It’s been kind of cryptic around these parts the past year or so and it feels like it’s time to step out and be a little more transparent with my writing. Vulnerability was never my strong suit, and though I’ve always been pretty open about my life, how stressed I could get, how crazy my kids would act and how annoying my husband could be, it was never from a place of complete honesty. I guess I never really thought everyone wanted to see the weak parts in all their glory, so I put on a bit of a show to try to mask some of what was going on. The things I wrote were true, just not very deep. You didn’t really see Morgan. So I’m pushing aside all worry of coming across cuckoo for cocoa puffs and I’m just going for it! (Which, in essence, is another step in my healing process. To step out and be seen for who I really am. So thanks for being a part of this!)
There’s been somewhat of a paradigm shift for me. Do I still have hard days as a mom/wife/human being? Sure. But the change has been in how I’m trying to not automatically go to the negative place in my mind, thoughts, etc. and purpose myself to think on what is good. To not grab hold of the lies and negativity that cross my mind so easily and quickly, but instead to purposefully push those aside and replace them with something positive and true.
The most helpful tool of sorts that has impacted my life has been this: Think about what I’m thinking about. In my darkest hour, I was saturated in condemning, shameful, comparative, negative thoughts. I was so hard on myself for the mistakes I’d made and the person I had become over time. I really didn’t recognize myself and actually quite honestly hated who I saw in the mirror. The true shift began when I stopped buying into that garbage.
Think about what I’m thinking about. I do this as often as I can throughout the day. Not every thought HAS to take root and become a part of my identity. There are a lot of pretty negative/hurtful/perverse things that cross our minds if you start to pay attention. The thing I decided is, who cares? Just because something crossed my mind doesn’t mean it’s true or that I am forced to believe it. Yes, it’s natural to ruminate on ideas and concepts that aren’t necessarily life-giving and fruitful… we all do it, all day every day. But how much sweeter would it be if those ideas were mostly good instead of soaked in harshness and negativity? Hear me out if it sounds like a pointless concept – what harm would it do, really? We know reality. Bad things happen to us. We mess up. People are cruel. But what happens is when we sit around and ruminate on these things, we begin to believe them, they began to shape how we see ourselves and others and then over time we find that we’ve actually become the thing we feared or hated. When I say ‘we’, I’m really talking about myself because this very thing happened to me.
Not sure if this is coming across clearly, so let me give a few examples from my own experience.
I can remember times where I was too harsh with my kids and made them cry. Later that night while laying in bed, here’s what was happening in my mind, “You’re such a terrible mother. They don’t feel loved or accepted. You’re such a monster. You always do this. They’re going to grow up and have issues because of how you always scream at them. You’re screwing them up. You’re so cruel. You’re never going to change.”
This is where I lived. Every day. With everything that I put my hand to. I burned something while I was cooking and then thought, “You’re never going to be a good cook.” I got angry with Justin and then I thought, “He’s going to leave you and find someone else who IS kind to him.” How sad!! I became so fearful, angry, bitter and hard on myself, not even able to see the good. The reality is, I messed up. I was angry. I was manipulative. I flipped people off and chewed people out and hurt those I loved and who loved me. I was a terrible cook. Does that mean it’s the end of the world and there’s no hope for me? No. Does that mean I’m always going to be that way and I’m a monster? No.
The next thing I began doing after thinking about what I was thinking about was to stop believing the junk. Sometimes positive things don’t cross our minds very often on their own, so for me, that means I sometimes have to literally look myself in the mirror and think (sometimes say) “No Morgan, you are good. You are honest. You have a pure heart. You are gentle and kind. You speak nothing but sweetness and truth. Justin appreciates you. You are a perfect mother.” And you know what? Those things may not be 100% true in the moment, but doing that has changed me. I don’t hate myself anymore. I truthfully can say I love myself, where I am right now. I may not be perfect, but who the heck is? I might as well be a little easier on myself while I’m figuring all this out. It sure hasn’t hurt anything.
There have been some dark moments where I’ve been driving down the road and thought, “I should just swerve off into that ditch” and then I was like, all disturbed that I merely thought it. “Oh my God, I’m going crazy. I am a danger to myself. My mind isn’t right.” I was upset about that for a long time because on top of actually thinking about killing myself and not really knowing why, I was also pregnant at the time. Am I suicidal? Do I really want to die and take my baby with me? NO WAY! And that’s the honest to God truth. Just because it crossed my mind for whatever reason, I didn’t have to believe it or follow through with it. And I didn’t have to believe the lies that followed! I am NOT crazy. I have a sound mind and I love my life and my baby. That’s an extreme example to apply this concept to, but in the day to day, we really do grab hold of a lot of crap that we don’t have to.
Take the lady who cuts in line for example. Was it rude? Absolutely. Do I know everything about this woman and her life? No. She could be a kind, considerate person who just happened to be caught up thinking about her grocery list and didn’t see me. If I were to bite her head off, or leave the store and ruminate on how rude she was all the way home, while I was cooking dinner for my family, while I was laying in bed on into the next day, give her a piece of my mind while blow drying my hair, what does that do? It just steals my peace and joy. It’s like a poison you just keep drinking. A knife you just keep twisting. So yeah, maybe the fact is that she was actually cutting me in line because she was an inconsiderate butthole. It would STILL do me good to think the best about her. Where’s the harm in that? This applies to thinking and speaking about my kids, my husband, myself. If you’re believing the best about others, you have to believe the best about yourself as well. “You’re never going to be a good cook.” You know how many times I’ve thought that about myself over the course of my life? I finally decided to stop believing it and try to do the opposite. And you know what? I’m not Iron Chef Mario Batali, but I’m sure not as terrible at it as I once believed. I’m actually getting pretty good. I never would have given it an honest shot if I didn’t stop myself from believing the worst.
I know thinking on something that doesn’t seem possible sounds dumb. I keep it in perspective. If I was in a dark alley and a man came up to me with a shank, I definitely wouldn’t be believing the best about him like, “oh maybe he just wants a friendly conversation” – like, use a little wisdom. Homeboy is getting maced and can find another friend. (Plus, what am I doing in a dark alley to begin with?) Also I realize I have to change some of my ways and circumstances aren’t going to shift just because I think “I am kind.” I’m just noticing that taking that first step in starting to believe good things, and starting to imagine that I could be different than how I am now is actually doing some of that work for me. What I’m saying that where I put my mind and my speech, my actions are following. And then, it’s been amazing, but the circumstances are starting to change. It feels unnatural, sure, to argue with my husband and then stop myself and think “I’m more kind than this. He loves me. I love him. We’re better than this” And then instead of continuing to be mad at him, it actually has helped me then be better at apologizing and owning up for my side of things. And over time, we are finding that we aren’t even having those fights at all because we’re both thinking the best about one another! It has helped me to break out of that familiar place of feeling so sorry for myself, so depressed and anxious and fearful and bitter, so hard on myself for messing up, that I can actually stir myself up on something positive, take care of the mistake in the moment and move on to do better next time. No ruminating. No beating myself up.
Think about what you’re thinking about. You don’t have to accept everything you’ve been told by yourself or others. If we’re not careful, we can get caught up in believing the worst. I challenge you to capture those thoughts about yourself — the big ones at first, then the more subtle ones you’ve believed for so long will start coming up — put them to death and replace them with the best possible scenario. Because the truth is you are pure hearted. You are kind. You are patient and gentle. You are a wonderful person. You are great at that one thing. You’ll be amazed with what starts to happen once you begin to believe it.