If you’re a mom it’s possible that you’ve asked, at one time or another, “What were you thinking!?” or “Why did you do that!?” The likely answer you received was, “I don’t know” or a guilt-ridden shoulders shrug. The truth is, most of the time they didn’t know.

How often do you notice the things you do or don’t do? What about the comments that spill from your mouth when you’re exhausted and trying to make dinner while your child is insistent that you look at their new dance moves…over and over again? As you go through your week checking things off the to-do list, how often do you take time to check-in with your thoughts and responses?

Have you ever wondered, “Gosh, why did I just say that?” or felt overwhelmed yet found yourself saying, “yes” to another project, friends’ request or kid’s extracurricular activity? I’ve been there and it’s draining.

It wasn’t until I learned that the choices I’d been making as a mother, were skewed by my past experiences (some great, some not so great), did I start to pay attention. Here’s the thing, your experiences, whether positive or negative, affect the way you perceive success, yourself as a career woman, mother, wife, volunteer, daughter and so much more! They also affect the ways in which you function in these roles, today.

Let’s use failure as an example. What were you told growing up about failure? Was it a bad thing? Not allowed? Were failures losers? Or were you told that failure was an opportunity—something that happens to everyone now and then? Depending upon what you heard growing up, you’re likely to have a strong opinion one way or the other about failure. I know I did, for a longtime.

Here’s the thing, some past experiences, which I call “stories”, can get in the way of your success at work and home. Without realizing it, like a record in the background, old stories play-out in our interactions with coworkers, family and in the way we take care of ourselves. When you’re not aware of the narrative, you end up living by default—stuck wondering why nothing’s changing.

Here are 7 examples of common stories that keep professional women stuck. Perhaps one will resonate with you:

  • “There’s never enough time.”
  • “I’m not good/accomplished/beautiful/_(fill in the blank)_
  • “Asking for help burdens others.”
  • “It would be rude/selfish/bitchy to say ‘no’.”
  • “It/I/they/we have to be perfect.”
  • “Good moms are selfless.”

Anything sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand it’s natural and necessary at times, to share what’s on your heart. I do it. But when you find yourself repeating a mantra like, “There’s never enough time” or retelling some version of one of the above stories, try to catch yourself. Notice what’s coming out of your mouth or what’s bothering you. Is it a relationship, the challenges of motherhood, your team, sense of accomplishment, your body, duty, etc?

The story may just be your biggest barrier to getting more time, support, connection and the sense of fulfillment you want.

I’m not saying this will be easy. That old record has likely been playing in the background for quite some time. ‘Noticing’ will take practice. The great thing about this for working moms is, you can practice anywhere and it doesn’t take a lot of effort or added time. The more you practice, the greater your awareness. The greater your awareness, the greater your power to change.

When we know better, we do better.” –Maya Angelou


Follow Akanke on Twitter, @Akanke_Adefunmi, Like her Facebook page, facebook.com/claimyourshero

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