Back to school is in full swing and parents are feeling the frenzy of orientations, appointments, open house nights, supply shopping and making sure they post the sweetly captioned pictures of shiny, happy children—lunch boxes in hand—all over our favorite social media outlets.
This is one of those times of the year that I think we are all prone to a little bit of self-doubt:
- Did we do enough fun family vacations?
- Did we practice enough math problems to catch up?
- Did we even make a dent in that summer bucket list?
- Will the other moms judge me if I send my kids to public school?
- Will the other moms judge me if I homeschool?
- Will I be judged based off what we pack for lunch?
- Am I enough?
- Am I okay?
- Am I worthy?
Self doubt begins creeping in as slowly as the early autumn fog settles into the season. And it can lead to a lot of depression, anxiety and/or shame based thinking. And I’m here to tell you to watch for it! These negative feelings taunt us and try to shake our confidence and wear us down. And a lot of time, for a lot of people, it’s successful. As a general rule, we do a whole lot more listening to the negative self-talk than we do speaking to ourselves. And this is one area where “listening” isn’t exactly a virtue. Any old person can listen to their own criticism. But those who really want to be healthy and whole?! They practice an honest assessment of who they are. Instead of counting all the things they didn’t do this summer or all the chaos behind the happy, shiny pictures, count the things you did and the things that went right. Instead of listening to the tired old record player of your failures and shortcomings, dust yourself off and count your wins, your skills, accomplishments and positive qualities. Write them down! Don’t be afraid of sounding pompous or arrogant. This is just for you (unless you want to share it with your loved one, a friend or a therapist!).
Celebrating yourself isn’t just for people who turn a blind eye to the negative things in life. You probably already know most of your weaknesses and screw ups. So what? We all have them. Acknowledge them, resolve to work on them, and then move along because those don’t define you. But when all the self-doubt comes this time of year rattling your bones and disturbing your peace, stand up and defend yourself. Read through the list of things that went well, things that you’re proud of. And at the end of the day, sign your name to both your foibles and your merits with a broad stroke.
Say: “I am just one human being doing the best I can in a hard and unforgiving world.” And that’s enough.
Written by: Elizabeth Peck, a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Candidate at the University of the Cumberlands and a support assistant to Pax Family Counseling.