Here’s the scenario: The baby was up one extra time in the night and you’re feeling groggy this morning. Despite your exhaustion, you manage to get your three year-old ready for school and successfully load both kids into the car. On the way, you all sing and joke around together.
Upon arrival, you congratulate yourself for being on time with two relatively cheerful kids in tow. As you walk towards the classroom a little, “note to self” begins to tug at your brain. Oh dear, today was your turn to bring in the snack for your child’s class and you completely forgot.
We’ve all been there and done that but what is most important here isn’t the forgotten snack. It’s what you tell yourself about it. Do you say, “How could I have done that? That was so stupid”? or, “Now, I’ve let everyone down”?
Not everyone does do this, but for some of us it’s hard to let go when we make a mistake and we beat ourselves up when we do.
Why is this so important? We may not even realize we are doing it, but when we screw up or forget something and then think negative thoughts, it does NOT HELP AT ALL.
There are steps to take to combat those pesky automatic negative thoughts. But what can be useful right off the bat is to simply note when we tell ourselves things that are not very kind or useful. Noticing when these thoughts occur and changing them from negative to neutral or positive ones starts with mindful awareness.
It may take some time to get the hang of it but you will never be short on opportunities to practice. You can even experiment with mindfulness with your kids by taking a short field trip into your backyard. Lie in the grass together and talk about thoughts that move like clouds through the sky. Even if you are not feeling so relaxed yourself, this time in will be good practice for both of you.
Over time, your thoughts will become less automatic as you develop the ability to really know what you are telling yourself. So the next time you make a mistake, try talking to yourself with words that hold no judgment or pain. You will rest easier in mindful awareness.