Reading about learned perseverance is fine, but reading is not doing. You can’t simply flip a switch and turn on rational self-talk.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves about social media sites and “daily inspiration” quotes. Sure, you feel good for the millisecond it takes to read one, but platitudes are rarely life changing.
Get specific. Deal with your OWN thoughts and rewrite them. Literally. You will write some of them down on coping cards. You’ll be surprised at how useful this can be.
Step 1: Write down TWO irrational negative body thoughts.
I’ll give you mine as examples, as well as an example from another mom:
- “Moms with small babies and consequent flat bellies free of stretch marks and extra skin are lucky. I’ll never get rid of this pooch without cutting off the skin.”
- “I may have dealt with my pelvic floor problems now, but what’s the point if I might need surgery in the future anyway? Age and hormonal changes will just catch up with me.”
- Here is another mom’s: “I’m unattractive. I’ll never get my body back.”
Step 2: Question these statements and rewrite them to reflect a more rational view of your body.
- “I may wish my babies had been smaller and my belly had not stretched so much, but I cannot change the past. Every mom has her own issues, body related or otherwise. No life is perfect. I need to be fatalist about a past that cannot be changed. I am not my belly. My belly is one part of a much larger and more interesting whole.”
- “I can’t predict the future. I may or may not need surgery. Worrying about the future takes me out of my present body. My body will age and change like everyone else’s. It is not rational to expect it to do otherwise.”
- “If I think I’m unattractive and will never get my body back, I should remind myself that beauty is made of many components, not just body parts. I can do something today to make myself feel better about my body, like go for a walk, exercise, or try relaxing exercises. I don’t need to get my body back to be a productive and happy person.”
Step 3: Write each statement from Step 2 on an index card or in a virtual note on your phone.
Put those index cards – now called Coping Cards – in a discreet, but easily accessible spot. Some moms carry them in their purse. Others put them in a physical planner. Others put them in their nightstand. Others just check their phone.
Read the cards when the checklist specifies, but also at any time you feel yourself slipping back to your irrational thoughts.
Return to Week 7
- Coping cards are a hallmark of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Remember, I AM NOT A THERAPIST. But I have adapted the experiment from Judith S. Beck’s Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond, New York: Guilford Press, 1995, 25. ↩