The Most Unhealthy Thing You’re Probably Doing Right Now
Women in their childbearing year are some of the most health-conscious and ingredient savvy people I know who also have a nose for anything toxic lurking in the air within a ten yard radius. You can taste if water has not been filtered, and you’ll walk clear on the other side of the street to avoid inhaling cigarette smoke. Your senses are on high alert, and it feels good to be in charge this way. You’ve got your body’s physical health under strict surveillance, and so far so good.
So what could possibly be more unhealthy than any of those substances on the Avoid list? It’s actually not something you have to worry about ingesting. It’s something you are doing…or not doing.
The most unhealthy thing you can do during pregnancy and motherhood is not asking for the support you need. Feeling alone and without recourse is uncomfortable. Feeling it and not doing anything about it is downright self-sabotage. It can linger without being addressed. It can spiral out of control and make you feel separate and unloved. It affects not only you, but anyone you come into contact with throughout your day. Not fun, eh?
It’s a huge responsibility to bring new life into the world. And the mother is, in truth, the baby’s very best source of comfort, food and all the rest. Expecting or having a baby can be difficult, full of doubt and most certainly overwhelming at times. The fact is, we were never meant to mother alone. Women are, by nature, hard-wired to be in community with and connected to other women, be they family, friends, or just friendly faces in our midst. And we know this, so we yearn for support when it’s not there. But we don’t always have support available. This strong connection to others can sometimes get in our way.
Over the course of your day or week, there are probably moments when you wish you had more help. A shoulder to dump all of your concerns onto without getting a long list of “shoulds”, an extra pair of hands when the baby is crying and you have to take a shower, relief from a household duty so you can rest or read a chapter in the book you started months ago, a friend to laugh with you at the absurdity of meal and bedtime chaos.
So why don’t you just arrange for that help? I know: “Yeah, right.” is the answer that any mother would give to this simple sounding suggestion. Sometimes we can and do have help, which is great. But the reason this suggestion may have you rolling your eyes is that unless you have an around-the-clock, full-time nanny, chef and housekeeping crew, it’s virtually impossible to pre-arrange help in all of the little random moments when you are going to reach your wits end (And don’t worry. You will, it’s just a matter of when.)
So what’s a wanna-be-healthy-but-stressed-and-tired mama to do? How do you find support when there’s clearly no one around to help in a last-minute moment of need?
When I run into this scenario of “help, I’m overwhelmed!”, this one insight almost always comes to the rescue.
Where you meet with resistance, soften. Give and you shall receive.
The truth is that getting the kind of support you really need begins from within–from your mind and your heart. You can be both the giver and receiver.
The kind of support that shows up when you surrender and “give” to yourself might look like this:
At your next doctor’s appointment you get brave and tell the truth, “I’m really nervous about giving birth, but I really want to do it without pain medication. Will you support me?” and suddenly you feel a different connection with your doctor.
You spontaneously get down on the floor with your crying baby and play a three-minute game of catch with his ball or show him how banging spoons makes a terrifically loud clatter. Your baby continues to be entertained when you step away, giving you those 15 minutes in peace you need to wrap up the home-made dinner you whipped up tonight.
You pick up that book you’ve wanted to read before heading out the door and read a chapter while your car’s air conditioner kicks in or while you’re waiting for your gas to be pumped.
You call your partner and say, “hey, I’m having a moment. I don’t need any advice. I just need someone to hear what I’m feeling and thinking. Do you have a few minutes?”
You realize the clean dishes that need to be put away can wait 30 minutes while you take a nap
What is happening here is that you’ve decided what you want, and you’ve let go of “how” those things come to life in your new life. You are suddenly willing to try new things, take different paths and start to see things from a place of imagination instead of complaining. You have surrendered into the reality of the moment, and your sense of time and space has shifted. Things you never thought you had time or energy for suddenly fill in little gaps of your day like little sprinkles of sunshine.
So often we look to the outside for help in matters that can quite easily be solved by a little bit of inspired thinking and a shift in perspective.[tweet this] Here’s a brief exercise to see how this can work for you:
What are some of your “wishes”, things you wish you had time to do or times when you wish you had help? Jot them down on a sheet of paper so you can see them. Over the next week, just be aware of those moments that challenge you as they arise. Then, ask to be shown in your heart how to surrender, how to welcome and make space for your resistance. Keep asking and see what arises.
As my friend Anne Marie Claire, owner of Clear Directions for women, said recently, “Receiving requires letting go. If you’re arms are full, you can’t accept anything that is being offered to you.” In some cases what is being offered to you is within your control to create.
What can you let go of in your life right now to leave you open to receiving more support? What happens when you make space for your resistance?
Experiment and let us know how it goes in the comments!