Negative Thoughts As A Mom

by Ann deBruyn

Having negative thoughts as a mom is so normal. They might sound like, “Mornings are so stressful,” or, “We’re always late,” or, “My kids deserve better.” There’s this overarching sense that you’ve done something terribly wrong, and it quickly leads to feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or unappreciated.

While having negative thoughts is part of the human condition because it’s what our brains are wired for, this doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. It can often seem like we have more negative thoughts than we do positive ones, but what we can do is manage them. And this week, I’m showing you how.

Join me this week to discover why negative thoughts feel so overwhelming, and what you can do about it. I’m showing you how to feel better faster when you’re in the throes of negative thoughts, and I’m offering a list of alternate statements you can feed your brain when it wants to go down a road of resisting, reacting to, or judging your thoughts.

This month, you have the opportunity to come and get coached by me, and we’re going to work through whatever challenge you’re facing. It’s called the Motherhood Mindset Reset, it’s on August 16th 2022, and I’d love to see you there. It’s totally free, so click here to get involved!

If you’re a mom, you’re in the right place. This is a space for you to do the inner work and become more mindful. I can help you unbusy your time, reduce anxiety and overwhelm, and live every day a little more soulfully and purpose driven. And, if you want to take this work deeper, doors are open for my Grow You virtual life coaching program. Click here to learn more and join us. 

Hi there. Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. My name is Natalie Bacon, and I’m an advanced certified mindfulness life coach as well as a wife and mom. If you’re here to do the inner work and grow, I can help. Let’s get started.

Hello, my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy to be here with you today. Hope you’re doing well. We have a really amazing episode that I am excited to talk with you about. But first, I want to know if you are coming to hang out with me in about six days for Motherhood Mindset Reset. This is a workshop that I’m hosting. It’s completely free. I’m going to be going deeper than we go on the podcast.

So on the podcast, I share my thoughts with you. If you come work with me at a workshop, what happens is I teach you a tool and then I will coach you and everyone else on the call. We will use your examples in that tool. It can be a way for you to get specific help on any challenge you are facing right now. I can also be a way for you to kind of test out and dip your feet wet into what coaching is.

If you’ve never been coached and you listen to this podcast, this is made for you. I think so many of us, particularly this time of year, end of summer beginning of fall transition into that school year, feel so many different emotions. You want to make sure that you are managing your mind in a way that is optimized for you showing up as your best self, as the best mom that you can be. So you can get all of the details and reserve your seat over at nataliebacon.com/motherhood I would so love to hang out with you there.

Now let’s talk about negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are normal. They are a part of the human condition. They are sentences in your head. They are interpretations that you have about the facts that create negative feelings. It can seem like we have more negative thoughts than positive because your brain is wired for survival, as you’ve heard me say many times before.

But what this means is that it focuses more on the negative because it wants to make sure that you are safe, that you are loved, that you are protected. There’s no way to stop this part of your brain. For survival purposes, we don’t want to stop it.

However, we do want to be able to manage it so that it doesn’t become so overwhelming for us. So we don’t think that these negative thoughts are facts and are true. I think that what makes negative thoughts so bad is when we react to them. We act out on them. We assume that they are true. We think that whatever is happening in our mind is fact. Then we go say a bunch of things that we later regret, whether that’s to our friends, our family, our colleagues. It’s all coming from the mindset that we have.

What you want to do instead is not react, not attach to these thoughts, not assume that they are facts. You want to get really good at watching your negative thoughts. You want to get good at accepting them, at not judging them, at allowing them.

In some ways I think that attaching and reacting to negative thoughts is easier than doing the work of curiously looking at them and allowing them because you get to escape emotional responsibility. You get to say oh, no, no, I’m feeling so bad because this thing outside of me happened. If it’s someone else’s fault, then you don’t have to do the hard work of looking at your brain.

When you decide though that it’s worth it to take a look at what’s going on there, doing so with curiosity, without judgment can be so powerful. It’s just that the first hurdle to doing it feels very hard. So if you are used to blaming your circumstances on how you feel, if you’re feeling very irritated and you blame it on your spouse, or you’re feeling very overwhelmed and you blame it on the season of life, right. This all comes back to the mindset you have that’s creating the feelings. Before finding this work, you may have not even known that.

The same is true for all of us. Right? I didn’t know that my mindset created my feelings until doing this work. I can tell you that even years into it, anytime that I have new circumstances that are challenging, I have to slow it down and make sure that I stay in emotional responsibility.

A few weeks ago, we unexpectedly didn’t have childcare for a week. Our nanny got sick. I did not go into emotional blame. Like I didn’t blame her for feeling overwhelmed, but I did notice my mind sort of go to a little bit of self-pity. So I paused and I got really curious about that. That’s what you want to notice. If you are feeling a feeling and not taking responsibility for creating not feeling, that’s when your negative mindset can be really disempowering.

What you want to do instead and what I did was take a look at what I was thinking that was creating the self-pity. In this case, it was poor me. This is so hard. Why do I have to deal with this? Kind of just sloppy thinking. It’s okay. I’m not beating myself up for it. I just need to be able to identify those thoughts. From there, if I can just kind of notice that they’re silly thoughts. They’re not real. They’re not me. It’s not a problem that I have them. I don’t need to judge myself for them.

It allows me to move into feeling better so much more quickly because then I can go into what is true for me, which is you know what? This is just harder than I thought. That’s okay. I can feel that this is challenging. I can feel a little bit of defeat maybe even or maybe it’s tired or overwhelm, and allow it without blaming anyone. While still seeing that I’m the creator of it, but without that extra layer of something’s gone wrong. That sort of dirty pain that isn’t so clean.

Negative thoughts can be any sentence, any judgment, any interpretation in your mind that creates an unpleasant experience for you. It might sound like I can’t take this anymore. The mornings are so stressful. We’re always late. I’m not showing up as the mom I want to be. I can’t believe I made that decision. I regret who I was in the past. My kids deserve better. There’s sort of this sense that you did something really terribly wrong, and you attach to those thoughts. That’s what makes them so bad, right? You think that what you’re saying is fact when instead those are simply just thoughts.

Here’s a list of thoughts that you can use to allow negative thoughts. It’s basically like talking back to your brain. So if you’re listening to your brain, it’s saying all of those things that I just listed out.

What you want to do is after you hear what your brain has to say, say all right, brain. I see that that’s your default thinking. Now, though, I want to talk back to you. I want to let you know that it’s not a problem I’m thinking negatively. It’s actually natural to have negative thoughts. I’m having a negative thought. That’s okay. It doesn’t make me a bad person. In fact, these are just thoughts. They aren’t facts, and I don’t have to react to them. I can be really curious. I can even laugh at them if I want to. Then I can come up with thoughts that feel more empowering. Like this is hard, and I can overcome it.

So you may just do this in your mind, but I find that it can be really powerful to do it in written form. So if you have a little journal, you can talk back to your negative thoughts through words, through writing. You can do it on your phone even if you want to get it out of your mind. Because thoughts can be really slippery, and they lead into the next thought and the next. Before you know it, you’re thinking about your grocery list. So writing them down even in some sort of app or your notes app or your reminders app or something on your phone can be really powerful to keep you focused on actually allowing these thoughts.

But either way, what you want to do is address them, normalize them, allow them. Notice the emotion that you have toward them. You want to make sure that it is curiosity and open and love and maybe even some laughter. You really don’t want to be mean and hyper critical and judging mental negatively to those thoughts, which I think is what we do on default. Right? I’ve talked before about having that inner critic and your inner coach. You want to make sure that your inner coach is the one who’s in charge here.

After you allow your negative thoughts to be there, after you normalize them and you’re in a state of curiosity, it can also be useful to ask yourself questions that are really empowering. So a disempowering question would be why does this always happen to me? Or why do I think such horrible thoughts? Right? Because your brain will go to work on finding the answer. It doesn’t discriminate on the type of question. So you want to make sure that your question is very empowering.

For example, you might ask what am I making this mean? What else is true? How do I want to respond to my brain? How do I want to feel? What do I need right now? How can I give myself what I need?

For me personally, I love validation in the form of words. It’s fascinating to me that when I give myself validation through words, it works just as effectively as if someone else gave it to me. It seems like it wouldn’t, but it does.

So if you’re someone who would really like to be told you’re doing a good job, tell yourself that. Say it out loud, look yourself in the eyes in the mirror and say you’re doing a really good job. Or, again, while you’re waiting in line for the carwash or to checkout at the grocery store, make a list of all the things that you want to thank yourself for. You will be amazed at how good you feel when you acknowledge yourself.

I know for so many of us, myself included, we have so many different roles in our lives. Without slowing down to say hey, you’re doing a good job, it can feel like some of the roles that we do, including motherhood, can go unseen. You can feel unappreciated. It’s not that the people in your life don’t appreciate you. It’s just that they’re thinking about their own lives. So the more that you can give yourself what you need, the easier it will be for you to have a more supportive mindset and stay out of these negative thoughts.

Another thing that I think is important to mention here when it comes to having negative thoughts is the constraints that you have around your brain. The older I get, the more I do this work, the more I read, the more I listen to books and podcasts and coaching, the more careful I am with respect to what I let in my brain. Social media, TV, the news, who I’m around, all of these things I take very careful consideration into when I let them in my brain and to what extent.

I do not watch the news at all. This is a conscious choice. I make sure that I still am informed. I love how on Instagram and some other platforms now there are just amazing news sources that you can follow that are closer to the source and that are a little bit more neutral and are not so weighted towards one particular ideology. That’s been really useful for me.

That’s not to say that you should or shouldn’t watch the news. I have no idea what you should do. But the reason that I’ve chosen not to is because it’s hard for me to coach myself in the moment. Like it takes so much coaching.

So let me give you an example. The news loves to report on shortages. There’s a supply chain shortage, a car shortage, a formula shortage, housing shortage, like all of the shortages, right. This makes sense that they would report in this way. But what happens is we tend to think that what they’re reporting are the facts. Okay. So shortage is a word that is used to interpret the facts. If we want there to be facts about something, then we would need to actually say what the specific facts are.

Okay. This year there are X amount of homes last year, there were Y amount. Or this year, there’s A amount of formula, and last year there is B amount. Whatever. We would have to compare it in a really boring way. The facts are always boring. The interpretation of the facts is what’s interesting. That is a thought.

So the news offers us lots of thoughts. The problem is if we all pay attention to the news, which reports negative thoughts because that’s what our brains like to pay attention to. It’s no fault of the news. They need to be able to make a profit. The way that they can do that is to grab our attention. Our attention goes to where the negative news is, because of our survival brain. It all makes sense. Yet, if you watch the news regularly, it will be very challenging for you to keep clean thoughts that are not negative. You will have to do so much coaching. It will be so hard to not see those thoughts as facts. Okay.

So I did so much coaching around the formula shortage, for example. So RJ takes formula, and I have no drama about it. We have had to go to different stores to look for it and get it, but we are not in a bad headspace about it. That’s not to say that there aren’t fewer ways to get it. I am aware that there are.

But it’s just to say that having a positive mindset is so helpful. Thinking oh my gosh, I don’t know how my baby’s gonna get fed. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe there’s a shortage. This is horrible. Creating all of this extra anxiety, which does not actually change the amount of formula in the stores. It’s just not useful.

So all this is to say is that when you’re listening to media, any type of media, or when you’re around people, notice the type of thoughts that are being offered to you. There are always thoughts being offered to you. You get to decide intentionally which thoughts you want to keep. The more though that you allow certain types of thoughts in your brain, the more you are going to just believe them as fact.

So what you want to do is do that for the positive things, the positive books, the positive podcasts, the positive Instagram accounts, right. They have all these news accounts now that just report positive news. That’s what you want to be filling your brain. I’m telling you. This is like a little hack that will make it so much easier for you to manage your mind and to have a more supportive mindset.

There’s no place where you arrive where you never have another negative thought again, and you wouldn’t want that to be the case. But there’s a difference between having some negative thoughts that you can manage and that are healthy, and being totally stuck in a negative mindset that is overwhelming and that doesn’t serve you.

So the biggest takeaways today that I want you to have are to start to watch your negative thoughts and notice that you are not your negative thoughts. Practice talking back to your negative thoughts. So you can allow them to be there without having them run your mind, without having them be in charge.

Then also try to limit and constrain what input you allow into your brain in the first place so that you don’t have this negative mindset that is all consuming. For me when my mind goes into a negative place, I do the coaching that I’m trained to do. Then I go and I watch coaching replays. These are like the replays we have inside Grow You.

It helps me apply the tools to my brain in a very different way than listening to podcasts, which are amazing but give thoughts about different topics. When you see someone else’s brain in the negative and getting coached, you can then apply it to your brain, and it is like magic. It really helps you clean up your mind and get to a more supportive place. That’s what I have for you today my friend. I will talk with you next week. Take care.

If you loved this podcast I invite you to check out Grow You, my mindfulness community for moms where we do the inner work together. Head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching to learn more.