I was 32 years old with an 8-month old baby, and newly sober. Although I had stopped drinking and drugs, the drive to think was rampant.
My mind was busy creating judgmental stories about myself. Busy inventing arguments with people about situations that hadn’t happened. Busy telling me that I was a bad mother, wife, and friend. The voice in my head was loud, and not my BFF.
One day in the shower, while I was engaging in this negative self-talk, mid scrub down, tears streaming down my face, I yelled out loudly “NO THANK YOU!” I meant it. I had had enough. No more of this make believe nonsense in my mind that was not serving me. So I just stood there, the warm water like a hug, and I kept repeating,
“nothankyounothankyounothankyounothankyounothankyou” until it seemed the committee of assholes in my head had been silenced.
Some years later, I was studying ancient yoga philosophies and learned that certain sounds are powerful. The sound of your own voice can actually change the molecular structure in your body—it awakens your cells, gets them buzzing, and gets them aligned and operating in unison. Shakes things up.
From a neuroscience perspective, we are creating new neural pathways when we declare strong powerful statements out loud.
Really loud. Like screaming-in-the-shower loud.
When we are pregnant or post baby, our brain starts sending many messages. If you pause for a moment, you might hear those messages.
They might sound something like “I can’t do this, I can do this, how do I do this, I should google, that’s dumb, I’m dumb—don’t be silly, I am awesome, I am healthy, how do I stay healthy, where should I birth, what should I eat, I should lose weight, that’s silly I am pregnant, oh jeez I’m tired, my baby shouldn’t be crying, I don’t know what to do??!.”
The rapid fire questioning is faster than an episode of Jeopardy and most of the time we ignore it, but some of it we hold onto really tightly.
The negative questions and statements that we hold onto are stored in our body. They bring us down. They become the committee of assholes.
Negative messages aren’t just internal, either. We live in an age of memes. Open your Facebook or Instagram and there will be a quote about something—maybe relevant, maybe not, but once seen it cannot be struck it from the record of your mind, even if you don’t believe it. This is especially true in the birthing world.
How do you filter it all? Quell the negative messages? Surround yourself only with the positive messages that support your own values? You may not be able to. And that’s okay, because you have a powerful tool with you everywhere you go—your own voice.
I would like you to try something with me:
Rub your hands together, creating some energy and heat between them. Do this for about 10 seconds. Then place your hands, warm and loving over your throat and breath softly. Close your eyes and breathe three times please. I will wait for you right here…
How did that feel? What words came up for you? If they were positive words, write them down. Maybe there is a particular quote that inspires you? Write that down too.
Now repeat the exercise we just did, only this time, when you breathe out during your three breaths, say the words or quote out loud, not in your head. Say them so you can clearly hear your own radiant voice. Command those words into your reality.
Or try these I AM statements:
- I AM strong
- I AM brave
- I AM focused
- I AM supported
- I AM generous
- I AM loved
- I AM powerful
- I AM healthy
- I AM intelligent
- I AM direct
Having a mantra or practice of affirmation is a really effective self-care tool during pregnancy, birthing, postpartum, and beyond. It is also 100% customizable. It can say whatever you need it to say.
If possible, try to make time for it daily, or a few times a day, or maybe just in the shower when you have conversations with yourself that are less than positive.
And if you need the committee to just shut up, try my “NO THANK YOU!!” mantra and then repeat your loving words in their place. The annoying folks upstairs will quiet, and your own voice will rein supreme.