The Festering of Negative Self-Talk
November 3, 2017
About six months ago our lives changed drastically. I was offered a job at a non-profit I’m passionate about. This NP has a vision that I was desperate to align with and the job uses my gifts in unique and fitting ways. I was smitten from the beginning.
My taking this job meant a ton of things had to change in our household. My transition to full-time employment with frequent travel would mean Andrew would leave his job and start doing some freelance work from home. This switch is something we’ve always been open to, but it was a terrifying to imagine myself not with Rosie 24-7. Sure, I’d been a nervous wreck for the year I’d stayed home with her. Sure I’d not been mentally stable in a while. But could this job actually help me in that department?
When I examined ALL THE FEELINGS- wanting BADLY to take this job, my unwillingness to leave Rosie, the anxiety attached to being away from her, the pride attached to “MOMMA DOES IT BETTER,” and so on, and so forth- I realized many of these were feelings I wanted to let go of. These were vices: stubbornness, pride, anxiety. It was a dramatic realization on my part.
I didn’t want to leave her
With an extremely supportive, malleable husband and (ultimately) a desire to trust in the Lord with all my heart, we jumped head-first into this new season and we chose to see this job and the newness as a gift from above.
The switch to the new roles and new routine was drastic. Andrew was on full-time Rosie duty and I was working hard to learn a new job, complete with a travel schedule and a remote set-up that kept me on my toes. We quickly found that we thrive in this set-up.
Sure, I missed Rosie the way any parent who’d been home with her all dang day and night for 1.5 years would, but my job had me using my gifts toward a vision that is so, so worthy of my time. On top of that, I was supporting our little family.
Then the inner voice of self-doubt crept in.
Brene Brown calls this voice the “shame gremlins” in her books, which I am currently devouring one by one.
The shame gremlins were sneaky to disguise themselves as humility, praise for my husband, and an innocently small dose of self-deprecation. Here’s the way it went:
Any person in our life: How’s your new job? –or– How’s your new family set up?
Me: It’s good! I think this is a season that really works for us. You know, Andrew is just so good at stay-at-home parenthood! So much better than I was! He doesn’t get stressed about it, he stays well mentally, and he gets things done without stressing. I think Rosie responds really well to him with the at-home therapies we do too! I was too much of a “pusher” and I think she could feel that from me. And I like my job, so it works really well.
Did you catch that? It was subtle, especially in the moment.
Basically, for 6 months I’ve been praising my husband and sneakily shaming myself. I had no idea I was wounding myself and setting myself up for a bad mental place.
You see, this sneaky form of negative self-talk wasn’t just having an impact on how I saw myself as a mother. It was putting immense pressure on myself in my career. The more I told myself and others that Andrew was so much better at caring for Rosie than I am, the more I internalized the message that I’d better be good at my job because it’s the only thing I have going for me. This set me up for mental instability when the job isn’t easy, my gifts aren’t being used, I’m exhausted from travel, etc.
I was feeling especially down the other day as I was working and I couldn’t figure out where the pressure was coming from. I work for a fantastic company and my peers and direct superiors are all for me. They care about me and our family on a level most aren’t privileged to know form their workplace. The sad truth is that six months ago I heaped the pressure on myself the first time I started this sneaky talk.
The truth is, Andrew and I both have gifts to give Rosie, our home, our workplaces, and our world. We both have strengths that are valuable in all of these settings. We have a flexibility in our marriage that allows us to roll with whatever comes from one season to the next and take it as a gift from God. I’m thankful for that most of all.
One day we could “switch back” and I’d be home more and you know what? We would survive. More than that, we would thrive. But for now, we’ll keep things exactly as they are and resist the shame that so easily creeps in. Next time, we’ll stop it sooner!