I’m a step mum to three children.
I call them my bonus children. Find one good man, get three kids free 🙂
It’s not been something that has been easy at all.
I’ve never wanted children of my own – though I fully appreciate that hormones may take over my senses at some point in the near future. All I wanted a nice bloke to share my life with and to touch (ahem grope) his bottom occasionally.
But it happened, I got mildly stalked by an interesting chap who I ended up quite liking and falling in love with. He came with baggage, an ex wife and three kids. Whilst I’ve never been of the Disney Princess happily ever after ilk, it’s definitely not a situation I ever expected to find myself in.
After waiting a good while to meet them, wondering whether or not they’d take to me and whether or not the ex wife would hate me, there was a lot of getting my head around what this would be for me. Was it a chance to experience the freedom of having children in my life yet being able to give them back / head out to the pub when they did my nut in or would this make me feel trapped, like I had to make compromises and consider many other people in any decisions I made.
After many instances of it being quite the head fuck, eventually I decided to just be me and if anything came up with them, their mum or anything, I could deal with it just like everything else that has come up in my life that I have dealt with. We always forget that we do have epic coping skills and that we do get through all the shit life throws at us.
When I stopped being preoccupied with all the stuff in my head, my issues, me me me ahem (as we all do) , I started to notice something really that bothered me.
The youngest, a little girl, who was about 6 or 7 at the time of this story, had a big thing of saying that she can’t – you know, “I can’t do it.”
I know it’s nice to have her dad do something for her now and then, I mean who doesn’t like people doing stuff for them occasionally, but she had a distinct tone of not really being very capable or believing in her abilities.
It probably doesn’t help having two older brothers who enjoy playing with one another more, who tell her that she is annoying or stupid because she has less experience on computer games or whatever than they do.
Whether you hear something once or often, there are some things that stick in our heads. Especially when the person saying the thing has some authority in your life at the time – your big old grumpy dad, your older brothers and sisters who you look up to or your lovely teacher who is normally very nice but had a bad day and took it out on you.
These things, which sometimes can be fleeting comments as well as things said regularly by your siblings eventually become the voice in your head. Honestly, if you spent a day writing down all the negative things the inner voice comes out with each day, you would start to notice it sounds like someone important in your early years like your mum, grandma etc.
If you repeat a story in our head enough, it actually becomes a belief – something we deem to be true and once we take this story to be true, a part of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) which acts like a big filter, only starts letting in things that support that belief.
The purpose of the RAS is to stop your brain from blowing up from system overload from all the things coming in through all of your senses at each given moment.
It takes a heck of a lot of re-programming to untangle that story, realise it’s a false opinion and that we can tell ourselves a new story. Our brains aren’t half down with a bit of habit and repetition.
It worried me that this little girl was constantly coming out with things that implied she wasn’t very able. I decided to have a go at nipping this in the bud in a fun way.
One morning when she was at our house, she said ‘i can’t’ about something so I hopped in with a little ‘game’. We had to repeat something over and over again.
‘My name is Hannah. I am awesome. I am strong and I can do what ever I put my mind to.‘ – her face lit up with delight and her whole energy changed. We made this into a little morning routine for a bit and even made some little cards she could keep by her bed and do by herself.
Time passed and to be honest, I completely forgot about it until my other half received a text message from his ex with a photo of her practicing her hand writing one evening.
If you can’t read it, it says: “I am Hannah and I am incredible. I believe that I can do abslootly everything if I put my mind to it.”
Obviously I had a bit of a moment about it – you know, making an impact on someone young and impressionable made my eyes get a bit moist. It was a lovely surprise.
The good thing was though, that after being reminded of this little ritual we had and how she was still practicing it, her dad and I both notice a something about her recent behaviour. Neither of us hear her saying she can’t do anything any more. Matt caught her almost saying it one time playing a computer game but then correcting herself saying “this level is a bit tricky isn’t it?”
It’s amazing how little things like this can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
Imagine if we all stopped spinning round in our own heads.
Imagine if we all started saying nice things to ourselves instead of being mean.
Imagine releasing the trap and being less self absorbed about our own issues to be able to really see that we can help someone with something that could be getting them down.
Sometimes we have to get out of our own way to be able to see things like this and to have the self belief that what we have to offer is of value to other people and to have the courage and to act upon them.
p.s. if this resonated with you and you want support working through this, Professional Rebel’s Courage and Confidence Crew is just what you need!
A community for unconventional, creative and rebellious women who want to develop the courage and confidence to live life unedited – find out more here!