With the Coronavirus comes unprecedented times filled with new time continuums, difficult decisions and multitasking mishaps.
If you’re able to maintain a roof over your head, money flowing into your bank account and food on the table, then you’re in a fortunate position to use this time to reevaluate how you’re spending time and what constitutes winning and losing in this new, temporary world you’re inhabiting.
If you’re living with a dragon of self-doubt, it’s likely that entering into uncertainty at home and at work is giving that rude dragon of yours 856 new things to yell at you about every day. Why are you not able to keep the kitchen clean? When is your boss going to figure out you don’t know what you’re doing? Why can’t you get through one school lesson with your daughter without yelling at her?
Luckily, I’ve been studying mothers and their self-doubt for over a decade and I have a tried and true technique that might help you chart a course of success and self-confidence even when you have no idea what the future holds.
My advice is to make a list of five things that are new in your life right now. This could include everything from homeschooling your children (who would have imagined?!) and working from home to not being able to spend time with your aging parents, or even spending too much time with your spouse.
These days, the list of things that are new to us seems like it could literally be endless. But keep your list of new experiences to five or less. This exercise is meant to bring you mental relief, not bury you under pile of your own insecurities.
The point here is that you need, and more importantly deserve, to bear witness to the newness — and therefore the unfamiliarity — that’s staring you in the face every day. Writing these five things in your journal, on a Post-it note or the back of your hand will help you wrap your head around the fact that of course you don’t know what you’re doing because you’ve never done it before.
Remember, you’re a rookie right now and rookies don’t get things right the first time.
The risk with not doing this exercise is that you’ll end up subconsciously selling yourself short and feeling like a failure because when you don’t admit you’re new to having your children around 24-hours of the day, never having a minute alone and being terrified of going to the grocery store.
It’s only when you admit that something is new that you can give yourself some grace for not nailing it right out of the gate.
When I was struggling with finding the right words and fighting off fatigue while writing Slay Like a Mother, I took this exercise to heart and continuously reminded myself that of course writing a book for the first time is hard because I’ve never written a book before!
I even took the lesson one step further to be sure I’d never forget. During a particularly challenging day of writing, I took out a Post-it note and wrote “I expect this to be hard” and stuck it to the bottom of my computer screen. Then, whenever I became frustrated with the process or my own performance, I looked at that Post-it note and it reminded me that it was supposed to be hard.
My advice is to keep your list of the five things that are new in your life close by — on your mirror, in your journal or on a piece of paper in your purse. This way, everything you’re struggling with navigating your new normal, it will remind you that you’re new at these five, likely monumental, responsibilities and it’s important to give yourself some grace and forgive your mistakes as you go.
Knowing how many new experiences you’re dealing with, there will inevitably be many mistakes to come. And that’s OK! Use this unprecedented reality check you’ve been given to summon a little self-compassion and learn to love yourself through the struggles.