There are a number of reasons I wanted to train as a hypnotherapist, but I would say that the biggest catalyst was how it helped me to overcome some of the biggest challenges I had experienced in my own life.
The most significant of these challenges was my journey into motherhood, and so this blog is intended as a sprinkling of hope for anyone who thinks that they are alone in this crazy mothering malarky.
Rose Tinted Glasses
I can remember the day I found out I was pregnant for the first time: The feelings of utter joy, excitement and amazement, and despite the delights of 9 months of daily sickness, swollen ankles and complete exhaustion, the romance of the pending arrival of my little bundle of joy generally kept any anxiety at bay.
Hours spent washing and neatly packing away miniature baby grows and organising cotton wool balls into little woven baskets – it was going to be heavenly.
I was well prepared for the birth, which I had decided would be in the comfort of my own home, pain free and followed by cheers of joy, champagne and toast all round while my perfect new baby slumbered contentedly in its little cosy bed.
Perhaps naively, I had this notion that motherhood was a bit of a doddle. I assumed that the overwhelming love I was told I would feel for my baby would leave me immune to the chaos of no sleep, the mad concoction of hormones and the relentlessness that I had heard so many mothers discuss around me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am aware that for some mother’s, the above is quite true (yes even the champagne and toast, or so I’ve heard!) but I also know from my own experience and that of countless other women that this isn’t always how chapter 1 of motherhood begins.
The Naked Truth
My own experience was that of a lengthy and let’s say, eventful birth which, thank god resulted in the eventual safe arrival of my first born son. Weighing in at a conservative (cough!) 10lb 8oz, despite his rocky journey into the world, he was healthy and well. Surely I should have been overjoyed.
I desperately tried to magic up that wild feeling of unconditional love, but in its place, guilt and shame slowly crept in. Clearly there was something badly wrong with me if I couldn’t be happy when I’d been gifted this perfect human – something so many would sell their souls for.
Comparison, hopelessness and most significantly for me, anxiety began to consume me daily.
I may not have known this at the time, but I now know that my story is not unique and for some women, and men for that matter, parenthood can unveil a whole host of unexpected emotional and mental health challenges and sadly, many will carry that around with the assumption that they are faulty. Lacking. Not up to the job.
Many won’t share how they feel, because let’s face it, when it comes to parenting, the world and his well-meaning wife are not shy in making their opinions known. And despite how much this kind of thing is openly spoken about these days, it still feels like one of the hardest things to own.
Even for me, after 6 plus years, a supportive family and a job that is centred around supporting people with their mental well-being, I still feel a familiar discomfort when sharing my own personal experience.
Cooking up a Storm
So why do so many of us suffer in these early days? Let’s imagine that for a minute that the process of becoming a parent is like baking a cake.
You take a life of independence and mix it with a plump round baby that suddenly desires all of your attention of which you cannot escape. Blend that with a teaspoonful of sleep (per night), 2 cups of cracked nipples and half a ton of birth trauma. Fold this in carefully with 50 pints of unwanted opinions, a jug full of people telling you how to parent and a generous sprinkle of unmet expectations (I’m still bitter about the lack of champagne). Finally stir it rapidly with a potent concoction of postpartum hormones and spread it all over a body that you don’t recognise.
Ok so a little dramatic perhaps, but you get the picture.
The point is that there is A LOT going on in short space of time. If you can imagine that mixing bowl or ‘stress bucket’ as we like to refer to it in the world of solution focused hypnotherapy, is full to the brim and likely overflowing and our usual go-to filter for life’s daily curveballs, A.K.A. sleep, temporarily eludes us.
When our buckets are full, we lose intellectual control. We lose access to the part of our brain that we use to make sense of the world. The creative bit that we use to come up with rational solutions goes offline and we are left with the primitive part of our brain whose only concern is to keep us alive – at whatever cost! Panic stations!
The Good News
Thankfully, this tale is not all doom and gloom. It wouldn’t be very solution focused if it was and would be a pretty depressing mothers day ode.
So here’s the good news; firstly as you can see from the above cake analogy, all of this ‘stuff’ is happening and none of it is your fault, so the guilt can take a hike. It’s just your brains slightly overbearing way of trying to protect you. It’s actually doing what it does best.
But the even better news is that there many small but achievable things we can do to gently bring that more rational part of our brain back on-line and get us back to feeling something close to ourselves again.
Using the Three Principles of Positivity
When I asked some mum friends what kind of things they did when they were struggling the most with parenting, a large majority said that talking and connecting with friends and family always helped.
Why? Well ultimately, we humans thrive best when we work as a tribe and when we have positive interactions with other people. We even get a boost Serotonin when we do, which has been proven to help us feel calm and more in control of how we feel. They say it takes a village to raise a child and that’s because as a species, we weren’t designed to parent alone, physically or emotionally.
Lots of people talked about getting outside and going for a walk to clear their heads. Positive actions such as physical activity and being outdoors gives us another natural hit of sunny Serotonin. Walking has huge benefits on our mental and physical well-being and actually the act itself can put us into a trance like state which means our brain gets a well-earned rest from the usual overthinking that can bring us down.
Finally, and I’d say this one was my own personal secret weapon to feeling more like myself again, thinking positively can make a big difference to our well-being. I know how fluffy this can sound but I’m afraid it’s a fact. A very well proven one. If we focus our thoughts on how we want things to be and the good in our lives instead of our problems, it changes how our brain functions. It’s like Kryptonite for anxious thoughts and miracle grow for our happy, thinking brain. So, focusing every day on a few things that have been good can quickly start to transform how you see the world.
Do you need a helping hand?
So for any parent who might be struggling today on Mother’s day, or any other day of the year, please know that you are not broken, you working perfectly, and that by making some small steps (maybe some of those mentioned above), you can start to take some control back of your life.
And if you need a little more help to get you there then do get in touch. I’d really love to help.
About the Author: Rose Horgan works with people online in our Epping Forest clinic and she specialises in working with people anxiety, low confidence and parental stress. Rose is a member of the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapists and, as an experienced Social Worker, she is also registered with the British Associate of Social Work.
If you’d like to find out how solution focused hypnotherapy could help you to reduce anxiety and cope with stress, why not get in touch to book your FREE initial consultation with your local Inspired to Change hypnotherapist? Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Essex, Fife, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, and Somerset.
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