In order to eliminate some undo stress in my life, I have decided to take a “30-Day Detox Challenge”. Each month I will identify a poisonous substance that influences negative or ill thoughts, feelings, or experiences in my life. After identifying the action or thought that is toxic, I will concentrate on removing the toxic influence and taking the necessary steps towards forgiveness. My hopes are that this journey will provide me with a new outlook on life.
Focus of September 2014 – Negativity and Uncertainty
It has been 11 days since I started my detoxification of negativity and uncertainty. As with anything you do, it is always easy in the beginning – staying consistent is the hard part. Each day I wake up, shower, fix my hair (trying hard not to make one single comment about how my hair seems to be thinner than the day before), get dressed in my “professional” work clothes (except for the weekends which consist of my Northwestern University flannel pants and matching shirt), and put on my make-up (carefully avoiding to mention the additional wrinkles around my eyes). I confidently make my coffee, sometimes read the Wall Street Journal, and enjoy some alone time before I have to wake up the 4th grader in our home, to get her ready for school. At this point, if there are no negative thoughts about myself, I am surely home free, right? I mean, where are we more vulnerable than in the shower, in front of the mirror, or when we are alone with our thoughts?
It is true that we become our worst critics while we are alone, naked, and picking ourselves apart like a vulture does the carcass of a dead animal. However, surprisingly, this is not when we are the most negative and uncertain about our lives. My first lesson in this “30-day Detox Challenge?” We begin to show a fear of negativity and uncertainty, not as a natural human reaction, but when the people that we love the most begin to question us and have doubts about who we are.
This past week was especially trying for me. I have made a conscious effort to remain positive and not downgrade myself for the way that I look or the decisions that I have made. I wake up every morning thankful for the things that I have, the people in my life, and for opportunities that I have been given. Doing this “30-day Detox Challenge” has made me more self-aware and cognitive of the people and influences around me. According to Steve Moore, a personal life coach, positive thinking can lead to “higher productivity, better relationships, better health, happiness, and spiritual growth.” Why wouldn’t anyone want those things in their life? I will continue to keep my readers up to date on my progress at tackling the toxin of negativity, but for now my “Stuart Smalley Affirmations” (a previous character on SNL for those of you confused right now) seem to be working. I am a more positive person and I am more accepting of my flaws. The toxic feeling of uncertainty, however, is a completely different story.
For those of you that don’t know, I have a 16-year-old daughter. My husband and I are definitely considered the “strict parents” compared to some of her friends’ parents that let them run all over at night, have full access to all social media sites, and stay up as late as they want taking “selfies” and talking through Skype. We always felt as though actions such as those should be considered privileges for good behavior and good grades, not automatically given. Well, after this week of reflection, I must say that I have a whole new appreciation for my parents and the way that they handled my teenage years.
As a parent, I am always questioning my motives and decisions for why I make the choices that I make when it comes to my kids. This is the matter of uncertainty I have spoken so much about recently. I am uncertain that I am making the best choices for my daughters and struggle daily with how to help them become better people. We see their friends have very little restrictions and wonder if we should mirror those relationships. On the outside, it seems as though those children are very close to their parents, however, I am well aware that looks can be deceiving. I am also not naïve enough to think that their relationships are perfect 100% of the time. And if sacrificing the safety of my children merely makes a closer relationship possible, then I choose a stagnant relationship with smart, mature, respectful young ladies.
Life today is harder on teenagers than it was when I was that age. There are so many more added pressures – as if making friends, staying away from bad influences, getting good grades, and making smart decisions weren’t enough. Now-a-days children are not able to hide behind locked doors. With social media, their lives are online – instantly. As I sit back and reflect on my success and failure of getting rid of the negativity and uncertainty toxins in my life these past 11 days, I realize now that it is healthy to have some uncertainty.
The important take-a-way is to not be uncertain about the choices we make as parents. We must have convictions in our choices. If we do not stand firm, then how will we ever persuade our children that we only have their best interest in mind. We need them to incorporate our life lessons while developing their own life principles that they feel strongly about.
Uncertainty is something that we should embrace. Why was I so concerned with being uncertain? Was I wondering if I was disciplining my teenager too much? Was I concerned that social media was rotting her brain (a strange comparison to the television 20 years ago)? Was I worried that she was going to make bad choices in life?
Yes… I AM uncertain about all of those things, but the unknown and uncertainty is part of the magic of being a parent. And I will never forget one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given about teenage girls….
”If your teenager does not like you today, then you must be doing something right!”