When I was a mother with two young children, I ignored all the sensible advice I read in the baby books. Each afternoon, as soon as my children were asleep, the thought that I should ‘take the opportunity to rest while the baby is asleep’ passed through my mind. And each afternoon, I dismissed that thought and set about cleaning up my house.
I picked up toys, washed dishes, plumped up the cushions, swept floors… just in case a visitor should happen to knock on the door. I didn’t want anyone to see my mess. They might think I was an inadequate mother. Instead, I wanted everyone to think, “Wow! What a great mother Sue is! She has two small children and she can still keep her house clean and tidy and she even has fresh muffins just out of the oven. Isn’t she coping well?”
Of course, I became exhausted and grumpy and impatient because I never got enough rest. I was too tired to enjoy my beautiful children properly. But at least I was all prepared for those unexpected visitors… who almost never came.
What do people think of me? What do they think of my children, my house, my mothering skills… I wonder. And I let the power of other people’s thoughts about me shape my behaviour.
Other people’s thoughts? Are they really thinking what I imagine them to be thinking? Perhaps they aren’t thinking about me at all.
But still I waste energy worrying and I do things that don’t make me and my family happy. And I don’t feel at peace.
Why do I worry? Could it be I want everyone to think well of me? Is that necessary if I want to belong?
Except that was then and not now. Somewhere along the way, I gave up worrying. It was far too hard always thinking about what others were thinking about me.
I found out something important: I don't have to be perfect to belong... to be loved... to be accepted by those who matter. Why didn't I realise that before?
So I am just me, and other people’s opinions of me no longer rule my life. They are no longer more important than my family.
I am sure my family are very relieved!
“… always thinking about what others are thinking about me…” That sounds as confused as the thoughts in my head. Does anyone understand what I mean?