I am confident in myself. I am strong. I am smart. I am beautifully made. I am a fantastic mom. I am desired by my husband and his most-fun friend. I am good at managing money. I keep a glorious home. I crave challenge and love to overcome. I am brave.
I can honestly tell you that for every single one of the statements above, I have believed the exact opposite about myself. I have been sure that I am the worst mother alive, I have literally thought my kids would be better off without me. I have known for a fact that I am a total bumbler at keeping a budget and if it were not for me messing up our finances we would be retired on our own private island by now. I have believed my husband is not interested in me and only pretends to be out of obligation after having made the colossal mistake of marrying me. My house is depressing, out-of-order, and dirty. I am incappable. I am weak. I am afraid.
If this sounds familiar to you, then take heart Mama! The mind is a powerful thing and a tool to be mastered and used to realize confidence and joy. For me, the climb out of this grave of personal fear was incremental. I first had to fully realize and understand deep in my bones that if I did not commit to learning how to shrug off these self-deprecating thoughts I was going to look back on my life one day and be filled with regret over times of sorrow and self-loathing that God created to be filled with laughter and playfulness and love. It became a matter of life or death because I had brought myself to a place where I could feel hopelessly miserable in the midst of the greatest gifts God had for me.
When I decided to make a real and lasting change, I prayed. I asked God to help me, to carry me, to talk me through this change. He showed up for me as He always does. He helped me see my mental self-talk as He does, as I would look at the way my own child talked about herself. If my daughter says something like “I am so bad at math.” My response would be to forbid that kind of talk, to shut it down completely and speak the opposite, to “attack with a violence of action” as my husband would say. I would respond with something like “That is a lie. You’re great at math, you can do ANYTHING in this world that you put your mind to. I’ll help you. Let’s work together. Let’s practice. Let’s Google it.”
Hello! Why would I talk to myself any differently?
When I start to tell myself I’m not smart enough… BOOM! Right there! That’s a lie! God made me to be intelligent and I am in charge of how I see myself and say I am smart! When I think maybe I am not very pretty… BOOM! Right there! That’s a lie! God made me perfectly, just as He intended in every detail, and I know I am beautifully made. But maybe I’m not a good mom or wife… BOOM! You see the idea? The key for me is stopping the thoughts right at the beginning. I cannot start down those rabbit holes in my mind or I will get lost in the darkness they lead to.
I have practiced and practiced every day for many months now; taking every thought captive and being so strict in my thinking and ruling over the Magical Kingdom of my brain with an iron fist. I’m not perfect, negative self-talk sometimes catches me unawares, but my Good Lord I am a thousand times more comfortable with myself and I trust in my abilities like never before. Every day it gets easier. It feels like I have retrained my synapses to start with the right way of thinking rather than the wrong.
When your confidence is healthy, it steeps through your everyday life like tea in hot water. It has allowed me to step outside my old comfort zone and be more adventurous. For example, Auston and I recently took sailing lessons (more on that to follow). I went out of my way to offer to be first to do things that terrified me during our classes, like first to practice Man Overboard Maneuvers, be the first to jump in the half-inflated dingy and pump it back up, start the engine and drive us to shore. I learned about navigating, how to take a bearing and plot our course on a real paper map. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and learn even when I realized I was the only one in our class that didn’t already know how to do all of this. This kind of thing would have paralyzed me with embarrassment before.
I know living fully and confidently and with fierceness isn’t a one-step process for me or maybe many women who might be like me. But I am so happy to finally be learning how to think positively about myself. I want to look back on my life without regrets, without “I wish I had…” and “why didn’t I just…” I want to fully live the joys of every day the Lord has made. God created us to enjoy the world He put us in. I was born in this time and place for His purpose. He gave me senses and emotions and a mind to capture it all, to taste every bite and feel every good thing He has given me. I won’t muddle it up by embracing fear rather than freedom.