Lately I’ve discovered someone who really resonates with me and has an important message to impart. Tui Fleming is the author of “Dear Mummy, you’re important too”. I love Tui’s take on life and wanted to share this with you.
Tui kindly agreed to blog for me!! Read on:
Change perspective, find peace
By Tui Fleming, author of ‘Dear Mummy, You’re Important Too’
When your husband sets the alarm for 5am to watch the America’s Cup – then changes his mind (no, we didn’t watch it #sorrynotsorry #sleepfirst #wellthatwastheplan); when his standard alarm goes off 45 minutes later – and he snoozes it, and snoozes it, and snoozes it again, it is NOT conducive of good sleep! Much like when you have an early rising little person, who awakes wide-eyed rearing to go in those dark, still, early hours – the ones where you are warm and soft, awash with sleep, not ready to be roused.
Life. That’s how it is, isn’t it? We can’t control our environment. Or can we?
This article explores how we can change perspective, and when we do, find peace. Which is deeply cathartic not only for our own wellbeing, but the wellbeing of our children by virtue of the mother-child bond and childrens’ instincts which sense very cleverly and quickly – and reflect back to us, too – exactly how we’re feeling. When peace reigns in us and our family, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Yet peace eludes many mums. It’s no wonder: we’re pushed and pulled in so many directions, we give our all every day, we’re so externally focussed on our children, that we just don’t take enough time for ourselves to work on how we feel – and importantly, how we want to feel. So how to find the elusive peace? Let’s go back to that statement: We can’t control our environment. Or can we?
1.the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, or influences; surroundings; milieu.
3.the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person or a population.
Allow me to get a little science-y for a minute. Neuroscience says that our brain is a record of our environment: Everything we think and feel is recorded and stored by the brain, and after repeatedly doing the same things in our life this becomes our environment. In other words our mind, driven by our perspective – the stories we tell ourselves – helps to shape our environment. So then: “That’s life. We can’t control our environment” is actually a story we tell ourselves.
Our perception is our reality.
… the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted…
…a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something…
Bearing the above definitions in mind, I use these words interchangeably. One of the key words to highlight is attitude. Let’s look at this a little closer:
a settled way of thinking or feeling about something . . .
Thinking and feeling happens within you, which means that it’s you who shapes your attitude. In turn, this means that it’s you who shapes your perspective. In order to have resilience – and don’t we need a bucket load of that as mummies?! – and contentment, both in your life and within yourself, I believe you need to have a positive perspective.
Attitude, by definition, is ‘settled’. That does not mean fixed.
We have the power to change our attitude, thereby change our perception, thereby reshape our environment by new ways of experiencing.
That’s why this morning, instead of getting increasingly p*ssed off and wound up at my disrupted sleep, I used the time to set intentions for a good day, a productive day. That’s why I got up after that third snooze and instead of stomping around and desperately seeking caffeine, I turned on a dim light at the dining table, took a few grounding, centering, deep breaths, and starting writing this. Then my eldest awoke and finding me here, collected her colouring book and pens and sat alongside me. It was quiet, peaceful, bonding. It started my day right.
Here’s the other thing that helped, and always helps when I find myself woken early: an understanding about sleep, and how it works.
My understanding is this: Our bodies’ sleep rhythms are controlled largely by cortisol and serotonin. Cortisol is a hormone our body naturally produces, which gives us energy and drive. Serotonin helps keep us awake, and our bodies keep producing more throughout the day. Then, in the evening, our bodies convert serotonin to melatonin and we become sleepy. At around 10pm our cortisol is naturally at it’s lowest and melatonin at it’s highest, so this is the optimal time to go to sleep. At around 2am our cortisol levels slowly begin to rise and our bodies begin the awakening process. During the hours between 10pm and 2am, our bodies – in their natural state (i.e. unfuelled by adrenalin-producing substances such as caffeine) – are at their prime for deeply restorative sleep.
You may have heard that the number of hours of sleep you get before midnight are worth twice the hours thereafter. It may be more accurate to say that it’s the number of hours of sleep before 2am that matter, and the serotonin–cortisol equation is the reason why. Since learning about this equation, if I’m in bed by around 10pm it doesn’t matter if I wake – read: am woken! – early, because I tell myself: ‘I’ve already had the best quality sleep I can have.’ Yes, this is a story – and we have learned to be wary of these – but it is a productive one.
That’s all well and good to know… but when push comes to shove and you’re in the moment, you’ll forget about this article. I understand; I’m a mum of daughters who are 5 and 4 years old, working part time for one company whilst developing my own business whilst studying for my advanced yoga teacher qualification. So let me sum all this up into 5 tips.
When you find yourself woken early; when you find yourself experiencing a negative reaction, an unwanted feeling about anything, take these –
5 steps to change perspective and find peace
- Stop. Stop whatever you’re doing, thinking, feeling. Allow yourself to detach from what’s happening, to be properly present.
- Check in with yourself. Identify how you’re feeling. When you can identify and name your feelings, they’re much easier to work through, and let go.
- Focus on the issue; let go of the emotion. In other words, try to identify the story you’re telling yourself around what’s happening, peel away that layer, and then look underneath at what’s really happening.
- Make a choice. Choose a new, more positive perspective. Even if you don’t believe it right now: fake it ‘til you make it – the next step will help.
- Create a mantra. This is a short statement, which brings to life your new positive perspective. The purpose of this is to help you reinforce the new story you’re telling yourself in association with that experience – especially if it’s something that happens often, like being woken early. Mine, for example, is: ‘It’s okay. I’ve already had the best quality sleep I can have.’ Use this every time you encounter the experience that you want to change your perspective about.
My work with Dear Mummy is in giving mums permission to put themselves first, because I believe to be the best mum you can be means being the best YOU you can be. I will never tell you ‘how-to’, because I don’t know you. I simply offer musings and plant the seeds of new perspectives that you can take into your life and apply in a way that suits you. I do hope the ideas here help you shape an environment that allows you to flourish and glow – not just as Mummy, but as the strong and beautiful woman that you are.
I’ll leave you with this quote from my book:
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
– Dan Millman
Tui is a mummy to two young daughters. She’s also a marketer, with twelve years spent in the corporate world before babies arrived. She says it’s a natural desire for her to coach, motivate and activate people (herself included!).
She’s written her book (Dear Mummy, you’re important too) for herself as much as you. She hopes that if you read it, you’ll feel pride and love for yourself, and that the mother in you and the you in you, shines brightly, strongly, confidently. You can find out more on her website www.dearmummy.co.nz, and buy her book here.