Hello everybody, welcome to episode 143 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. In this installment of OLA, we’re going to be exploring ways to give ourselves pats on the back – and with good reason and accountability, I might add. It’s very easy to focus on that which we haven’t done whether it’s in a time of thick or thin, but hopefully today some light can be shined how to change our focus while still paying respect to the big picture. Here’s the listener’s question on her predicament as a single mom.
QUESTION: “My ex-husband and I divorced last December. As with any big life change, some aspects have been positive, some negative.
I have two AMAZING children, 10 and 5. I want to give them the very best…I’ve gotten to a place of stability now (recently bought a home – on my own!) so now I’ve moved on to other areas of growth…I feel more capable of taking on different aspects that I didn’t feel I could before.
However, I’m still ending the very productive days thinking about how I could improve in certain areas. I have found it hard to relish in the small victories. Truth be told, I think I’ve always felt this way, but it has become more apparent to me as I am doing much of life by myself as a single mom. Where there might typically be two people, I am filling the gap as one. I love the independence and ability to be self reliant, I would just love to get to a place where I end the day proud.
So, what are some practical steps in finding peace at the end of the day, and how can I do a better job at giving myself a “pat on the back” so to speak instead of trying to come up with ways to be better?”
Celebrate Your Victories
Well look at you able to take the high road and still focus on the good aspects of your divorce less than a year after – that’s terrific. Really nice job!
I would argue that that mentality alone is a victory that should be celebrated. Being in a healthy, balanced mindset after such a troublesome situation is no easy feat. So between that and buying a house alone, congratulations!
That’s already enough for me to see that you’re handling this spectacularly as a single mom.
But this episode is about you patting yourself on the back, not me patting you on the back, so let’s do what we came here to do.
It’s very easy for any of us to feel as though we haven’t done enough at the end of each day.
The negativity bias AKA negativity effect is our psychological proclivity to focus much more on that which has gone wrong than that which has gone right. It’s an innate part of our being, and for my money, it becomes more drastic over time when we’re in a culture that, foolishly, puts an increasing amount of emphasis on the idea of success.
So that which goes wrong now feels even more worth paying attention to because we interpret societal backlash the farther away we are from doing everything successfully. Nonsense, but the truth of how things are right now.
And being that you’re now on your own with two children in tow that are more reliant on you alone than they were when you were with your ex-husband, you have yet another for the threshold of success to become even tighter – because doing things wrong theoretically has more of an impact on your little ones than ever before.
I’m sure this feels very scary, but I appreciate you recognizing your need to pat yourself on the back more as opposed to doing more. That’s excellent, and the right answer in my eyes.
Focus on What Has Been Accomplished
What I think you can start doing is to pivot your focus at the end of each day onto what was accomplished as opposed to what wasn’t. There will always be things that have gone incomplete, and while it may be difficult (though preferable) to think about these things less, consider equally the things you did accomplish.
Go through a mental checklist and recall each productive and/or satisfying thing you did that day that you’re proud of.
Then at the end of the week, reflect on all your proudest accomplishments from the week. And at the end of the month, your proudest accomplishments for the month. And at the end of the year – you guessed it – your proudest accomplishments for the year.
While you’re basking in your own glory like this, and reflecting on all the things you DID do right, reflect also on how many of those things you wouldn’t have done or wouldn’t have been able to do while you were married.
Not to say you wouldn’t have been capable, but wouldn’t have been challenged to do.
Single Mom: Focus on What You've Achieved On Your Own
There are also the things you might have done when you were married, but have now done on your own, meaning you have roughly twice as much to be proud of (buying a house would fall into this category, assuming you and your ex husband owned a house before.) Though you may never feel as though these things are enough, you can still put yourself on the right track by being grateful for them, a habit which will build and provide immense value over time.
I also recommend stacking this mental validation with physical validation. It’s often of great benefit to people to make lists of the things they want to do and check them off as they become accomplished.
The difference here is that you’re now able to see and measure your progress, not to mention feel the reward of striking a line through it once it’s done.
This also makes it easier to be precise in exactly what you’re doing, so if you find that those “certain areas” you mention feeling unaccomplished in at the end of each day are the same ones over and over again, see this as an opportunity to make specific time for them and write up specific goals for them instead of just thinking about them.
Single Mom: Look to Your Kids for Reassurance
Finally, I want to return to something I said earlier about your children and how their reliance on you may be causing your negativity bias to be in peak form.
It seems to me that your kids are your focus here. This is the case for most parents who feel a particular sense of love for their children, especially if they’re now single parents or a single mom in your case.
Look for reassurance in them each day. You’re likely to measure yourself by how much you’re doing for them anyway .
If you look at your children and see that they’re happy, healthy, safe and just glad to be with you, trust that that’s enough to justify giving yourself a pat on the back.
A big thank you to the woman who sent this question in – the terrific, highly achieving mother that she is. I do hope this episode was able to help you find some confidence in all that you’re doing right because for my money, there seems to be a lot of it.
We’re going to wrap up, though, so to all you listeners out there, you are ever encouraged to submit questions of your own that you’d like my help with here on the show. Email anything that’s going on with you to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Don’t be shy. Hope to see you all in the next one, thanks for being here today, and have a wonderful rest of your day.