Wellness Through my Daughter's Eyes
Here at InDependent, we talk a lot about wellness and self-care. Those things can mean a lot of different things to different people. Fitness and exercise, nutrition and healthy eating, and focusing on mental health all come to mind. Prioritizing your own well-being takes a lot of forms, especially in a group as diverse as military spouses. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care in a very basic way - how I treat myself, starting specifically with how I talk to and about myself.
I recently started looking for a new job, which is always something of an adventure, and one that many military spouses face with each new duty station. Fundamentally, job seeking is about selling yourself and your best qualities to prospective employers. Writing resumes and cover letters extolling my many virtues got me thinking about how I talk about myself. As you go through the job application process, you have to repeatedly talk about yourself and what makes you special. I find this somewhat difficult to do. Objectively, I know I’m a smart, skilled person, but actually putting that into words can be a struggle. I find myself wondering why it’s so hard to think and say good things about myself.
I’m a perfectionist. When I make a mistake, I berate myself. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I could be smarter, more successful, a better parent, healthier, and how I should generally have it all together. I know I’m not alone in this. A lot of us lie awake at the end of the day thinking about everything we did wrong. I think this is particularly true for women, parents, and military spouses. There is a lot of pressure, both internal and external, to be perfect.
As I search for a job and frequently have to put into words all of the things that demonstrate how smart, capable, and successful I am, it throws into stark contrast the way I speak about myself in everyday life. And now that I have a young daughter who hears, and surely internalizes everything I say, that worries me. Every time I speak negatively about myself, even if it’s done in a sarcastic, self-deprecating way, my daughter hears me. I don’t want her to grow up minimizing her accomplishments, focusing on her mistakes, and beating herself up when she isn’t perfect.
So for me, my newest approach to self-care starts with speaking more positively about myself. I want my daughter to hear me talk about what I’m proud of and what I’m good at. When I make a mistake, I want her to hear me say what I’ll do differently next time, instead of hearing me call myself a failure. I’m finding it difficult to break the negative thought patterns I’ve gotten into, but I think it’s really important, for my own well-being and for my daughter’s.
I’ve found that surrounding myself with positive people can help. Check out Hello Mamas, a social networking site for parents, to find new friends who will inspire you to think more positively! It can be hard to change the way we think about ourselves, but often that’s the first real step to improving our well-being.