I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been participating in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge. It seemed like a good exercise for the summer, both for my blog and for myself. With school out, I’m spending a lot of time with my kids, and like all parents I could always use a little more peace in my life. Unfortunately, last week I was out of town and didn’t manage to get a post in on time. When I saw that the topic was Developing Positive Self-Talk, though, I knew I wanted to write something about this anyway.

As someone who came of age during the 90’s, the first image that pops into my head when you say ‘positive self-talk’ is Stuart Smalley saying, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

In terms of SNL motivational speakers, Stuart had it all over Matt Foley if you’re looking for positivity.

The second thing I think of when I hear the phrase ‘positive self-talk’ is affirmations. As good hippies, my parents loved affirmations. I remember little notes taped up around the house, containing positive phrases to repeat over and over again. As an adolescent, this made me roll my eyes, like pretty much everything else my parents did.

Between the Stuart Smalley reference and my early experiences with affirmations, I can’t say that I really took the idea of positive self-talk all that seriously for the longest time. It seemed sort of like a joke – like something you did instead of actually going out and doing something. To be fair, maybe sometimes it is that. However, now that I’m a little older myself, I see more to it. The reason I see more to it basically boils down to one thing: I have children.

Now that I’m a parent, the things I say about myself are never really for my ears only. My kids hear what I say, and see what I do. When I’ve made jokes at my own expense in the past, they’ve reacted with indignation. My little ones don’t want anyone saying bad things about their mom – even when I’m doing it myself. I can actually understand that. When the tables are turned, and my kids say bad things about themselves, I feel pretty indignant, too. I don’t want anyone saying bad things about my kids.

I don’t want to share my hang-ups with my kids, and I’m fooling myself if I think I can walk around all day bathing in insecurity without my kids catching on. This means that I actually need to work to foster more positive self-talk, so that my kids overhear what I want them to overhear. Plus – bonus points – by cultivating a more positive mind-set I’m actually helping myself. When I start the day expecting it to be terrible, it pretty much always is. When I start the day looking forward to what’s ahead, things go better for everyone.

There are actually proven benefits to looking on the sunny side, as well. Optimists enjoy better health and longer life spans. They’re less likely to suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure, and they’re even less likely to smoke. Affirmations without action may not get you very far, but if you can cultivate a positive outlook it seems that you’re more likely to take action and take care of yourself. If you have children, you’re also setting an example for them.

Right now, as summer vacation drags on and I sometimes find myself counting the days until school starts again, I’m working hard to cultivate that positive self-talk. It means that when I start feeling annoyed, I take a couple of deep breaths and ask myself whether there’s actually a problem, or if I’m just tired or hungry or I’ve been ignoring my need to pee. It means that instead of approaching my day with the thought I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in, I start out by thinking I have a day to spend with my kids and I’m looking forward to it. It doesn’t always work, but it does improve things, most of the time.

I’ve come around on positive self-talk, slowly but surely. Maybe Stuart Smalley was on to something, after all.

As I said, I didn’t write this in time for this week’s carnival, but other people did. I encourage you to check out their posts for even more positivity:

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  1. This has been a challenging one for me over the years, and one area in which I can say I’ve made great gains – at least I think so.

    I have banned weight talk (mostly from me) around the house, I don’t diet anymore and instead I talk about feeling tired and needing to be stronger when I get on an exercise and healthy eating kick. I can now say things about myself that I like. But the hardest part is accepting compliments without a negative follow up “oh this old thing?” kind of idea.

    Time will tell how this passes on to my girls as they head into the self-discovery years of their adolescence.
    Christy’s last post … Top 10 Back to School Eco TipsMy Profile

  2. I watched my aunt make a concious choice to never talk bad about herself when she became a mom. It stuck with me. I do this. I also make a point of talking aloud the things that I love about myself.
    Through my years of PPD I learend that 3 positive affirmations about my parenting were my life line…and the girls. THey stuck with me and although I don’t use them hardly at all, they are still the 3 things I use to describe my mothering –
    1. I am a good mother.
    2. I am a calm mother.
    3. I am a loving mother.
    Heather’s last post … Girl TimeMy Profile

  3. The few times people have said “You’re a good mother” to me have brought me to my knees. The horrible realization that I didn’t believe it was a mind-blower. I had to stop myself from correcting them. I now make a point of telling other moms that they are a) good moms and b) WHY they are good moms.

    Sidenote: You’re a great mother and writer Amber! (Just take a look at your artistic, energetic friendly children! and your blog (S). Nuff said!)
    harriet Fancott’s last post … Lake lifeMy Profile

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