I want you to take a minute to imagine this.
- Imagine that you pack up your worries into a suitcase. See yourself adding each worry into the case and closing it.
- Take your suitcase of worry to the airport with you and check it in.
- As the plane begins take off, you realize that your worry never got stowed on the plane. You see the suitcase stacked with others on a cart on the tarmac and watch it grow smaller and smaller as your plane climbs into the sky.
- Very soon all you can see is the airport and then even that blends in with the landscape below.
- You see clouds and sky and an undulating landscape of green and tan below.
- You feel yourself disconnecting from the worry. Relief washes over you.
In order to understand our mother worry, we need to take heightened perspective and view our individual worry within the context of our biology and culture. Take a moment to disconnect and gain perspective, as if looking at the land from a plane.
One important piece of knowledge to have is that of how your biology has evolved to protect you. Our brains are hardwired to look for danger and seek pleasure. Over hundreds of years of evolution, this mechanism has remained relatively the same. Now we are in an industrialized, technology driven world and our brains are still wired to detect danger and find pleasure but we have waaaaaaay more data and stimulation inundating our brains than we did hundreds of years ago. This nonstop stream of information coming not just from our five senses, but from our electronics can overwhelm and confuse our brain. As a result, it isn’t sure where danger is going to come from and can sometimes fixate on thoughts. This fixation is worry.
Worry begins in your thoughts from a brain that is doing it’s best to protect you but doesn’t always know how. You get stuck in your own thought loops worrying about what may happen or what you may have done wrong.
Yes, your brain is hardwired for the negative. Yes, worry is natural. No, it doesn’t have to always be like this. Yes, you can learn to help your brain cope.
The second important piece of knowledge to understand from the airplane perspective is the culture in which we live in. It is impossible to remove ourselves from the influences of our country, family, faith, pop culture, technology, mores and myths. All of this, mostly subconsciously, shapes who we are, how we act and what we believe.
The culture of Experts
We live in a culture of experts. The more our ability to communicate and have access to information has grown, the more specialized our experts have become. I think it’s one way our brains deal with the overload of information available, turn to the expert on that subject. We are more and more frequently being taught to ask and listen to experts. We rely on them to gather the data and dispel it into bite size chunks of information, usually telling us exactly what to do.
(Even as I write this, I see a dichotomy and irony in that I am, in a sense, asking you to see me as an expert too. I do not want my knowledge to supersede your wisdom. Always weigh what I say against your own internal wisdom and intuition.)
Even as we learn to seek the expert opinion, we learn not to trust ourselves. We must not let our emotions “get in the way” of our decisions. We cannot let our feelings determine how we act. We must not behave “irrationally”.
When we are not allowed to listen for our intuition, when we must ignore the whispers from our body and heart, we end up confused, unsure and freaked out. We question ourselves and our decisions and worry about them relentlessly.
I call bullshit.
I’m going to take the radical stand that listening to our feelings, from deep within our bodies, is the direct path to our wisdom. And that is the primary voice we should be listening to as mothers. Our worry will decrease when we can allow ourselves to listen to our Wisdom, act upon it and learn to trust it.
The culture of social media
We also live in a culture of technology. One piece that I see affecting mothers is the constant streaming of social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and even Twitter are shaping how we view ourselves, and motherhood. While social media has brought us powerful methods of communication, communing, collaborating, organizing, resisting and creating relationships, it has also brought many faulty facades.
These facades fool us into believing life “should be” a certain way. They fool us into believing we should feel a certain way. They fool us into believing that posting an angry rant about things we don’t like is more acceptable than showing our vulnerabilities; that posting perfectly composed pictures with beautiful people or homes is more valuable than gritty pictures including mess and tears; that life doesn’t count until it’s been documented with a smiling selfie or tweet.
I call bullshit.
Life is messy and vulnerable and confusing. Creating a feed or pinterest board filled with images that include both the beautiful AND the messy, both the happy and the sad, the mundane AND the transcendent is a powerful reclaiming of our true, authentic humanity and an act of social rebellion.
When we can share fully of our whole selves and witness other women doing the same, our worries about being right and okay will quickly evaporate. You will recognize both the divinity and the flaws of your humanity and learn both are weaving an incredible tapestry of womanhood.
Let me be real here. I’ve fallen into the trap of only posting happy pictures and only documenting the highs of life. So I’m going to take the opportunity with this post, to set the intention to choose to more accurately depict my life on social media. I will post about the struggles and the joys, the ugly and that which I’m proud of.
If this act of authenticity calls to you, join me on Instagram using the hashtag #Lifeismessyandsublime #Mamastransformingworry
The first step in healing our worry is perspective
The first step in healing your mom worry is to seek a heightened perspective. Become an observer of the world you are in. Bear witness (not judgment) to your own collusion with the cultural norms.
When you take on a heightened perspective, you are then freed up to ask questions.
- Do I want this? Do I want to give up my own truth and wisdom to experts?
- Do I want to feel empty and depressed seeing social media posts?
- Do I want to be a victim of my own biology?
- Is this true?
- Is this the story I want to believe about myself? About my life?
And the hopeful question of all: What do I want instead?
Start dreaming Mama.