do you like about yourself that holds you in high regard, both as a person and as a mother?  

There will be times where you like yourself, or have liked yourself because of something that you have done.  What are they?  What qualities do you have (or did you have) that held you in high regard?   

Okay, now how did you come to hold these good traits?  

How did you come to be this person?  What has happened in your past that has caused you to learn to hold these traits and make them priority ways to behave?  What beliefs are behind these behaviours and who influenced those beliefs? Or what did you observe that taught you to hold these qualities? 

What is your intention for being this person/mother? (What is the self-worth aspect?)
 
Underlying these qualities will be your beliefs about how this will make you a good, moral, respectful, quality  person (essentially – rating yourself as worth more).  You will rate yourself in higher regard because of your beliefs and this behaviour will be serving your best interests 100% of the time.
 

How do you know that living this way should be rated in high regard and that those characteristics you mentioned are what make up a good person/mother?  

Where did you learn to rate these traits in high regard?  How do you know this to be true?  Again, the answer will be because of your beliefs.  

Now swap it over and answer those questions describing yourself in low regard:  

a)       What do you dislike about yourself that holds you in low regard, both as a person and as a mother?  

b)       How did you become like this?  
How did you come to be this person?  What has happened in your past that has caused you to learn to hold these traits and make them priority ways to behave?  What beliefs are behind these behaviours and who influenced those beliefs? Or what did you observe that taught you to hold these qualities? 

c)       What is your intention for being this person/mother? (What is the self-worth component?) 
What is causing you to behave this way?  How do you believe this behaviour protects your self-worth?  Identify the beliefs that cause you to behave this way.  What is your agenda for doing these things?

e)       How do you know that living this way should be rated in low regard and that those characteristics are what make up a bad person/mother?  
Where did you learn to rate these traits in low regard?  How do you know this to be true? 

When you complete this exercise putting yourself, or any other person into this exercise, you will see that it all comes down to how you rate life based on your beliefs, not because you are worth more or worth less.

Your worth hasn’t changed.  All that’s changed is how you have rated your life (or others) based on your self-esteem.  You have always been learning about life and contributing a part of yourself to the world in millions of different ways that most of the time you had no comprehension of.  However over the years you have learnt to believe that only when life is going right, can you be valuable, and it’s simply not true.  

We will always go through life rating our situations and ourselves based on our beliefs.  All we can do is be aware of those times when you are feeling bad about yourself (that is, rating yourself as worth-less) and look at what beliefs you hold that are causing you to feel this way.  How am I rating myself in this moment and how have I come to believe that this rating is even true?  What is my real self-worth (the upgrade)?  What am I learning in this moment and how am I contributing to life unfolding right now, because that is what defines your worth, not your beliefs that have been learnt from the minds of others that didn’t know any different.  

As human beings we are always on the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. If we have incorrect beliefs about our self-worth (which is essentially poor self-esteem – a rating of self) to begin with then we will continue to rate ourselves as being worth-less and feel pain or hurt.  

Consequently as a result of feeling that pain, we will put certain measures in place that will help us to feel worth-more.  We may seek approval to feel better about ourselves.  We may judge others, so that we feel worth more than them.  We may stop setting goals, so that we can avoid the pain of feeling like a failure (depression).  We may set lots of goals and try to control all aspects of our life so that it doesn’t go wrong and cause us pain (anxiety).  We may do good things for other people which makes us feel good about ourselves.  We will sometimes do things that logically we know we shouldn’t do, with the underlying intention of making us feel better and avoiding the pain of feeling worth-less.  

Under every human behaviour there is an incorrect perception of self-worth to be found which comes from our self-esteem (our rating of ourselves due to beliefs).

Your moods fluctuate because of how you are currently rating the situation and what you have rated this situation to mean about you.  It all comes down to beliefs.  This is why there is so much conflict in the world today.  Everybody has different beliefs that cause them to rate things as being either good or bad.  This is reality, however we continue to fight over this reality in order to be right (worth more) and make the other person wrong (worth less than me).

If we could learn to search for the incorrect self-worth beliefs behind human behaviour and work more on helping people to correct them to be more in alignment with the reality of true self-worth, then there would be more compassion and education, rather than hatred and judgement.  If we could just see that everything has value and understand that we are all inherently valuable to one another because we all have something to learn off one another and no one is better or worse than another, than the world would be a much kinder, happier place.

Reminding yourself of how you are contributing, and what you are learning from the events in your life will remind you that you are always 100% worthy, and so is everyone around you because we are always giving each other life experiences that create each of our unique stories of life. 

Week Five / Day Six – A recap of the Reality Step & How to use it

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson (50min duration)

NB – This lesson is a lot longer than 15-20 minutes to allow for many situations to be discussed. 

As this week comes to a close, I want to take some time to look at the four components of this reality thinking model and show you how you can use it in step two of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process – Reality.

The four components are; the reality of the situation, the reality of parenting, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth.

Each component takes your attention from the small picture and expands it out further to look at the bigger picture.  This stops you from being consumed by the events that are happening right now and helps you to view this situation in a more detached, widened back way that is in alignment with reality.

Each component looks at the situation in the wider context of what it means about your life, instead of just being stuck in the thoughts you are having that are in conflict with reality.

Following are some examples of how to use this reality step.  This lesson will be slightly longer than the usual 15-20 minutes, so if you only have that long, just scroll down and read the examples that relate to your life. However it would be very beneficial for you to read all of the examples if you have time, so that you can see the many different ways that this reality step can be applied. This will help you to be able to apply it in your life.

As you know, after step two on the TRACK process, we move into a more solution focussed way of looking at the situation because even though you are aligned with the reality of the situation and change your perspective of it to a healthier one, it doesn’t mean that you won’t want to change the situation or do something about.  So you do this in Step 3 – 5 of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process – Aim, Choices and Know your plan.  In preparation for these steps, at the end of each example below, I have listed some potential solutions to these problems that we can explore in later lessons when we come to the full explanations of the final three steps to the Mind TRACK to Happiness process.

Example One – I regret having children

Here are some thoughts that may be identified in step one – thoughts:
“I never wanted to have children.  I was pushed into it by my husband and I knew that I wasn’t cut out for motherhood.  I was happy with my career and living that life but now I’m stuck at home with these kids and I hate my life.”

The reality of the situation: For whatever reasons you had at the time, you decided to have children and now you do.  Being in conflict with the reality that you never wanted to have children and now you do and don’t like it keeps you stuck in denial about what is actually here right now.  When you were having the discussions about having kids with your partner, something swayed your mind to conceive that child, keep the child and continue with the pregnancy.  Blaming your partner is in conflict with the reality that you took part in the decision to have children and because of the information you had at that time, you now have children. The past cannot be changed and the present reality is always a result of past decisions.  Right now, you have children and are presently the one who is at home with them (which incidentally is also something that would have been discussed with your partner and both of you came to this decision that you would be the one stay at home, rather than go back to work or have him stay at home.)

The reality of parenting:  Life changes dramatically when you become a parent.  It is not better or worse than your pre-child life, just different.  As with anything in life there are its highs and lows.  I’m sure your career was not full of just great times, but also of stressful days and challenging moments, just like in parenting.  If you concentrate on what is bad about parenting you will only see what is bad about parenting.  Being at home with the kids can be monotonous, but it can also be very rewarding, it all depends on how you look at it. There are many pluses about being a stay at home mum that you may not be seeing because you are only seeing what is bad about it.  You have more time to go outside and enjoy the day, you can study at home and increase your knowledge for when you do go back to work.  There are always moments throughout the day where you get to squeeze in moments to yourself, like painting your fingernails, cooking your favourite meal, painting or drawing if you are into creativity, catching up with other friends who are at home with their kids, watching your favourite TV shows during the day that you taped the night before.  You could even work a little bit from home.  Sure there are lots of things you need to do with the kids and there can be days where you get none of this done, but there are many days where you can fit these things into the day looking after the kids, while they’re occupied or asleep.  Your career, while rewarding and fun, is not the only experience that can provide you with pleasure, being a stay at home mum can too.  It all depends on how you look at it.

Reality of Life:  There are moments throughout our entire life when we feel excited, enthusiastic and energised about the projects we undertake and there are times where we don’t feel that way.  It doesn’t mean life is bad, it’s simply a reality of life.  Sometimes events happen in our lives that force us to slow down, take a break or reflect on what we want for our lives, or how we can factor new situations into our dreams and goals.  The challenges in our lives that seem to stop us from reaching our goals, are only lessons that we need to learn along our journey to our goal.  The trick is to not see this event as the only thing that is happening in your life and to see what else is happening in your life that is going well – your relationship with your partner, your health, you family relationships, new friendships, being financially comfortable, being able to pay your bills.  What can you be grateful for?  Remember the gratitude lesson?  Try that.  Life in general is full of ups and downs and this time of your life right now is just a small part of your whole journey through life.

Reality of self-worth:  It is quite possible that you have defined your self-worth by what you were doing at work and now you are feeling like your life lacks purpose or is not as ‘good’ as it used to be when you worked.  What exactly was it about your job that made you feel so special.  Recognise that those things that you used to do at work formed part of that experience and did contribute to your work environment and the people in it.  However, right now what you are doing is contributing as well, except in a different way.  You are contributing to your family, to the future adult your child will become.  You are contributing to the functioning of your home, your family, your partner, the friends you meet and contributing to how you now interact and what you are now doing in the world around.  Try to find what is beneficial about that and how it would be very different if you were not around.  Recognise that it is your beliefs that are rating this situation as good or bad, and not because your life’s worth has lessened any.  Constantly keep expanding this view of your life to be in alignment with the reality of the situation, the reality of parenting, the reality of life and the reality of your self-worth, by remembering the ups and downs of life, that every event is one to learn from and that each event leads to the next one.  Perhaps the events that you are experiencing right now are exactly what you need to have happen in your life to propel you to the next great thing in your life.  Where is the silver lining in this situation?

Potential solutions:  Just because you are aligned with the reality of the situation and are able to see it with a different, more expanded mindset, this doesn’t mean that you need to just ‘suck it up’ and do nothing about it.  The reality is that there are things in motherhood that are laborious and monotonous at times and for many mums it isn’t stimulating enough to just be that stay at home mum.  It doesn’t mean that your worth is any less, it just means that you would like other things in your life to enjoy other than just doing all those motherly tasks.  So looking at the potential solutions is what you would do in step 3 – aim – what do I want?  Here are a few potential solutions to explore in this scenario:

  • Working part-time from home
  • Studying something new or interesting that may advance your career, or start a new one
  • Start a new and interesting hobby
  • Make sure you schedule some time in for you to do the things that you feel are fun.
  • Squeeze little things into your day that are just for you (painting nails, styling your hair, reading a book, watching your favourite TV show, go buy yourself a new outfit – even if you do have your children in tow)
  • Perhaps going back to work either full time or part-time might be the answer in this situation.  This will be something that you would discuss based on your beliefs and what is right for your family.  Next week you will learn about what drives the choices we make and the actions we take.

 

Example Two – Other mums are doing it better than me. Everything I do seems wrong.

Here are the thoughts that may be identified in step one – thoughts:
“I’m just not good at being a mother.  I’m impatient.  I get angry all of the time.  I’m completely unorganised.  I look at other mums and they just seem to be handling everything so much better than me.  I have struggled to breastfeed. I have struggled to get my baby into a sleep routine.  My toddler is having tantrums left, right and centre and is constantly pushing the boundaries.  I just can’t handle it anymore.  Everything I do seems to be wrong.”

The reality of the situation You are experiencing what every mother experiences and that is the fluctuating behaviour of a developing child.  This is a new role and a big transition and you are living it for the first time.  Some people may experience this transition easier than others, but that doesn’t mean that you are doing it wrong.  You are learning how to be a parent and deal with all the different situations that come with it.  The reality is that right now the challenge is breastfeeding and sleep routines with one child and tantrums with the other, because this is where they are at in their development.  Any thoughts that continue on with how it shouldn’t be like this and that you are doing it wrong are all in conflict with the reality that this is the situation that is currently playing out, is normal behaviour for children, not a reflection of you doing anything right or wrong.

The reality of parenting:  Babies cry.  Some babies have trouble breastfeeding. Some mothers have trouble breastfeeding or producing milk.  Some babies self-settle quicker than others.  Toddlers tantrum and learn how to behave and respond to their environments.  This is how they learn.  This is the reality of being a parent.  You are angry and impatient because your mind gets stuck with believing that it ‘should’ be another way, however the reality is that it isn’t another way because this is the development that naturally occurs in a child to one degree or another.  As a parent you are resourcing different ways to handle these situations by learning about them from other sources. It is not wrong that you are experiencing these things, it is the reality of parenting and every parent experiences the challenging behaviours of their growing and developing children. It is only because you are perceiving this to mean something about you and your life that is causing you to feel stress.

The reality of life:  Life is about the ups and downs and parenting is no different.  This situation is just a part of your whole life. That behaviour is just part of the love, joy and rewarding times that you get too.  It may be that at this point in your life the love, joy and rewarding times are few and far between, but this is only for a small amount of time.  Everything rises and passes away and these full-on times are no different.  It’s important to keep that perspective when going through these times where you are in demand because they are not the only part of your life.  What else is happening in your life that is going well?  Relationships, friendships, work, health etc – how are all they going?  Keep looking at the whole picture of your life, not just this consuming moment.  There are always good things going on too, we just need to look for them.  Start looking for what you have and what you are receiving right now that is valuable.  Also look for the hidden good in the bad.  What value does this situation have?  Your child not sleeping is them learning how to sleep.  You using different sleep techniques, is you finding the right sleep techniques for your child.  Each time you administer the consequences for a tantrum this is you teaching your child not to tantrum.  Each time you repeat yourself you are one step closer to reinforcing new behaviour as a habit in your child’s mind.  One day they’ll just stop doing it, or they will become few and far between with age.  This is only one small drop in the ocean of your life and this moment will lead to another moment in your life.  There are highs and lows throughout it.  This is just a low, but with every bad, there is also an equal amount of good.  Don’t give this situation the power to be all bad, for you are neglecting how it is valuable to you and your child’s life.

The reality of self-worth:  This is not a defining moment in your life.  The reality is that they are developing and growing and behaving in natural ways to facilitate their growth.  This has nothing to do with your worth as a ‘good mother’ or your quality of life.  Your self-worth is always 100%.  You are contributing to your child learning how to get past these moments.  Without you, they don’t learn how to self-settle or to know the signs of going to sleep.  You are putting  them to bed, persisting with their sleep, you are teaching your toddler what the consequences of their actions are.  Your anger is teaching you that you need to find a better way of looking at things, which influences your life and also your child’s with this learning.  Throughout life you are always learning new things and being a parent is teaching your things like organisation, how to be a parent and handle all the different behaviours that occur in parenting.  All of these things that you are learning as a parent will stay with you and contribute to the rest of your life and how it unfolds. 

Other mums may seem to have it all under control and be handling parenting easily, but they have other challenges to overcome. We all do, because we are all constantly learning new things in our lives and contributing our knowledge to those around us.  Here is what I wrote on Facebook just today:

Everyone has their lessons to learn. Everyone! Sometimes things come easy in one area of your life but not in others. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself negatively to someone else, stop and look at what you are better than them at or what you have that they don’t and you’ll see that each of us have different skills, abilities and ‘issues’ to overcome and no one is better than another.

You are not doing anything wrong, you are simply experiencing an event that is teaching you how to do something and you are getting a life lesson in how to do it.  You are learning how to find patience and be calm and part of you doing that is getting angry and impatient.  If you weren’t angry and impatient sometimes than you would not be propelled to do things differently and hence learn new things.

Throughout our lives we are always coming across challenges that force us into change, learning and growth.  Parenting is one of those times. Challenges don’t make you worth-less they help define your life because you learn, change, grow and contribute your knowledge to the world around you.  It is only your rating of the situation that makes you feel worth –less than other people, other mums and all you need to do is keep changing your ‘story’ to align with the reality of the situation, parenting, life and your self-worth, remembering that no matter how life unfolds you are always worthwhile.

Potential solutions: 

  • Learn about the current developmental stage your child is at and then resource how you can get that information
  • Be around people who encourage you and give you helpful advice for dealing with these challenges
  • Speak to other mums who have children at similar ages and deliberately seek out tips that they use to help them deal with this challenge and feel good about themselves.
  • Learn from the minds of other calm, happy mums.  What are their secrets?  How do they think about these challenges?  Don’t feel like you are doing something wrong.  If you don’t know how to do something, seek out someone who does know how to do it and learn off them.  Don’t feel less than them, feel blessed that they are in your life so you can learn what they have already learnt.  This is what we are all here for, to learn and grow from each other.

 

Example Three – I have bad thoughts about hurting my children, or hurting myself

Here are the thoughts that may be identified in step one – thoughts:
 “I hate these thoughts that I get where I am thinking about hurting my children or myself.  I know that I don’t want to hurt them, but I can’t help it when my brain starts imagining these things.  It happens when I hear them screaming or crying endlessly and I can’t get them to stop.  All I want them to do is stop.  I want to enjoy motherhood and love my kids, but they won’t stop crying or playing up.  I just want my old life back where I could handle things better.”

The reality of the situation: Your brain has been viewing situations through a lens that has been seeing life in a painful way.  You are seeing the events that occur in your life as a hugely unvaluable experience that causes you some pretty intense emotions.  Whenever we go through intense emotional pain the brain searches for ways to correct the situation and avoid the pain from occurring anymore.  This is what is happening when you imagine these things.  

If you were in a life or death situation where you were stuck in a well and needed to get out, your brain would look at all the different ways to get out of that situation.  You could climb, you could yell out, you could sit and wait for someone to save you.  Once you have tried all these things, you may start to get desperate and if it has been a while, you are hungry, thirsty and feel like you are getting to a really bad place, you may start to contemplate thoughts of ending your life, because the pain of being stuck in that situation is so much more painful than ending it all. 

This is exactly what has happened in the situation with your kids.  You have been in a situation that was challenging and you began by trying lots of different things to get you past that challenging situation, but none of it has worked.  You have continued seeing this situation as painful and now because you are getting desperate and the pain seems to be getting worse, you start to contemplate more extreme thoughts of getting out of this painful situation, as it is a basic human instinct to avoid and stop pain.  So your mind begins engaging in all the different ways to end the pain, this time in more extreme ways.   This is where you have currently come to the point you have of imagining all of these scenarios.  However it is not the event that is causing you pain, it is the way you have been thinking about this event and that is what needs addressing.  That is the way to stop these thoughts from entering into your mind all the time.

The reality of parenting:  Perhaps what has caused you that pain and emotion to begin with, before it got to this point, is that you have been seeing the challenges of parenting as wrong or you are being consumed by the everyday challenges that arise in this new role of being a mum.  The reality of parenting is realising that there are both ups and downs that occur, just like anything else in life.  You are seeing just the bad side to things at the moment, so you must balance that out by also acknowledging the good stuff too.  This includes what is going well in your role and what is running smoothly.  Perhaps you get the washing done some days.  Perhaps you go through a shopping experience without a tantrum.  Perhaps you get your child to sleep one more hour, or get them to go longer between feeds.  What is going well.  Once you send your attention in the direction of looking at what is going well, you will stop being consumed so much by what isn’t going well.  Also, look at the value of these challenges.  What are they teaching you?  What is your child learning?  Are these challenges just part of your child’s developmental stage?  Are you learning more about parenting and how to handle each developmental challenge?  Is you present challenge just an indication that you need to seek out information to help you learn what to do?  Remember that being a parent is like having a job.  You learn new skills, come across challenges, work your way to being more experienced at your job and talk to others with experience so they can help you to learn how to reach the next competency.  You will never get parenting ‘right’ as there is always something to learn and decisions to be made that you will have to weight up according to your beliefs.

The reality of life:  Throughout your life there have been some great times and some not so great times.  Who was it that said that parenting was any different?  If you are going through a particularly challenging time with your child, then this is just part of the realities of life.  What do we do when we have challenges?  We find ways to work around them.  We seek out answers.  Seeking out these answers gives us information that we learn from and implement into our lives.  This information then goes on to help us for the rest of our lives.  We will always have this experience to draw knowledge from when needed.   We set goals all of the time.  We set goals to get out of bed, get ready for the day, get our kids ready, get out the door on time, buy a house, go on holidays.  Whether they are small or large goals we are always striving for something.  What do we do when we reach those goals?  We spend brief amounts of time enjoying them before we set another goal and off we go again.  What do we set goals for?  To achieve them of course, however the value does not come from setting goals and achieving them.  It comes from the experiences you had and what you learnt on the way to achieving them.  You learn on the way to the goal, when you got to your goal and when you didn’t get to your goal.  Just setting the goal sets life in motion and that is the purpose to living.  Living, learning and growing.  That is the reality of life.  This moment is part of that journey of setting and getting goals.  Whenever you are having challenges, this is part of you getting to the goal. 

Start questioning what you are saying about the current situation and challenge your thinking. Where did you come to believe that what you are saying is true?  Who taught you that it is right?  Who taught you that what is happening is wrong?  In life every event leads to the next one and each event plays a crucial role to how the future unfolds.  We can never dictate whether this challenging situation isn’t just going to turn out for the best.  We can never dictate whether this fantastic event is going to turn out unenjoyable.  We cannot control how life unfolds.  It is just one event leading to the next, all the while, we are learning, growing and having the experience of life.

The reality of self-worth:  You are feeling this way because you have rated the situation as being detrimental to your quality of life, or your self-worth – perhaps both.  From your conditioning over the years you have learnt to rate yourself according to your achievements (getting life right), your identity and the outcome of your life.  When life is going to plan you feel ‘good’ (worth more) and when life isn’t going to plan you feel ‘bad’ (worth-less).  However this is merely your self-esteem fluctuating from your view of life.  Your worth as a person never changes.  You are always 100% worthy because of your existence.  How are you contributing in your life right now?  How is your current life adding value to your existence because of what it is teaching you either about the event or about life in general?  How are you of value to someone else’s life?  How would different aspects function if you were not in it helping it to function?  What are you teaching people that makes a difference in their lives, just because you are there giving a part of yourself?  All of these things define your 100% worth in this world, not whether you achieve something, get it right, or get life to go to plan. 

Potential solutions: 

  • Keep working on changing your thinking about the different challenges that come up. 
  • Do the exercises at the end of this week and be consistent about using the journaling specifically
  • Give yourself plenty of time out where you can.
  • If time out is not a luxury because of lack of support, make it a priority to seek out support in communities, friends, families etc.
  • When you cannot have time out and you are feeling frustrated, add things into your day just for you.  Paint your nails, put your ‘happy’ music on, dance around and be silly (the kids will love it), go outside for a walk, exercise to increase your endorphins etc.
  • Do something instead of nothing.  You now know that it is your thinking that leads you down this path. Don’t let it.  Let your feelings be your guide that shows you where your mind is at and as soon as you find yourself down there, do something that will lift your mood. 

 

Example Four – I am a single mother

Here are the thoughts that may be identified in step one – thoughts:
“This was not the way I’d imagined motherhood to be.  I thought that I would have a proper family with mum, dad and the kids.  I didn’t think that I would be doing it all alone.  It is so hard.  The kids just rely on me all the time and I hardly ever get any time to myself.  I don’t have much support so everything is up to me.  I have to support them by working, then I have to come home, try to give them the quality attention they need, cook dinner, clean up, do the washing and keep everything going. Where is the me time?  I just can’t keep up with it all and I just want it to be different.  I don’t want to be a single mother.”

The reality of the situation:  You are the sole provider for your child.  Due to everything that has unfolded in the past you are now in this present time reality that you are a single mother.  You are having the experience of a single mother’s life.  This is the reality and any conversations that are in conflict with that, will only cause you stress.  It doesn’t matter if you didn’t want it, hadn’t planned it and that it wasn’t the way things were ‘supposed’ to go, it is here now.  You have now entered a new phase of your life where support doesn’t just come easy and perhaps you need to seek it out and set it up.  Perhaps you have to ask for help instead of waiting for it to be offered.  Perhaps you need to seek out professional services in order to get this help.  With this current situation, there may be a period of time where you have limited ‘me’ time.  But it is only for a small amount of time when compared to the rest of your life.  It won’t be forever.

The reality of being a parent:  Think of this as your new job.  If you were at work, you could think of yourself as a single worker, doing what you need to do to get the tasks that you are responsible for done in the best, most efficient way possible.  If you needed support in your job, you would seek out your boss and ask for it, you wouldn’t just sit there and stress that you couldn’t do it (or perhaps this pattern does play out here too).  You could ask your boss for support or set up other means for getting help with your work challenge.  In work, you experience days that are stressful and other days that are quite relaxing.  Parenting is no different.  It all depends on how you look at it.  There are always ups and downs with any situation in life and in parenting there is too.  With all the bad, stressful times, there also comes rewards in the way of precious cuddles, smiles, longer sleeps, feeling organised one day, focussed and motivated the next.  You have days where your kids are no longer in their old, annoying developmental stage that they perhaps were last week.  You have days where you get to do more for yourself than you did yesterday.  Remember to search for these times and be grateful for them.  It’s not all bad. 

The reality of life:  Ups and downs, learning and receiving, good and bad, but all the while there is always personal growth.  Your kids’ lives are not worth-less because they don’t have dad around.  They are getting the experience that they need on their journeys that are going to be full of ups and downs too.  They are getting the relationship that they are getting from their dad, regardless of whether he is around or not.  That is their experience of their other parent.  You have learnt a lot about relationships. What you will do next time, what you wouldn’t do.  You have had the experience of this other person who has been in your life and shared a part of him and has now moved on.  As a result of this, you will also move on and have new experiences that will add to your journey through life. Every event contributes to the next.  They link to form your entire journey through life and this event of being a single mother is just one event of many in your life’s journey.  When you look back on your life in 50 years time and are on your deathbed, you will see this time of your life as just another memory in the chain of events that lead to you being where you are.  These moments will pass and as they pass they will lead a trail of memories, experience and learning for both you and your children.

The reality of self-worth:  Perhaps you had your self-worth attached to that ideal of the perfect family. That is, only when I can have this perfect family in my life can my life be successful.  Perhaps you had your self-worth attached to the way your children were going to be parented – two parents, plenty of time for each child, you being calm and organised and being able to juggle everything successfully in order to be the ‘good mum’.  What you need to realise that all of these factors listed here are your beliefs about how life ‘should’ be and sometimes we can’t always get life to go to plan.  This doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ mum, nor does it make you incompetent, useless or your life any less (nor your child’s life).  Your worth comes from your existence and the learning and contributions that come from your existence.  Your children are learning from you what it takes to be a single parent. They are learning from you how to handle your everyday challenges, just like they would if you were not single.  They are observing how to ‘do’ life from you because that is how children learn.  You don’t need to be in a ‘couple’ relationship in order to give them the learning they need.  They will get it off you anyway.  They are always getting what they need in order to develop because the reality is that whatever is playing out in theirs or your life is the reality of what is playing out and we only ever have right now to learn off. You can’t change the past so they will get what they need to learn off the situation and it will be valuable to their development, because it is here now and they are already doing it. 

Your worth as a mum or as a person has not changed just because you are now a single mum.  You are simply on a different path to what you expected.  Not worse, not better, just different.  Whether you are in a couple or single you are always getting something out of life that contributes to your journey, always!  Each experience provides us with different teachings that we then carry through our lives and contribute to others.  It all links in perfectly.  Why is it happening perfectly?  Because it’s happening, and you cannot change the reality of the now, only how you think about it.  Your worth is always 100% because you are alive and giving a part of yourself to the world.  So are your children.

Potential solutions:

  • Seek out books or resources that help you to teach your children an accurate understanding of the break up so that they won’t attach their self-worth to the changed situation.
  • Set up a support network for yourself
  • Brainstorm all of the different ways that you can make things easier – routines, schedules, outsourcing tasks, organising things, minimising unnecessary tasks.
  • Seek out other single mums who seem to be happy and coping well with this new change and find out what they’re doing that you can learn from. 

 

Example Five – I’m home all day with my children every day.

Here are the thoughts that may be identified in step one – thoughts:
Every day is always the same.  Wake up at 5am because that’s when my eldest wakes up and I can’t get her to go back to sleep.  Then I get breakfast, do the dishes, clean up the house, play the same boring games with the kids, change nappies, deal with fighting and tantrums, prepare lunch, clean up again, cook dinner, watch Oprah, do the shopping.  It’s just the same thing, day in and day out.  I’m bored, lonely and totally unstimulated.  This is so different to my old life before kids and I just don’t know how long I can handle this for.”

The reality of the situation:  This situation describes where I was at when my children were young and I would continually resent all of the work that I had to do (and how early I needed to start doing it).  But the reality is that it is what it is.  Being a stay at home mum requires you to do lots of little things around the home and sometimes they can get monotonous.  The reality is that these things need to be done and because of decisions that were made in the past you and your partner decided that you were going to be the one to stay home and be the major carer for your children.  You made this decision in the past and this current reality is a result of that decision.  You may wish to explore some other options in later steps to change this decision, but right now you must first accept the reality of the situation by accepting that this current reality is a result of everything unfolding in the past. You are the home carer that looks after the kids and does most of the housework and part of that role is dealing with all of those things that you are talking about. That’s just part of the role.

The reality of being a parent:  It is normal for a mum, during the early stages of their child’s life, to have to manage on small amounts of sleep and deal with developmental challenges.  This is not right or wrong.  This is reality.  Your children are simply developing and learning how to exist in the world and you are teaching them how to do this on a daily basis.  Yes, continually dealing with this behaviour is exhausting at times, but this is just one aspect of the whole parenting experience.  If you focus on just this part of it, you will be frustrated as you will start to believe that all you are doing all day is dealing with this behaviour.  However if you start consciously noting all of the good times too (the morning cuddles, what is going your way, those little moments you sneak in just for yourself, etc) then you widen back to see the bigger picture, rather than just being sucked into those moments meaning that this is it for you.  The reality of being a parent, especially a stay at home one, is that there are repetitive tasks that need to be done, however that is not all you do.  Mix it up a little by adding other things into your life and also consciously note all of the other things that you do that aren’t mundane.  The reality is that this is different to your life before children.  Not better, or worse, just different.  You need to let go of the way it used to be and accept the way that it is now and work out what you need to do to improve right now.  In step 3 – aim, you would look at ways that you can add some stimulation into it.  It’s too easy to get sucked into the monotony of being a parent and all those repetitive tasks that you need to do, but that is not the be all and end all of your life.  There are other things going on in your life too, you just need to acknowledge them and expand your mindset to look at the bigger picture because if your attention is stuck in what you don’t want to do, you will never notice the other things that you do enjoy about being a stay at home mum.   If you don’t have a lot that you do enjoy, then start putting things into your life that you do enjoy.

The reality of life:  You are having an experience in life right now.  You are experiencing motherhood and all that it entails.  Sometimes the experiences we have on our journeys are exciting and sometimes they are not.  Why is it that we feel like we need to be stimulated every moment of our lives?  Who taught you that value only came from liking what you do?  Is this a time in your life to relish not having to be anywhere and be striving and challenging yourself in the ways that you used to?  Being a stay at home mum can be a time for you to stop and reflect on what you want for your life, what you have been doing, redesign who you are and enjoy the times with your kids where you are not in the demand of other people dictating what you need to do (your boss for example). 

This period of your life is just that, a period in your life.  It is not the only part of your life.  Force yourself to look at this situation in the context of the other things going on in your life too.  You may be also experiencing a happy marriage, a supportive husband, lots of friends, a thriving business, a healthy body, financial comfort, a nice house to live in, or many other things that is going well in your life.   Instead of being stuck in the mindset of being bored, lonely and unstimulated, send your attention out looking for what you are grateful for in your life.  Look for the hidden good in this situation. What do you like about being a stay at home mum?  Where there is bad, there is also good, but if you habitually look for only the bad, then you will be consumed by that bad and think that this is all there is in your life.  However if you deliberately start looking for the good parts too, all of a sudden you have widened back your perspective and are seeing the whole picture.  There are always benefits in any situation and when you start looking at what you or your child are learning and what this situation is giving you and your child then you will stop seeing it as bad and uneventful.

The reality of self-worth:  Ultimately you are feeling this way because you believe to some degree, that being a stay at home mum and doing everything that is required, makes your life worth-less – that it devalues your quality of life in some way. While repetitive and monotonous tasks can be tedious, you must expand your mind to look at what it is giving your life too.  You are receiving the experience of being a mum to another human being. You are getting unconditional love from your child.  You can learn how to live simply from your child. Watch them and see how they live in the now and learn from that. They are not weighed down with baggage and ‘shoulds’ and ‘coulds’ in their life.  It’s all about the now.  We can learn volumes from that.  Look at what you are contributing to the world by being a mum.  You are moulding a future adult right now.  You are creating our future generation.  Each tantrum they have is you teaching them how to behave appropriately in the world.

Personally, you are learning new things too that will add value to your life. When you become a parent you often begin looking at the world a little bit differently.  You may be more compassionate to other mums raising their children, you may be more tolerant of kids because you understand what they are going through.  You are learning organisational skills (even if you are not very good at being organised, that is part of you learning how to be organised).   You are learning a lot about yourself.  Especially if you do postnatal depression, you are learning in this program so much about how you think, how you can change and what your true value is. Without this experience of PND, you wouldn’t  be getting this valuable learning for your life. 

Everything that you are learning and experiencing right now is going to be added to your journey through life and influence and affect how you contribute to those around you. It ripples out like a drop in the ocean and affects everyone around you, influencing their lives and contributing to how their lives unfold.  You are valuable as a stay at home mum and there are many reasons why you are valuable.  Look for what you are learning that is contributing to your life.  Look for how you are contributing to the lives of your kids, your family, your partner, your friends, strangers etc and look for how different life would be, not better or worse, just different if you were not giving a part of yourself to it.  Households would fall apart, you children wouldn’t get a mother, or the love you give them, they wouldn’t learn what you have to teach them, your husband wouldn’t have someone by his side, washing wouldn’t get done, healthy meals wouldn’t be healing bodies and keeping them growing and strong, your house would be unhygienic and make your family sick, bills wouldn’t get paid and you would have no electricity and gas.

Understand that you are playing an important role in the functioning of your family and this is teaching you some valuable lessons about life that is contributing to your life, but is also contributing to how your children’s lives unfold and other people in your life.

You are always 100% worthy because of your existence and what you give to the world, regardless of what you are doing and how you are doing it!

Potential solutions:  Even though you can change your perspective on the situation you still might want to do something about not being stimulated, being alone and being bored.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Set up a support network so that you can do more things for yourself that you find enjoyable.
  • Take up a part-time study course in something that you’ve always wanted to learn.
  • Create a schedule that fits little things into it that are just for you.
  • During the day do things that remind you that there is more to you than being a housewife and mum, like playing your music, dressing up in nice clothes for the day instead of your daggy ones, put some make up on, style your hair, paint your fingernails, go to the shops (even if it is with the kids), put the kids in the pram and go for a walk somewhere with nice scenery, catch up with friends that also have kids.
  • Perhaps you need to look at childcare options or occasional care to give you more of a break.
  • Organise a babysitter to spend some time with just you and your husband.

In all of these examples, there is so many more ways that you could look at these situations and apply the reality thinking model that will help you to change the way you feel about the situation.  Some of these examples will resonate with you and some will not and it is difficult to be able to use examples that will apply to everyone’s situation.  This is why the Q&A Forum was created – to give you the support you may need to apply this process to your life.  If you have read this week’s lesson and still don’t know how to apply the reality thinking model to your situation, why not head on over there and write me your questions.  This will not only help you to get an understanding of how to shift and expand your mindset from being consumed by the problem to having a healthy realistic view, but it will also help others who also may be struggling with a situation similar to yours.

Remember that this step is only the second step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process. You can be aligned with the reality of the situation, parenting, life and self-worth, but this process doesn’t just end there. While you do need to accept reality, you aren’t stuck with it forever.  The next 3 steps are about setting goals and changing this current situation to help you to be more solution focussed about it.

The whole point of the reality thinking model and the reality step in the Mind TRACK to Happiness process is to shift your attention away from just thinking about the problem, what you don’t like and how it is effecting your life and to expand your attention towards looking at the whole picture.

This experience is just part of the whole and there are so many aspects to it that we can look at.  Practice challenging and questioning how you are looking at a situation and force yourself to begin seeing the hidden good in the bad, what you are grateful for, what you are receiving from the experience and how this experience is of value to your life because every experience is linked together to form your life, your journey and your unique story.

How you tell that story is up to you.  Because it all depends on how you look at it.

Week Five / Day Seven – Exercise Day! Applying the First two steps of the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process

NB – There is no audio available for this exercise 

 

This past week you have been learning about your self-worth and why you are always valuable and worthy just the way that you are.  In this week’s exercise you are going to do two things.  First you are going to upgrade all of your self-critical thinking and second, you are going to learn how to do journal writing. 

Part A – Upgrading your self-criticisms

It’s time to stop that self-degrading, critical conversation that continues to go on in your head and upgrade it with your new knowledge of self-worth and reality.  Remember that these criticisms that occur are only your rating of the event based on your habitual beliefs. These beliefs are what you are working on changing with repetition, continuously feeding your mind new information so that the new thinking becomes the new habit and the old, painful thinking becomes a goat track and eventually dies off. 

As usual, this will only happen when you practice what you are reading by doing these exercises and by being as aware as you can about your thinking, and replacing it. 

So in part A, you will start by upgrading the self-criticisms you found in Week Two’s exercise where you were identifying the thoughts that were causing your stress. 

Instructions: 

In your notebook, create a new ‘story’ about yourself upgrading the self-criticisms you picked up on in Week Two.  Write down why these criticisms are untrue and why you are always 100% worthy.  Make sure you don’t just generalise why you are worthy (example – because I exist, because I am always learning, because I am always contributing).  Make sure you state what you are learning (about the event, or about life) and what you are contributing to the circle of life.  State how what you are learning is contributing to your life, your partner’s life, your child’s life and your friends and family and those around you and their lives.  Take some time to really challenge your mind to find all the different ways that you are contributing to the world, just by being who you are. 

  

Part Two – Journaling

Journaling is a really important part of being able to change how you think.  Sometimes we can get really caught up in our ‘story’ of why we are feeling the way that we do and although you have some awareness already of how to change this thinking, sometimes things can be quite emotional.  It can be difficult to be objective about the event in that moment and sort out what the thoughts in your head actually mean. 

Journaling takes your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, where it becomes easier to find that objectivity.  You see in front of you what’s going on in your head instead of being right in your thoughts. 

It is great to journal how you feel and what your thoughts are and become more aware of the pattern of thinking recurring.  However, this journaling exercise is not just about writing your thoughts.  Remember we don’t want to spend a lot of time rolling in the mud.  You want to spend more time changing that thinking so you can continue forming new habits of thought.  So in this journaling exercise you want to spend a small amount of time on the thinking that causes stress and a large amount of time on how to change that thinking. 

Instructions: 

  1.  Write half a page on what is causing your stress.  Use a highlighter to identify the beliefs you hold about how life should be on a right/wrong path, what you are missing out on and how you or someone else should be doing something differently.  Highlight any worth-less statements where you self-criticize, judge yourself or identify any lack of ability.  Highlight where your thinking is in conflict with the reality of the situation itself, the reality of being a parent or the reality of life.  Finally, be completely honest!  No one is going to read this but you, so don’t try and fool yourself.  You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge so you must be real about what thoughts are running in your head so that you can work on changing them.  
  2. Once you have looked back at your story, start writing at least 1-2 pages of upgrades to that story.  Implement the reality thinking model by addressing each reality point first (reality of situation, then reality of being a parent, etc) and then expanding your mindset to look at this situation from  a more objective widened back view by creating a new story about the reality of the situation, the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of your self-worth.  Do not stop writing until you feel better about the situation and have identified many different ways to view the situation that stop you from being stuck by the situation. 
  3.  

  4. Finally, in preparation for the following three steps of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process, list some things that you may be able to do that could improve the situation or solve your problem.  Don’t worry at this point about HOW you are going to do these things, just write down any potential solutions that may help you through this challenging situation. 
  5.  

  6. Continue with steps one to three every time you are unable to upgrade your thoughts in your mind and are starting to feel consumed by the situation.  It may be something that you need to do daily at the end of the night to begin with, or you may find that you only need to do it every few days. The important thing is to do it!  You have been taught some pretty valuable tools and information on how to change your thinking, so don’t allow yourself to continue being consumed with your present situation.  Do the exercises and you will experientially understand how you can feel better and stop doing postnatal depression.
  7.  

Remember too, we are always here to support you and you always have access to the Q&A Forum in order to get help in applying this method to your life.  You have been thinking in stressful ways for a long time and it will take some work, practice and help to change that sometimes, so make sure you use the full benefit of this program by asking for help when things get difficult.  

People say things in different ways that sometimes helps the penny to drop, so take advantage of the service that you are paying for and get the help you need. 

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