So this blog post started as a note taking exercise and then turned in to ruminating and then into a blog... After my last blog so many of you reached out with your love and good wishes and amongst the comments a friend pointed me to a website called Born Happy (thank you Kate x). I had a good read of the website. These sentences leapt off the page and hit me....
"It's how we are thinking about the things in our lives (births, deaths, divorces) that creates the feelings of feeling stressed, angry, hurt or sad. Not the things themselves.
How we feel is down to what we're thinking about in that moment. And it ALWAYS works this way around"
From 'how to be happy' on the website Born Happy.
So what am I thinking?
I'm thinking that my mum would be angry at me for having a messy garden. Which creates a feeling of shame, guilt, fear.
I'm thinking that Andy will be cross and annoyed that the kitchen is a mess and the dishes aren't washed. Which creates a feeling of guilt and frustration and overwhelm.
I'm thinking that my children are not behaving 'right' and I want them to be happy. I cannot change their thoughts or their behaviour. Only my thinking about it.
I'm thinking that I'm poor, fat, stupid and lazy. I'm letting those thoughts - which are not MY thoughts - rule how I feel. Those thoughts make me feel bad. And writing this I also feel slightly sick because I'm recognising those thoughts as pretty constant thoughts. And the feelings of shame and guilt as pretty constant too. Ouch.
The point of power is always in the present moment. Louise Hay.
It's only a thought and a thought can be changed. Another Louise Hay affirmation.
It's odd that I have to hear things so many times in so many different ways in order for them to sink in. I'm learning that I can change how the world looks by changing my thinking about it. I'm learning that I can change how I feel by changing what I think.
So how does that help me while I grieve for the loss of my Mum? A lot of what makes me feel so awful right now comes from ruminating on the past - "I didn't do enough with Mum while she was here" and "I wasn't a good enough daughter" and on thinking negatively about how Mum would react if she was alive now - things like "Mum would be so cross with me if she saw the state of my garden".
None of these things are really true though, are they? When Mum was alive I did what I did and Mum did what she did. And sometimes we did things together and sometimes we didn't. And that's all ok. And if Mum did see my garden now she might tell me off but Mum would also be kind and generous and help me fix it back up.
And perhaps that is the deeper thought behind all this - life wouldn't be so hard if Mum was here because she would help. She would see the laundry mountains and the unhoovered floor and the overgrown garden and my hands full of 3 young children needing my love and attention and she would have rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in. Mum was only human so she might well have told me off for letting things get this bad but she still would have got stuck in - no matter how much I might protest. Because I would protest - being helped brings the thoughts that say I should be doing this all myself which creates the feelings of powerlessness and shame.
We aren't meant to do it all by ourselves. Parenting is meant to be done by a tribe. That isn't how it is anymore though. So I need to find a thought that says it is ok to ask for help. It's ok to be helped. And it is ok for that help to come from other sources than my Mum. It hurts that my Mum can't help because asking your Mum for help is ok. So there I can see another unhelpful thought that says that it's not ok to be helped by other people. Which is of course causing me stress and anguish because Mum is not around to help out physically any more.
It's a fascinating process...watching your thoughts and how they create your feelings. It is another way to look at life and it gives us so much power to feel better. Simple. Not necessarily easy.
And of course it isn't going to take the sadness away, to make me miss my Mum less by thinking differently. But it can take away the negativity that causes the guilt, the anger, the shame, the fear. Those feelings are not necessary.
One of the things I've been learning since starting this blog is that I'm not alone - I'm not the only one who struggles. It makes me wonder what thoughts you guys get stuck on that create bad feelings in your body... Care to share?